Konta cruises into round two in Birmingham

London (AFP) –


Johanna Konta made a seamless transition from clay to grass by easing into the second round of the Birmingham Classic with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Estonian Anett Kontaveit on Monday.

Konta was making her first outing since reaching the French Open semi-finals and the seventh seed maintained her fine form to outclass the world number 20 in an hour and 12 minutes.

"I'm so pleased to get started on the grass, this is such a privileged time for the Brits so I'm happy," said Konta.

World number three Karolina Pliskova also eased into round two with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Russia's Margarita Gasparyan pulled off an upset in the opening contest of the day, defeating fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 3-6 6-4.

Svitolina has been struggling with a knee injury of late, but insisted she is pain free and fit for Wimbledon in two weeks' time.

"I feel better, definitely," said the Ukranian. It hasn't been easy for the past three months I would say, mentally as well. So I'm just happy to be on court playing and without the pain."

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka also exited the tournament, showing her frustration as she lost a break advantage in the final set to go down 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7/1) to Hsieh Su-wei.

There was disappointment too for British number two Heather Watson, who let a lead slip in a 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat by Barbora Strycova.

Watson was unhappy with a number of line calls and declined to shake the umpire's hand at the end of the match.

World number one Naomi Osaka will open her campaign on Tuesday against Greece's Maria Sakkari.