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Konta ready to renew Vekic rivalry

Konta ready to renew Vekic rivalry
© Reuters
Konta and Vekic have won three matches apiece heading into their fourth-round clash.

Johanna Konta will renew one of her more interesting rivalries when she takes on Croatia's Donna Vekic in the fourth round of the French Open.

It will be a seventh clash, with the head-to-head currently tied at 3-3. Both women are thought of as better on faster courts and are playing in the last 16 here for the first time.

Vekic, 22, is at a career-high ranking of 24, two places above Konta, and the pair know each other well on and off the court.

"She's in great form," said Konta. "She's been playing great tennis. We have had some pretty impressive battles in the past, so there is no reason why Sunday can't be like that.

"When she's playing well, she's very tough to play. I will be expecting her to be playing well.

"It will be a good opportunity, another good chance for me to play against someone who is in good form, one of the best players in the world, and I will be looking to deal with the challenges as best I can."

Their two most memorable matches came within a few weeks of each other on grass in 2017, first in the final of the WTA event in Nottingham, which Vekic won, and then in the second round at Wimbledon, where Konta eventually came through 10-8 in the deciding set.

The 28-year-old, who went on to reach the semi-finals, said: "That was such a great match to be a part of, and I feel very fortunate to have come out the winning end of that. It could have gone either way. It's always nice to be a part of those matches where you do everything you can.

"The last time we played, that was in Acapulco on hard, and I thought she played a lot better than me there. It will be a nice opportunity for me to try to do well again against her."

Vekic won their last two matches in straight sets but Konta has been rejuvenated since beginning her clay-court campaign and was superb in a 6-2 6-1 victory over Viktoria Kuzmova in the third round.

Having reached the final in Rome, Konta has put herself, if not among the favourites for the title, then certainly in the picture, something that would have been inconceivable a few weeks ago.

France Tennis French Open
Britain's Johanna Konta celebrates winning her third round match (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

"Whenever I enter tournaments, I believe I can be there till the very end," she said. "It's a fine line. For me to stay present and to just deal with the work at hand and to sometimes let myself daydream thinking, 'Oh, it would be nice or that would be cool', or think of bigger things like that.

"I have been in two grand slam semi-finals, so I know the feeling of wanting to go a step further.

"There is definitely a habitual part of winning. If you get the chance to win matches back-to-back, you are able to draw a lot of things a little easier. I think you trust yourself a bit easier. Just backing yourself to be able to come out of tough situations."

Vekic hopes the emotions will be different than after their clash at Wimbledon.

"I remember being very sad after but it was my first time on Centre Court so it was a special experience," she said.

"I remember it was pretty warm that time and it's going to be tomorrow as well so that's good. I think maybe clay is not her favourite surface but she's been playing really well on clay this year so I don't know. I think nowadays it doesn't really matter which surface we're on.

"I know her well. We practise sometimes. She's a great girl. She cooks well. I know that much."

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