Keothavong’s 6-4, 6-4 victory served as a timely boost to the 23 year-old’s confidence after disappointing weeks in Hobart and Auckland. She began 2007 in good spirits after winning the $25,000 Challenger tournament at Prerov in the Czech Republic but has opted to travel solo for the time being after an amicable split from coach Colin Beecher.
In common with most players, she found the gusty conditions difficult to master but her Japanese opponent, at 164th in the world ranked 21 places lower on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour computer, was even worse affected by the wind. A succession of double faults at the crucial stage of the second set served to unhinge Namigata and Keothavong was more than happy to capitalise.
Next she meets the 16-year-old French girl Alize Cornet and expects a far tougher encounter. “She is very young but very talented,” said the British No.1.
Cornet may only be ranked 195th in the world but she is on the way up and proof came in the way she beat Kateryna Bondarenko who was the top seed in the qualifying rounds.
“I have never played Cornet before but from what I have seen and learned from others, she is very solid from the baseline and uses her skills well,” Keothavong added.
“It’s probably fair to say that I arrived down here slightly under-prepared and that accounted for my disappointments in the first two tournaments of the year. Things are coming together a little bit now which is good considering I am without a coach at the moment but this next match is going to be tough.”
from the LTA site