Jo Konta’s excellent start to the grass court season has continued after a battling victory over Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic in Nottingham.
The British number one overcame Jakupovic in straight sets, 6-4 6-2, to set up a repeat of last year’s final against Donna Vekic. Konta got off to a slow start and found herself trailing 4-2 after conceding an early break. Jakupovic was playing well above her world ranking suggested, making Konta run and forcing early errors from the Brit.
But the Slovenian wasn’t able to maintain her high level and found her serve under pressure, conceding the break to level the scores at 4-4. And after missing out on a break point on Konta’s serve, the world number 118 saw her chances go as Konta made no mistake of taking her second set point.
Despite an early hick-up of conceding a break on her opening service game, the second set was far more comfortable for Konta and the Brit raced through to reach the semi-finals where she’ll meet Donna Vekic. The defending champion overcame some early nerves to defeat Mona Barthel 7-5 6-1. Vekic, who defeated Konta 2-6 7-6 7-5 in last year’s final, was impressive in the opening match on Centre Court and will be tough to break down in Saturday’s semi-final.
Ash Barty eases past Katie Boulter
Top seed Ash Barty needed just an hour and one minute to down wild card Katie Boulter 6-0 6-2. The Australian is looking for her first WTA title on grass and showed why she is the 5/2 favourite in Nottingham after easing past the British number four. Barty’s fantastic defence and faultless shot selection proved too strong for the Brit, who was making her WTA quarter-final debut.
The world number 17 will now take on Naomi Osaka, who downed Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4 6-1.
Katie Boulter has exceeded expectations and can now look forward to joining Barty and Konta in the main draw of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham next week, after receiving a wild card alongside Heather Watson today.
Evans through but Ward and Dart lose
Dan Evans continued to stake his claim for a Wimbledon wild card as he made his second consecutive ATP Challenger semi-final in Nottingham. Evans overcame Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur 7-6 6-3 to set up a match against the experienced Marcel Granollers.
Evans once again looked assured on his serve and wasn’t broken in the match. His attitude, which has been impeccable since his return, as well as his performances on the grass surely warrant a wild card to Wimbledon and the Eastbourne International.
Elsewhere, James Ward was unable to make it two Brits in the semi-finals after losing 6-4 6-3 to Belarusian Ilya Ivashka. His return to form since his operation has been spectacular and perhaps overshadowed by Dan Evans. However, his performances have shown that he can compete at an ATP level so expect the Davis Cup champion to receive a Wimbledon wild card.
In Manchester, Harriet Dart was unable to reach the semi-finals after losing to Ysaline Bonaventure 6-4 6-3. In a tight opening set, Dart recovered from a break down, but was unable to save set points on her serve as the Belgian showed her class. Bonaventure then took charge of the second, and despite the best efforts of the Brit, it’ll be the Belgian that will play for a place in Sunday’s final.