Johanna Konta eliminated from Roland-Garros after losing to Cirstea | French Open 2021
Great Britain will be without a player in the second round of Roland Garros this year after 19th seed Johanna Konta was beaten 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the first round by world 54th Sorana Cirstea.
Earlier today, Heather Watson lost 6-4 7-5 to No 93 Zarina Diyas. Their defeats mark the second worst performance by British players at Roland Garros since 2013 when no Briton reached the second round. As is becoming a regular occurrence these days, the last player standing is fit Cameron Norrie who beat Bjorn Fratangelo 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Despite the ranking disparity between Konta and Cirstea, Konta’s loss was no surprise. Cirstea, also the British player’s conqueror in last year’s US Open second round, is 25th in the WTA race standings which only includes 2021 results. Konta is 97th, she struggled with its form this year and victories have been rare. She has compiled just a 3-7 record this season with three straight losses.
A chasm in form and confidence is so often evident at important times. In their case, it showed to 3-3 in the deciding game of the first set. After the change of end, Konta missed an easy short forehand and Cirstea quickly slammed the door. While Konta ended the tie-break with a series of errors, Cirstea landed three straight first serves and kept her mini-break. With the first set settled, she relaxed and completely outperformed Konta until the end. “I think I did a lot of good things there, but obviously not enough,” Konta said. “I think she found her place pretty well, and I couldn’t adapt well enough to what she was doing. She was hitting really well on the court, playing fast and playing big, that’s what she seems to be playing.
With another loss in the first round, Konta maintains his unique record in Paris: out of his seven appearances, Konta has lost six times in the first round. The only time she reached the second round, she continued to the semi-final and had a realistic opportunity to win the title.
Konta’s relaxed demeanor at the press conference led to a question about her motivation, which she dismissed. “Obviously you evolve and you change, so even the way I played tennis two years ago was different from two years before that to two years before that,” she said. “It just keeps changing as I grow older, from a teenager to a young adult to now a 30 year old woman. So life changes. But I’m here because I’m training to be here, to compete.
“So I will play until I [no longer] want to do that.
As Konta heads into the grass season in search of the winning streak needed to ignite his season, Watson noted his frustration with his physical condition after a few tough weeks. Watson’s shoulder was strapped and she said a recent cold and other ailments resulted in missed training days that affected her fitness on the pitch. While she felt she was hitting the ball cleanly, she couldn’t match Diyas’ physiognomy throughout the game.
“I haven’t been able to train as much as I wanted so I just have to get back on the pitch right away,” she said. “I just feel completely stunned after a two-set singles game that I shouldn’t be feeling. So, yeah, I just want to come back ASAP and be healthy, train healthy and feel good on the match field.
As his compatriots left, Norrie ignored his own doubts stemming from back-to-back first-round defeats in Paris to maintain his supreme form and progress with minimal fuss. Besides, there was little to doubt Norrie – Monday’s victory marked his 24th win of the season, the third biggest over ATP this year. He will face Lloyd Harris in the second round with a third round match with Rafael Nadal, who plays on Tuesday, likely to an away win.
“I think Cam is awesome,” Konta said. “I think Cam is one of the best guys we have around the house. I think he works incredibly hard, he puts his head down. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s playing the game well and, yeah, I think he’s really going his own way. The way he went to American college, too, he does it in his own way. I hope he is doing really well. In the first night game in Roland Garros history, Serena Williams reached the second round with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. Williams, who is hoping to get back into shape after struggling to regain his rhythm during the clay season after a three-month hiatus, recovered from a 6-5 to a 4-6 deficit in the tie- break before closing the match with confidence. She will face Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round.