By Derren Howard
Johanna Konta bowed out of her home town tournament after a three set loss to tournament top seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Konta, 27, went down 4-6 6-1 6-4 in front of a packed centre court at the Nature Valley International.
It was her first defeat in three matches against the Danish world number two.
Konta began the match in fine form and broke Wozniacki’s first service game. Konta, at her best, is a formidable opponent on grass and in the early stages her serve and accurate groundstrokes proved too much for Wozniacki.
It was a well-contested first set and a far greater test for the British No 1 than her straight sets victory against Aleksandra Krunić on Tuesday.
Wozniacki, the No 1 seed for the tournament broke back but Konta replied with another break to make it 4-3. The pick of the rallies in the first set saw a fierce exchange from the baseline before Konta showed good variety with a delicate drop shot to seal the break before serving out the first set in 45 minutes.
Wozniacki is a competitor, as she proved when she won her maiden grand slam title in Australia earlier this year.
Her movement and her ability to force Konta to play one more shot saw momentum shift in her favour. Konta, who has dropped down the rankings from a career-high fourth to 22, remained competitive but unforced errors at key moments helped the Dane take the second set 6-1.
Despite some good moments in the third and encouraged by a home crowd, Konta, as has happened to many fine players on tour over years, was unable to break through a very good Wozniacki.
It was Konta’s seventh successive defeat against a top-10 player but there were enough good moments for the Eastbourne player to feel positive ahead of Wimbledon fortnight, where last year she enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals.
Wozniacki won Eastbourne way back in 2008 and, on this form, looks a contender for the Devonshire title once more. She will face another tough test in the quarter-finals on Thursday as she plays Ash Barty, the winner of the Nottingham Open, after beating Konta in the final.
Wozniacki said, “After the first set I think I got a little bit more of a rhythm and I played better. I was lucky to get it in the end,” Wozniacki said.
“We both played really well and I was just out there trying to get one more ball into the court and stay aggressive with the serves and returns.”