Johanna Konta admits she’s now got a taste for the winning feeling at Wimbledon.
Like fellow British number one Andy Murray, Konta’s preparations have not gone according to plan.
If it had been any other tournament there’s a good chance she wouldn’t have played, after a heavy fall and back injury during last week’s Aegon International in Eastbourne.
Konta admits her Wimbledon record requires some improvement. She made her debut five years ago, just a few months after being granted British citizenship, but has won just two matches since. Another victory will take her into the third round for the first time.
But Konta is now accustomed to winning, her triumph at the Miami Open earlier this year was the biggest title won by a British woman since Virginia Wade triumphed at Wimbledon in 1977.
The world number seven showed no signs of injury on Monday as she swatted aside Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh, dropping just four games in a 6-2, 6-2 scoreline.
Hsieh had proved a stubborn opponent just a few weeks ago at Roland Garros, emerging a winner in three hard-fought sets.
But Konta was quickly to work and ruthless in her domination.
She won the first set in style, sending a perfectly-executed forehand half-volley spinning past Hsieh to dissect the line.
And she completed a 64-minute masterclass with only her second ace of the match.
“I was very happy to come through that because she’s a very tricky player on any surface,” said Konta.
“I had obviously lost to her in that close three-set match in the first round of the French Open, so I was really looking forward to playing her again to try to beat her. I was happy I was able to come through that.
“I’m feeling well, that was definitely one of the first tests to see how I was hitting-wise and I’ve been feeling pretty good.
“I love the crowd and their expectation, I think it’s a massive compliment. Obviously I’m training very hard, working very hard.
“I’m hopefully going to be involved here for the full fortnight but I’m definitely taking it one match at a time.”
Meanwhile, Wimbledon clearly could not have come soon enough for British number two Heather Watson.
Since her mixed doubles victory here 12 months ago, the 25-year old – who famously blew half her £50,000 winnings in celebrations – has cut a glum figure.
Until her run to last week’s semi-finals at Eastbourne, she’d only once put back-to-back victories together on tour in 15 months, her ranking spiralling to outside the world’s top 100.
However, a 6-1, 7-6 win over Maryna Zanevska secures her return to a double digit ranking, whatever happens against 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.
“I feel there’s been a change the last couple months and I feel more settled,” said Watson.
“I have my coaching team sorted out now and I’m happy with it. I feel I’ve had structure in my practices and I’ve just been enjoying my tennis a lot more.
“I have been putting in the work and I said a few weeks ago that I feel like a run is bound to come soon. I feel confident in my game, that I’m playing well, that it will click soon. I keep believing in that.
“I just want to make the most of my confidence now and keep the momentum going. I just love it here. If there’s one tournament that I could pick to win, it would be this one, the atmosphere is unbeatable and this is always my favourite surface.”
If Konta and Watson were all smiles, spare a thought for Laura Robson – who once looked to have their measure.
She’s enjoyed plenty of highs on these lawns, winning the junior title as a 14-year old, claiming Olympic mixed doubles silver in 2012 and making the fourth round one year later.
But her championship was over before lunchtime, Beatriz Haddad-Maia knocking Robson out at the first round stage for the third straight year 6-4, 6-2.
The 23-year old should be in her prime but has never recovered from her wrist surgery two years ago and admits she has some thinking to do.
“I felt emotional but not close to tears; I was more angry at myself,” she said.
“It is not the way I have been playing these last few weeks. I let myself down and I never got into the match.”
Seven British players lined up on the opening day of Wimbledon – and four progressed to the second round.
Aljaz Bedene joined Andy Murray, Watson and Konta in the second round after a mammoth five set tussle with Croatia’s 21st seed Ivo Karlovic.
This wasn’t a game for those who like finesse with their tennis.
Former quarter-final Karlovic is known for his big serve and the first sets went entirely with serve. Indeed the only break – after four hours of play – was when Bedene struck in the decider to claim a 6-7, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 8-6 victory.
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