Johanna Konta is confident that, despite defeat in the Rome Masters final, her run to the Italian showpiece will only serve to kickstart a scintillating summer of tennis.
The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist lost 6-3 6-4 to Karolina Pliskova to cap a busy week in the Italian capital that saw her notch several notable scalps along the way.
And the world No.42-ranked Brit was sure to take the positives from an eye-catching run as she puts the finishing touches to her French Open preparations, which gets underway in just under a fortnight’s time.
“I’m super pleased in general with how I’ve been progressing this year and how I’ve been improving with every match,” she said after the final.
“To make it to a final here – this is my second biggest final after Miami – is a big moment for me and I’m really pleased to have taken part and pleased to be making that much more progress. I’ve really enjoyed my week.”
Just as in Saturday’s semi-final again Kiki Bertens, Konta dropped the first set on the Rome clay, spurning a hard-won opportunity to break back at 5-3 down, with Pliskova taking full advantage to get a lead on the board.
But there was to be no repeat in the showpiece against fourth-seeded Pliskova, who claimed the vital break to go 4-3 up in the second.
Konta showed typical fight right until the last however, as she forced the Czech to serve out three Championship points before sealing the title with a 6-4 second-set win.
The result by no means takes the gloss of what was an impressive tournament for the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist, however, with several standout wins claimed along the way to the final.
The 28-year-old comfortably dispatched American Alison Riske 6-4 6-1 in her first-round match and was rewarded with a tricky last-32 draw against Riske’s compatriot Sloane Stephens.
Konta mounted a stirring comeback after falling to a first-set tiebreak defeat to win 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-1 and advance to a last-16 match against yet another decorated American.
It was ten-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams who stood in her way, but Konta brushed aside her venerated opponent 6-4, 6-1.
A 6-3 3-6 6-1 quarter-final triumph against unseeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova set up yet another tricky contest, with sixth-seeded Bertens Konta’s next challenge in the semi-finals.
After losing out in the first set, Konta showed impressive resolve to fight back and secure a 5-7 7-5 6-2 victory, and with it a place in her biggest final since she won the Miami Open back in 2017.