Barty faces Konta in Nottingham final

Johanna Konta

A furious Johanna Konta lost out to Ashleigh Barty in the final of the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham.

The world No.22, who beat Barty in the quarters past year before losing to Vekic in the final, breezed through the opening set. The British No.1 saved a pair of break points in the seventh game of the second set which would've given Barty firm control of the match, and won the last three games to force a final set.

Barty, who dropped just two service games in the tournament so far, lost nine points on serve during the match and perfectly used her sliced backhand to maintain the edge over the rising Japanese star, the only semifinalist who has never played a grass-court final (Donna Vekic has played two and Ashleigh Barty and Johanna Konta one each). "Do you fully understand that?"

Konta is aiming to become the first Brit to win a WTA singles grass title at home since former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade in Eastbourne in 1975.

She showed impressive resilience here, though, withstanding strong pressure to take the second set and then fighting back in the decider against the top seed and a player regarded as one of the best grass-court exponents.

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Elsewhere, second-seed Australian teenager Alex de Minaur eased past Belarusian fourth seed Ilya Ivashka, 6-2, 6-4, in the ATP Challenger event to set up a Sunday showdown with Briton Evans.

The 28-year-old had hoped to win the first title of his comeback from a 12-month drugs ban but was nevertheless happy with his week's work. "I had my chances".

This was the standout match ahead of Saturday's semi-finals, mainly due to the classic encounters that have occurred between these two in recent times. "I am sure she is going to be playing her best tennis". "But it wouldn't be my preference to miss the best slam there is". "I have really fond memories of it and always feel like I've played well here".

The Croat is playing her 20th overall semifinal and is now 17-3.

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