Johanna Konta said she was happy to be “getting back to normality” on Wednesday after recording an opening-round win over Naomi Osaka in Stuttgart. Discounting second-tier tournaments such as Challengers or Futures, this was only the third clay-court victory of Konta’s career.
She was referring to her switch from the wild frontier that was Constanta for the Fed Cup tie against Romania to the much more respectful environment of Stuttgart’s Porsche-Arena. Nevertheless, this was hardly a normal day, earmarked as it had been since the autumn as the date of Maria Sharapova’s return.
Despite being cast as the warm-up act in the great Sharapova circus, Konta managed to keep her mind on the court. That is one quality that she shares with the Russian: the ability to focus. She snared the first set on a tie-break, and then held on for a 7-6, 3-6, 6-1 victory. In the later stages, she was assisted by Osaka’s growing loss of mobility, as a result of a minor abdominal strain.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray did not have to hit a ball to move into the third round in Barcelona. His opponent, Bernard Tomic, withdrew before their tie citing a bad back.
And Rafael Nadal saw off Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the same stage. After playing on the newly renamed Rafa Nadal court at the Real Club de Tenis, Nadal said: “I want to thank everyone who makes this tournament possible, a historic tournament and one of the best of the year. It makes me enormously proud that this court bears my name. It's a huge honour and hugely satisfying.
“The court was a bit slower than usual because of the rain, but I'm happy, the (tournament) debut is always delicate. Tomorrow I will have to take another step forward against an opponent like Anderson. I'm happy to be in the third round.”