Johanna Konta crashes out in first round of US Open

Six weeks ago, Johanna Konta was sending shockwaves crashing through the hallowed grounds of the All England Club by reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon.

Disappointment for British No 1 Johanna Konta as she loses in the first round of the womens singles at Flushing Meadows. Picture: Getty.
Disappointment for British No 1 Johanna Konta as she loses in the first round of the womens singles at Flushing Meadows. Picture: Getty.

Yesterday she was at the epicentre of a minor tsunami again – but this time it was because the world No 7 and one of the outside favourites for the title had lost in the first round of the US Open.

Konta was not so much beaten as dismantled by the diminutive Aleksandra Krunic, the world 
No 78 from Serbia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 5ft 4ins mighty atom may not be particularly powerful, she is certainly not particularly intimidating, but she is smart. She made Konta play the way Krunic wanted. The Serb did not allow her bigger, stronger and more experienced foe to dictate the play and, as a result, she is sitting pretty in the second round.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“She is an awesome player and I had to be on my game from the first point,” Krunic said. “That’s not my game. Usually I like to take time to see what I should do, what I shouldn’t do. But it was all about intensity – she is a very intense player.

“When I came to serve for the match, I’m not the biggest server on the tour. I almost served under the net – I’m just happy I was able to make some winners, too. I just had to keep my shit together.”

It was not the result anyone had expected – it was not even teatime and already the women’s draw had a huge hole blown in it. As for the race for the No 1 spot, Konta must put that on hold. She needed to win the US Open to stand any chance of reaching the top of the heap and the small but impressive Miss Krunic soon put an end to that ambition.

As for Heather Watson, she must wonder what she has done wrong in a previous life. Back in the heady, happy days of 2009, when still a junior hope with her future stretching long and bright ahead of her, she won the US Open junior title. This was it, then: she had made her mark.

But since that day, she has failed to win a single match in New York, not even in the qualifying tournament. Somehow her game is jinxed in Flushing Meadows and yesterday it was the experienced if brittle Alize Cornet who inflicted the damage 6-4, 6-4 in 96 minutes. Watson had her chances but blew them time and again with unforced errors. The US Open curse had done for her again.

“I’m not superstitious,” she said. “I don’t have any superstitions whatsoever. I just trained as hard as I could, prepared as best as I could – and I’m sure Alize did exactly the same.

“It’s a shame when you put in loads of hours. I made sure that I was on court for a lot hours this week making sure I was as fit as possible. And it just sucks that it’s over in like an hour and whatever. But that’s the thing about tennis – you always have next week. And I know it won’t be Flushing Meadows, US Open but it is still another opportunity to get my ranking up.”

Cameron Norrie is galloping up the rankings this week thanks to his impressive run in Flushing Meadows. Coming to town as the world No 225, he is now up to No 181 thanks to winning three matches in the qualifying event and his win over a hobbling Dmitri Tursunov yesterday. The 22-year-old was 7-6, 6-1 to the good when Tursunov called it a day. His right knee could not 
carry him any further.

It was Norrie’s first grand slam main draw win and, even if it had not ended in quite the manner he would have wished for, it was still a win. And he was delighted.

“It would have been nice to have won the last point,” he said. “I started just relaxing and felt good as the match went on. I was doing what I do out there, playing my game out there. I’m really happy and looking forward to the next match. I’m loving it in New York, I’m stoked with myself.”

Born to a Scottish father and a Welsh mother in South Africa, Norrie was just three when his family packed up and headed for New Zealand. Then, at the age of 16, Norrie came to the UK alone and set up camp in London. Two years of suffering the rain and the cold, he was on the move again and headed to Texas to start college. Now speaking with a hybrid Kiwi-American accent, Norrie is hanging on to his Scottish roots.

“I’m pretty Scottish, I think,” he said. “My dad is born in Glasgow, my mum in Cardiff. I’ve been to Scotland a few times, but I don’t like the weather. I went to Aberdeen, that’s where my dad’s side of the family live, I’ve got cousins and uncles in Kintore. None of them were here today, I’m just here by myself.”

If he can beat Pablo Carreno Busta. The No 12 seed from Spain, tomorrow and reach the third round, he may find that he is no longer alone: the Cam Norrie fan club is growing by the day.