Johanna Konta withdraws from US Open hours before first-round match

Johanna Konta has been forced to withdraw from the US Open with a left thigh injury hours before she was due to take the court in her first‑round match. Konta had been scheduled to face Kristina Mladenovic of France on Monday afternoon but she was replaced by Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova.

The withdrawal marks another setback for the British No 1 in what has turned out an extremely difficult summer as she also withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19.

Konta returned during the US hardcourt swing and produced an encouraging win against the world No 5, Elina Svitolina, in the Canadian Open before withdrawing from her last‑16 match with a knee injury.

Having been unable to defend quarter-final results from 2019 at both Wimbledon and the US Open, Konta may fall outside the top 60 after starting the season ranked 14th.

The 30-year-old is the fourth prominent player to withdraw from the US Open on the opening day of the tournament as the 13th seed, Jennifer Brady, the former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and the former top‑five player Jo‑Wilfried Tsonga all withdrew on Monday. Brady had been due to face Emma Raducanu in the first round on Tuesday, meaning the 18‑year‑old will make her US Open main draw debut against Stefanie Vögele, a lucky loser.

Also in New York on Monday the British men’s No 1, Dan Evans, defeated Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second round.

Evans had also contracted Covid‑19 in the summer, forcing him to miss the Olympics, and he is still in the process of recovering his fitness. Those physical limitations were evident for large parts of the match as he struggled in the New York heat and humidity. After taking a two sets to one lead, Evans even called on the trainer but he recovered well enough to finish strongly.

“It wasn’t easy,” Evans said of his victory. “I felt pretty bad. I just hung in there, 정말. I felt I was playing a bit better but physically I wasn’t feeling great. So I hung around and took my time, trying to get through and I did a good job in the end. I would probably say I was the better player from the end of the second set and I was probably a bit unlucky not to win the second.”

Evans said he took extra satisfaction in the first‑round win after his time away from the court in the summer. Asked if the physical issues were different from those he faced when recovering from Covid, he said he was not sure. “I had a pretty bad headache and I’ve never felt that before but feel very tired and I think that’s probably the main thing,” the 31-year-old said.

“I’m hoping it is, I felt pretty good at the end. Normally, in hot and humid [conditions] I enjoy it and I’m good in those conditions but not today. I said before the tournament that it’s hard to take one from the other. I don’t know if I haven’t played a lot, or it is the lasting effects [of Covid]. I’m hoping, obviously, that it’s not the lasting effects and I’m just not fit at the minute.”

후 10 main‑draw appearances at the US Open Heather Watson is still searching for her first win there. The former junior champion in New York was defeated 6-1, 6-4 by Kaja Juvan of Slovenia.

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