Johanna Konta loses to Jelena Ostapenko in Birmingham's Nature Valley Classic

Johanna Konta
Konta has not been beyond the second round in seven campaigns in Birmingham

Briton Johanna Konta's Wimbledon preparations were damaged by a second-round loss to Jelena Ostapenko in Birmingham.

The seventh seed, who reached the French Open semi-finals, was beaten 6-3 6-4 by the Latvian world number 37.

Konta will now hope to gather more match time on grass at Eastbourne next week before Wimbledon starts on 1 July.

Third seed Karolina Pliskova was knocked out by twin Kristyna, while Ashleigh Barty and Venus Williams won.

Konta stalls on grass after clay success

Konta had been the only Briton left in a strong field at the Edgbaston Priory Club after first-round defeats for Harriet Dart and Heather Watson.

And after a strong clay-court season, where she reached two WTA finals on the surface as well as the last four at Roland Garros, she had hoped to continue her good form on to the grass.

But the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist failed to make it past the second round in Birmingham for the seventh successive year.

Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion and also a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, won the first three games of the match to stamp her authority early on.

The devastating serve that the Briton had used to such great effect at the French Open let her down as she won 59% of her first-serve points.

She showed fighting spirit when she faced set point on her serve in the eighth game of the first set, saving it to force the Latvian to serve it out.

She also overturned an early break in the second set but then immediately lost her next service game to give 22-year-old Ostapenko sight of the finishing line.

Konta finally succumbed when she hit a fairly routine baseline shot long after an hour and 19 minutes as Ostapenko set up a meeting with Croatia's Petra Martic in the last eight.

"I'd like to think that come the end of next week or the beginning of Wimbledon, I will be that much more comfortable on the grass in the way I'm playing and also the way I'm moving," said Konta, who withdrew from last week's grass event in Nottingham.

"It's maybe my fifth day on the grass, my second match on the grass. So I can definitely take a lot more good things than not from this."

And she was soon smiling despite the defeat after a visit from her dog Bono, who she carried into the news conference.

"I think anyone who is struggling, just take a look at that face and you probably will do a little better."

Johanna Konta with her dog at Edgbaston Priory Club
A cuddle with her dog Bono made Konta feel much better after the loss

Kristyna wins battle of the twins

Neither of the Czech identical twins Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova had been pleased when they drew each other in the second round.

They had not faced each other for six years and were tied at 4-4 in head to heads. But now Kristyna, the much lower ranked of the pair at 112 in the world, has edged ahead with a narrow victory over her sister and third seed.

The left-hander's 6-2 3-6 7-6 (9-7) victory over her right-handed sister - helped by 24 aces - puts her through to a quarter-final against compatriot Barbora Strycova.

Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova embrace
Karolina Pliskova (left) and Kristyna have been sharing a room during the tournament in Birmingham

Barty & Williams advance

Earlier in the day, French Open champion Barty got her grass-court season off to a winning start with victory over Donna Vekic.

The 23-year-old Australian recovered from an early break in the first set to beat the Croat 6-3 6-4.

She is joined in the second round by American seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who beat Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 6-4 to advance to a second-round meeting with China's Wang Qiang.

Barty and Williams' first-round matches were among several to be postponed when play was suspended because of rain on Tuesday.

After a wobbly start against Vekic, Barty won five games in a row from the seventh game in the first set to set up a meeting with American Jennifer Brady, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 6-3.

Vekic, runner-up at the Nottingham grass event on Sunday, staged a mini fightback when she broke Barty during the Australian's first opportunity to serve for the match, but Barty sealed victory in her next service game.

Barty said that playing as a Grand Slam champion had freed her up, rather than putting pressure on her shoulders.

"I can just go out and enjoy it, enjoy every single match. It is an opportunity to try and be better and really go out there and just have fun," she said.

"It was really nice to come out now and kind of get back into a normal routine of playing matches again."

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