British No.1 Konta gets her French Open campaign under way today against the 23-year-old from Kazakhstan who has a reputation as something of a hot-head on court.
Konta, bidding to reach the second round at Roland Garros for the first time, insists she will not be distracted by the goings on over the other side of the net.
“In my experience, most players act the way they do in their own self-interest and in getting their own emotions out and basically working with their own demons on court,” said Konta.
“So I assume the way I’m going into the match is that she will deal with the match the way she feels she needs to deal with it to win and I will deal with the match the way that I feel I need to deal with it to win.
“Does it bother me? No.”
Konta was quick to defend her record at Roland Garros, which saw her fall at the first hurdle to Hsieh Su-wei a year ago and Julia Goerges 12 months previously.
“This is only my third French Open main draw by ranking, so I think it would be a little bit unfair to just say completely that my record is terrible, because I would like to give it a few more years,” she added.
“Also, I’ve only qualified for two Slams and one of them was here, so I have experienced success here.
“And actually the one last year was an incredibly tough one against Su-Wei and we’ve all seen since then how well she can play. And before that was against Julia Goerges, who plays incredibly well on this surface.
“But as for how I feel on the surface, actually every year that I come here I look forward to it because I know I can play well on the clay.”
Reigning champion Jelena Ostapenko begins the defence of her title today against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova. It is a tough start for the Latvian, who was unseeded when she charged through the draw last year, against the world No.68.
“I know it’s not going to be easy because I will have that pressure. I’m just trying to do everything possible to be ready,” said Ostapenko.
“Of course it feels like home also, because, I mean, I won the title here, and spent the two weeks here. I mean, just feeling great to be here.”
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, last year’s ATP Finals winner and seeded fourth, is the star attraction of today’s men’s draw, taking on Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
In a late change to the draw yesterday afternoon, Rafael Nadal’s original first-round opponent Alexandr Dolgopolov withdrew from the tournament. The ten-time winner and defending champion will now play lucky loser Simone Bolelli, the world No.130 from Italy.
◆ Dominic Thiem limbered up for Roland Garros by beating Gilles Simon to win the Lyon Open.
The Austrian world No.8 dropped the first set but hit back in a second set tie-break which proved pivotal. Thiem then raced away with the decider to secure a 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 victory.
The 24-year-old faces Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in the first round of the French Open, while home hope Simon meets Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Meanwhile, Marton Fucsovics landed the first title of his career by beating Peter Gojowczyk to win the Geneva Open. he 26-year-old Hungarian broke the serve of his German opponent twice in each set to wrap up a 6-2, 6-2 victory.