Konta woes continue with China Open first-round exit

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Johanna Konta's torrid run of form continued as she was knocked out in the first round of the China Open by Romania's Monica Niculescu.

The British number one fell to a comprehensive straight sets defeat to the world number 55, meaning she has now lost six of her eight matches since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was beaten by Lara Arruabarrena, but Agnieszka Radwanska (11), Karolina Pliskova (4), Caroline Wozniacki (5), and Elina Svitolina (3) all recorded routine wins to book their second-round spots. 

 

KONTA WOES CONTINUE

World number seven Konta's difficult spell after Wimbledon shows no sign of letting up as she was comprehensively beaten by Niculescu 6-1 6-2. 

The 26-year-old was a long way off her best as she succumbed to defeat in a little over an hour. 

The loss comes just days after she was dumped out of the Wuhan Open by unseeded Ashleigh Barty. 

RADWANSKA DEFENCE OFF TO A FLIER

Radwanska's bid to win successive China Open titles got off to a comfortable start as she eased past Carina Witthoeft 7-5 6-3.

Radwanska, who beat Konta in last year's final, completed her straight sets win in just under two hours to set up a second-round meeting against home favourite Zhang Shuai. 

"When you're defending so many points, it's always a little more pressure," Radwanska said. "There are no easy matches and you're going to have to play your best game from the first round. I'm very happy with a two-set win."

On her meeting with Shuai, the number 11 seed added: "She's playing great tennis at the moment. She's a very aggressive player and I'll have to be careful, play deep and be very aggressive myself - not to defend the whole match.

"Of course, the crowd will be loud for a Chinese player here, so I'm just going to go out and enjoy it."

 

PLISKOVA REVELS IN FAST COURTS

Fourth seed Pliskova booked her spot in the second round with a routine 6-3 6-4 win over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro. 

Suarez Navarro had won three of the pair's previous five meetings, but Pliskova triumphed this time in 73 minutes.

"I think the conditions suit me well, because it's pretty fast - the balls are flying," Pliskova said. "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."

 

SVITOLINA AND WOZNIACKI TRIUMPH

The highest seed in action on Sunday, Svitolina, barely broke into a sweat as she saw off wild card Zhu Lin 6-3 6-2. Barty awaits for the Ukrainian. 

Wozniacki, meanwhile, suffered a scare before ultimately beating Wang Qiang 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-1.