British duo exit Madrid singles but Jamie Murray on song in doubles

In the current, Andy Murray-free era of British tennis, there was a depressingly old fashioned feel to the Mutua Madrid Open yesterday: two Britons on court, two losses posted before teatime.

Johanna Konta shows her frustration as she failed to build on a good start against Simona Halep. Picture: AFP/Getty
Johanna Konta shows her frustration as she failed to build on a good start against Simona Halep. Picture: AFP/Getty

To be fair to both Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund, they both played well at times – just not well enough to win a set, much less a match. Konta started aggressively against Simona Halep, the world 
No 3 and current French Open champion, but then ran out of puff to lose 7-5, 6-1 while Edmund had his chances against Fabio Fognini but still lost 6-4, 6-3.

Konta looked to have found her feet on the slow, red dirt this season, reaching the final of the Morocco Open last week and ripping through her opening match in the Spanish capital on Sunday. But against Halep, who thrives on clay, she was not allowed to hold on to her early lead. From 4-2 up in the first set, Konta was slowly reeled in and by the second set, the efforts of the past ten days started to catch up with her.

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“I feel like I started playing at a really good level in that first set,” Konta said. “I thought I found my footing reasonably quickly as well. As you would expect playing someone like Simona, who is a great champion, she is going to rally back. And what she does incredibly well is compete – and that is what she did.

“I definitely created chances in that set and unfortunately I couldn’t capitalise on my efforts because she was too good. I think I just ran out of steam a little bit in the second set and she definitely kept building on her level. And she played true to herself at the end.”

Edmund, too, knew that he had his opportunities but only converting one of eight break points was not going to get him into the second round. Still, he felt that he was training and playing better than he had last week in Munich (where he also lost in the first round) and, all things considered, he thought that he was moving in the right direction.

Admittedly, last year he reached the final of the Marrakech Open and the quarter-finals in Madrid whereas this year, he has won one clay court match out of five, but Edmund was still feeling better about life this week.

“I’m just playing a lot better,” Edmund said. “Just my physical intensity. There’s a few things that I was struggling with but I was a lot better this week.

“I fought well in terms of trying to get into the match and I did create opportunities: in the first set I had 0-40 at 3-2 and then there were two games where I had break points to get back in the second set – obviously I didn’t do it – so there’s a few things.”

It was left to Jamie Murray to lift the mood in the British camp as he and Bruno Soares whistled through their opening match against Radu Albot and Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0, 6-4. The pair now play Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori.