Tennis: Cirstea cracks Konta resistance to advance in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sorana Cirstea rallied from a set down to upset ninth-seeded Briton Johanna Konta 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in the second round of the U.S. Open on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Second Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 22, 2020 - Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in action during the match against Cori Gauff of the U.S. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The unseeded Romanian sent down 38 winners and won 13 of 16 points at the net to advance to the third round at Flushing Meadows for the third time in her career.

Konta made a strong start, breaking Cirstea’s serve in the opening game before running away with the first set, but paid the price for making 40 unforced errors.

The 29-year-old became the third top-10 seed to be knocked out of the women’s draw, joining top seed Karolina Pliskova and number 10 Garbine Muguruza in making an early exit.

“I think my level was a lot higher than hers in the first set,” Konta said. “We were battling kind of toe-to-toe really.

“I did the best that I could. I really fought hard. I tried to find a way to get her out of the rhythm of playing that well. Overall she was just the better player in the end.”

Cirstea initially had no answer to Konta’s deep returns, winning only 42% of her first serve points in the first set, but the Romanian grew into the contest, improving that percentage to 72 in the second to force a tiebreak.

She raced into a 6-2 lead and sent the match into a decider with an ace.

Cirstea broke early in the third set to go 2-1 up, and though Konta broke back immediately, the Romanian regained the upper hand when she chased down a drop shot to break again to lead 4-3.

Konta earned three break points in the next game, but Cirstea battled back for a crucial hold before sealing the win with her seventh ace.

The 30-year-old will face Czech 20th seed Karolina Muchova in the third round.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond