It was a statement performance from Carla Suarez Navarro as the 23rd seed and clay-court maestro got off to a perfect start at the 2018 French Open with a terrific 6-0, 6-1 win over the hard-hitting Ana Konjuh in the opening round. Although the Croatian seemed out-of-sorts and was nowhere near her best, the Spaniard put up a solid display and conceded just one game in this encounter which needed just 42 minutes to complete.
Konjuh won just 12 points on her serve throughout the match while Suarez Navarro managed to hold onto her service games on all occasions, wiping off the sole break point she faced. Furthermore, the former world number 20 hit just six winners with a heavy price of 18 unforced errors while Suarez Navarro was clean on the statistical board, blasting 15 winners and just giving seven free points to her opponent.
Konjuh was returning from an injury having not played since the first week of January, and her ranking has dipped from 20 in July 2017 to 104 currently. The Croatian youngster was off from a breakthrough fourth-round run at Wimbledon last year but injuries soon derailed her progress as she went on a four-match losing streak soon. The lingering elbow injury affected her this year as well, having gone on a five-month hiatus after a second-round loss to Elina Svitolina in Brisbane.
Suarez Navarro whitewashes the Croatian in just 22 minutes
It was the perfect start for Suarez Navarro, who came out of the blocks firing as her opponent seemed to lack the match fitness needed to compete in a physically-draining clay-court match. Surprisingly, it was the Spaniard who was the player dictating play and controlling the proceedings as her opponent was powerless in her shots. Formidable forehand winners form Suarez Navarro saw Konjuh being broken to love in the opening game, and the 23rd seed easily consolidated the break as the Croatian was unable to find any good returns in.
Unforced errors were spraying everywhere from Konjuh’s game as she could not find her groove in her first match since January. Suarez Navarro seemed untouchable on her serve as the world number 104 was all over the place, sending almost every return straight into the net. It was relatively obvious that Konjuh has not returned to her best, and her decision to participate in this tournament could be due to the need for match play before getting prepped for her favourite stretch of the year — the grass-court tournaments.
Within a blink of an eye, six games came and went, with Suarez Navarro prevailing in all of them to take the one-sided first set 6-0 after just a mere 22 minutes, losing just six points on her serve while conceding just four points on the return. Whereas, Konjuh had a large contribution to Suarez Navarro’s points after committing 10 unforced errors.
Suarez Navarro easily closes out the win
It was the best possible start to the second set for Konjuh, especially after the disappointing first set. The Croatian claimed four consecutive points with the help of powerful serves and world-class net play and she earned the confidence-boosting service hold in the opening game, showing glimpses of her vintage form. However, she was unable to keep up her high level of play and ultimately Suarez Navarro battled back once more.
Konjuh started to commit a slew of unforced errors while it was Suarez Navarro who took full advantage — utilizing the spin and angles on her shots to claim six consecutive games once more. She rattled off 25 of the last 33 points in the match to clinch the impressive win after just 42 minutes of play, setting up a second-round encounter with Maria Sakkari.