June 14, 2018 / 5:21 PM / in 4 months

Konta beats Watson to reach Nottingham quarters

(Reuters) - British number one Johanna Konta battled to a 6-4 7-6(5) victory over compatriot Heather Watson in the second round of the Nature Valley Open on Thursday.

Tennis - WTA International - Nature Valley Open - Nottingham Tennis Centre, Nottingham, Britain - June 14, 2018 Great Britain's Johanna Konta celebrates victory in her second round match against Heather Watson of Great Britain Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Konta, a runner-up at Nottingham in 2017, continued her winning start to the grasscourt season as she aims to emulate last year’s run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon .

The 27-year-old was pushed to the brink by world number 69 Watson but outlasted her opponent to set up a quarter-final meeting with Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic.

“It was not easy for either of us and the conditions made it harder here,” Konta said.

Tennis - WTA International - Nature Valley Open - Nottingham Tennis Centre, Nottingham, Britain - June 14, 2018 Great Britain's Heather Watson in action during her second round match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

“It is never easy playing a compatriot, I feel fortunate because there was very little in it.”

World number 156 Katie Boutler, a British wildcard, also surprised the home crowd with a hard-fought 7-6(6) 6-1 victory over Australia Samantha Stosur, who is positioned 53 places above the 21-year-old.

Boutler’s reward is a quarter-final meeting with top seeded Ashleigh Barty, who brushed aside China’s Yingying Duan 6-3 6-2.

“I feel like I always play well in Nottingham,” Barty said. “So hopefully it’s third time lucky, and I can get one step farther in the tournament.”

The Australian has been beaten in the quarter-finals in the last two editions of the tournament.

Defending champion Donna Vekic recorded a 6-2 7-6(6) win over Belarusian Vera Lapko and will next take on Germany’s Mona Barthel.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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