LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - British number one Johanna Konta made hard work of beating 103rd-ranked Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6(7) in her opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Konta, a semi-finalist last year, lost control of a match she seemed to have in her pocket and was mightily relieved to escape a sticky Court Two with victory, having squandered five match points in the second-set tiebreak.
With Andy Murray missing, Konta, seeded 22, and men’s 21st seed Kyle Edmund are shouldering the hopes of the home nation — a burden Konta seemed to be handling well for a set-and-a-half against tricky 21-year-old Vikhlyantseva.
She broke serve at 5-5 on her way to taking a tight opening set and had points for a double-break in the second set when Vikhlyantseva served at 2-4.
Konta failed to push home her advantage, however, and dropped serve in the next game.
Vikhlyantseva then held and Konta found herself in a difficult situation at 4-5 when she failed to punish a short ball and saw a backhand winner flash past her.
She saved the set point with a superb deep forehand from wide but a crass attempt at a dropshot handed Vikhlyantseva another chance to take the match into a decider.
Konta saved that one too but in the tiebreak she let a 6-2 lead evaporate and then served a double-fault at 7-6.
She got the job done at the sixth attempt though with an easy volley into an open court.
Dominika Cibulkova will provide a further test for Konta in round two. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)