US Open 2018: Johanna Konta not beating herself up after first-round defeat
Johanna Konta shrugged off her poor recent record in the grand slams after falling to another first-round defeat against Caroline Garcia at the US Open.
The British number one was comprehensively beaten 6-2 6-2 and has now lost her opening match in three of the last five major tournaments and gone out in the second round in the other two.
There were certainly mitigating factors to this one, not least the fact Frenchwoman Garcia is the sixth seed, while Konta arrived in New York under the weather after picking up a virus.
But, compared to the brilliant sequence of results that saw her make two semi-finals, one quarter-final and two fourth rounds in the previous eight slams, there is no doubt this has been a disappointing run.
Caroline Garcia of France (R) shakes hands with Johanna Konta of Great BritainGetty Images
Konta highlighted the form of her opponents, saying: “At the French I lost to (Yulia) Putintseva, who then made the quarters. At Wimbledon I lost to Domi (Cibulkova), who then made the quarters.
" Here I lost to a player who was last week number five in the world, this week number six in the world. I’m playing against the best players who are doing very well. I don’t think there’s too much to really beat myself up over and analyse. I think that’s just the way it is sometimes."
Konta was unseeded at a slam for the first time since the Australian Open in 2016 after dropping to 46 in the rankings and paid the price by drawing Garcia.
Two early double faults put Konta on the back foot while Garcia served and played extremely well throughout, hitting seven aces and 21 winners and not facing a single break point.
Konta said: “I think she played incredibly well. I definitely didn’t have a good serving day, so that definitely hurt me. I could have done a bit better today. For whatever reason it didn’t happen.”
The match was played in the middle of the afternoon in brutally hot conditions, and Konta said: “It was bloody hot. My eyes are still burning and I wasn’t even out there for very long.”
Johanna Konta of Great Britain returns the ball during her women's singles first round match against Caroline Garcia of France on Day Two of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhoGetty Images
It was here last year where Konta’s dramatic slump began with a shock first-round loss to Aleksandra Krunic. She did not win another match all season and on the eve of this tournament opened up about the burn-out that left her feeling unable to compete.
She insisted she is in a much better place now and has shown improved form of late, posting her two best victories of the season in the build-up when she lost just one game against Serena Williams and then defeated former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Konta said: “I definitely think that today doesn’t take away from the good matches that I’ve played here in the hard-court summer. I’ve played a lot of good tennis against the best players in the world.”
The 27-year-old has no ranking points to defend for the rest of the season and has targeted qualifying for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, which features players ranked ninth to 19th for the year.
She insisted, meanwhile, that she remains happy with coach Michael Joyce, who she started working with at the end of last season.
“I still definitely feel we’re doing good work,” said Konta. “I think you need to give things time. I feel happy with the relationship that we have.
“Coming into this year I was in a very unhappy place. The number one job was to get me into a happy place. I feel definitely that we’ve achieved that. Whether the results will come now or in a few months or whether they don’t, I don’t know. But it’s definitely not for a lack of trying.”