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I can still fulfil Grand Slam dream, says defiant Konta

Taking aim: Johanna Konta
Taking aim: Johanna Konta

By Andy Sims

Johanna Konta insists she is capable of winning a Grand Slam title as long as she keeps giving herself the chance.

The British No.1 has enjoyed a fine season in the Majors, with a semi-final at the French Open followed by a quarter-final at Wimbledon, and culminating in a first appearance in the last eight at the US Open.

However, that run at Flushing Meadows was ended by Elina Svitolina, the fifth seed, 6-4 6-4 on Arthur Ashe.

Konta was attempting to become the first British woman to reach the semi-finals in New York since Jo Durie in 1983.

But she fell short against a familiar foe, Svitolina extending her 100 per cent record against Konta to five matches.

"I do feel that was probably the best I felt her play against me. She played so well, to be honest," said Konta. "Actually, I didn't play badly at all. I felt like I was doing a lot of good things, a lot of the right things.

"She just made me play that extra ball. It's frustrating. I would have loved to have come through that and come through a challenge like her, but I guess it will just have to be next time.

"I definitely think it's just the more opportunities I give myself like this, the more chances I have of going a step further and even more steps further.

"I don't have any regrets or any hindsight in what I did before or during the match. I think I did a lot of good things.

"I think I can definitely still get better and better, especially against an opponent like her. I can take a lot of good things from this still."

Konta had been streets ahead of the rest of the field with the amount of winners she has hit this tournament and she had another 24 here. But that was offset by an unforced error count of 35, compared to just 13 from the metronomic Svitolina.

The Ukrainian made the first breakthrough in a hard-fought fifth game, Konta eventually succumbing with a backhand into the net.

Konta, with actor Tom Hiddleston watching from her box again, broke straight back. But she then promptly gave away break point with a misguided drop shot.

Back came Konta with another break point, but it was repelled with an ace as Svitolina clinched the opening set. Another unforced error handed Svitolina a break for 3-2 in the second as a Konta forehand drifted wide.

Konta immediately hit back for 3-3, a stunning drop shot flopping over the net just out of Svitolina's reach, only to then find herself at 0-40 and, when a volley fell short, she was passed and broken once more.

Konta faced two match points on her own serve, and gamely saved both to force the ball back into Svitolina's hand, but Svitolina converted No.3.

Meanwhile, Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu, into her first Grand Slam quarter-final, says she has never felt more confident at a tennis tournament and that she expects to win the US Open.

The 19-year-old from suburban Toronto will face Belgian 25th seed Elise Mertens today for a berth in tomorrow's semi-finals after beating US qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-1 4-6 6-2.

"It feels awesome. I've been working and dreaming of this moment for a long time, so it feels pretty good to be in the quarters here," Andreescu said.

Andreescu, who won WTA titles in March at Indian Wells and last month at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, would become the youngest US Open champion since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2004 if she wins Saturday's final.

Asked if she expected to win her first Grand Slam title this week, Andreescu replied: "Every tournament I go into, I want to win it. I expect a lot from myself which - yes, to answer your question."

Belfast Telegraph


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