Johanna Konta suffers again as she crashes out of China Open

1 October 2017, 16:24

Johanna Konta's poor run hit a new low with a 6-1 6-2 defeat by Monica Niculescu in the opening round of the China Open.

The British No 1 arrived in Beijing having lost her last four matches and searching for a first victory since mid-August.

Romania's Niculescu is not one of tennis' star names but has arguably the most unorthodox game style on tour, slicing nearly all her forehands and denying opponents any rhythm.

For a player lacking confidence as Konta clearly is, it was a nightmare draw and the world No 7 endured a miserable 64 minutes.

While Niculescu was rock solid, Konta made 38 unforced errors in 15 games and never threatened a comeback.

It is a far cry from 12 months ago, when the 26-year-old made the final, while her slump since reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon has been dramatic.

But she remains well-placed to qualify for the WTA Finals in three weeks' time for the first time in her career.

Konta currently sits in the final qualifying position for the eight-woman end-of-season tournament in Singapore, and saw her two closest rivals, Kristina Mladenovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, also lose in the first round in Beijing.

But her sole concern right now will be trying to rediscover the form she showed earlier in the season.

Elina Svitolina made a confident start with a 6-3 6-2 first-round victory over Chinese wildcard Zhu Lin.

Svitolina, chasing her sixth title of the season, will meet Wuhan Open runner-up Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the second round.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska began her title defence in Beijing with a convincing 7-5 6-3 win over Carina Witthoeft.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova also made an impressive start to the tournament, beating Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-4.

"I think the conditions suit me well, because it's pretty fast - the balls are flying," Pliskova said on-court after the match. "I think I was serving well, and playing aggressive from the baseline."

"The key was that I wanted to be aggressive, so she doesn't have time to play her game. We played a few times already, always it was kind of tough, but today was the easiest match I've played against her."

Sky Sports Tennis will have all the action from the ATP China Open, Japan Open and Shanghai Masters before the action heads to Paris. The Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and season-ending extravaganza World Tour Finals at London's O2 in November end another memorable year which will covered via our website with live blogs and updates as the season reaches its climax.

On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis to join in the conversation. Who will win the World Tour Finals this year? Have your say...

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