French Open 2018: Johanna Konta loses to Yulia Putintseva in first round

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport at Roland Garros
Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta made 32 unforced errors against Yulia Putintseva
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number one Johanna Konta's struggles at Roland Garros continued as she lost in the French Open first round for the fourth successive year.

The 22nd seed lost 6-4 6-3 to Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.

Konta spoke positively in the build-up about her ability on the red clay, but made too many unforced errors against an opponent ranked 93rd in the world.

Heather Watson, Britain's only other player in the women's draw, faces France's Oceane Dodin on Monday.

"I never really found my rhythm," Konta said. "I never really found the way I wanted to play.

"And I think, obviously, there's some of that to do with her. I think she played quite smart."

Konta pays price for unforced errors

Konta's stock rose, along with her ranking, on the back of a wonderful grass-court season last year, in which she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals.

But she has struggled to match those heights since, reaching just one quarter-final this year, in Brisbane in January.

Although clay is the former world number four's least favourite surface, she talked up her ability on the dirt before Sunday's opening match and pointed to her record in French Open qualifying as an indication she can perform at Roland Garros.

This defeat, however, was less to do with the surface and more to do with her aggressive, and sometimes wild, shot-making.

Konta made 32 unforced errors, compared with just 22 winners, with another loose backhand up the line somewhat fittingly ending the match, in an hour and 24 minutes.

"Unforced errors, obviously, are an indication of not being able to find your margins, which I obviously wasn't able to," Konta said.

"Otherwise, I think I just had a bad match."

Konta's exit leaves Watson on her own

Konta's defeat leaves British number two Watson as the country's sole representative left in the women's draw.

The 26-year-old has endured a difficult year in terms of results, losing eight matches in a row before ending that run in Nuremberg last week.

"Relief was the overriding feeling because I'd not had a win on the WTA tour for a while," Watson, who has dropped to 86th in the world, told BBC Sport.

"I wasn't thinking too much about the run but the media was, and from that perspective it was nice to get it off my back.

"I don't feel like I was playing badly, just things weren't clicking together."

Watson has reached the French Open second round on five previous occasions, with home hope Dodin standing in the way of a sixth opening success.

The tall French player is ranked well below Watson at 133rd and has also struggled for form, winning only one WTA Tour match this season and claiming just a handful more on the ITF circuit.

Britain's number three male player Cameron Norrie is also in action on Monday, having qualified for the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time, and faces Germany's Peter Gojowczyk.


Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith on BBC Radio 5 live:

Johanna Konta will be bitterly disappointed with that performance. She gave so many free points to Putintseva, who did play well.

If you hit 32 unforced errors with only 22 winners, then that is what happens.

But I don't see a reason why Konta can't become a good clay-courter. She serves well on any surface, has powerful groundstrokes and moves very well. She was just too offensive against Putintseva.