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Johanna Konta vs Magdalena Rybarikova WTA Nottingham Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Konta seeks first WTA final on home soil

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 16 Jun 2017
  • Johanna Konta vs Magdalena Rybarikova is live from Nottingham on Saturday, 17 June from 11:00am local time/ 11:00am BST
  • Konta won their only previous meeting in Nottingham in 2015
Johanna Konta. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA)

Britain’s Johanna Konta continues her quest for a first WTA title on grass when she takes on Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova in the semi-finals of the Nottingham Open on Saturday.

Konta is looking to build up some momentum ahead of a very big summer, where the British number one will again shoulder the expectations of the home fans at Wimbledon. She has a dismal record at the All England Club, winning just one match in her five previous appearances, but her overall form this year, and performances in Nottingham suggests a deep run at Wimbledon could just be on the horizon.

She was superb on hard courts earlier in the year (baring a brief bout with injuries after the Australian Open), claiming two titles in Sydney and Miami and also reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. She struggled on clay- managing a disappointing 2-4 record that included an opening round loss to Su-Wei Hsieh at Roland Garros, but the grass court season has sparked a return to form for the 26-year-old.

Konta has advanced to the Nottingham semi-finals without dropping a set, moving past Tara Moore in the opening round when her compatriot retired injured, and taking out former US Open semi-finalist, Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.

Konta was again very good in the quarter finals, where she scored a 6-3 7-5 victory over Ashleigh Barty to maintain her hopes of claiming a first career title on home soil.

Konta was particularly strong on serve, getting in 72% of her first serve, and converting an impressive 69% of second serve points. She faced only two break points, dropping serve just once in the 90-minute contest. If there’s one area she could improve on moving forward, it’s certainly her break-point conversion rate, as she won just four of fifteen break opportunities.

Two of those breaks came in the first set, as she rolled through without giving up a break point. Things were tighter in the second as Barty began to serve better, and actually broke for the 3-2 lead, but Konta hit back for 4-4, and then missed two match points as Barty served to stay in the tournament at 4-5. She eventually got the job done when her opponent next stepped up to the service line, converting her fourth match point to seal a spot in the semi-finals.

"I am enjoying playing each match, I am getting much surer of my footing on the grass," said Konta. "I am enjoying working hard and executing my game plan with each match that I play. "That is something that happens with every player. It takes time to get used to a surface."

Next up for the British number one is Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, who has been in decent form since her return from a seven-month injury lay-off.

Rybarikova struggled with injuries in the first half of 2016, and played her last match of the season at Wimbledon, where she suffered an opening round loss to Eugenie Bouchard. She began playing tennis again in March, mainly on the ITF tour, where she has made very good strides.

Previously ranked as high as 31st in the world, but now outside the top 100, Rybarikova has been retracing a route back up the rankings since her comeback from two surgeries. She is on an eight-match winning streak on grass, after capturing last week’s title in Surbiton without dropping a set, stopping Konta’s compatriot, Heather Watson in the final of the ITF 100k event. The Surbiton title came just a few weeks after she won the 50K event in Fukuoka, while she also reached semi-finals in 25K tournaments in Altenkirchen and Istanbul.

In between all of that, she reached the second round at Roland Garros (in her only WTA main draw appearance this season before Nottingham), taking out top-20 player, CoCo Vanderweghe in the opening round before losing a tight third set 8-6 to Colombia’s Maria Duque-Marino.

Rybarikova has listed grass as her favourite surface- one of her four WTA titles have been on grass- and she is just two wins away from claiming her second title on the surface. The 28-year-old took out Dayana Yastremska in straight sets in the opening round in Nottingham before scoring a hugely impressive 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory over American, Allison Riske- who has played some decent tennis this year- in the second round. Rybarikova booked her semi-final ticket with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Kristie Ahn in Friday’s last eight tie.

Konta and Rybarikova have met once before- in Nottingham in 2015- with the British woman winning 6-3 6-3. She will be confident of reproducing the result when they meet again at the same venue on Saturday.

Rybarikova doesn’t hit the ball with any great power, but she can be a very frustrating player to face as she mixes up her pace nicely and manoeuvres the ball cleverly around the court. However, Konta has been in very good form, and if she serves, and strikes the ball as well as she can, she should secure a comfortable victory against the Slovakian.

Johanna Konta vs Magdalena Rybarikova is live from Nottingham on Saturday, 17 June from 11:00am local time/ 11:00am BST

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Johanna Konta vs Magdalena Rybarikova WTA Nottingham Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Konta seeks first WTA final on home soil

Johanna Konta takes on Magdalena Rybarikova in Nottingham on Saturday. Will Konta reach her first final on British soil? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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