Johanna Konta misses golden opportunity after losing to Barbora Strycova
Johanna Konta was unable to take advantage of another grand slam opportunity as she suffered a quarter-final defeat by unseeded veteran Barbora Strycova at Wimbledon.
The British number one deserved huge credit for getting to the last eight at a second consecutive grand slam but, as in the semi-finals of the French Open, when the favourite's tag was on her, Konta was found wanting.
Strycova plays a similar game to her fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova, who was Konta's conqueror in Paris, and there was an all-too familiar feeling as the 28-year-old let an early lead slip away before going down 7-6 (5) 6-1.
It was particularly disappointing coming after Konta's performances in the last two rounds, where she had recovered from a set down to defeat top-10 duo Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova.
Strycova more than played her part, using her full repertoire of shots and court craft to prevent Konta from getting into a rhythm.
The 33-year-old, who is ranked 54, said earlier this week it may be her final Wimbledon, and for her to move through to a first grand slam singles semi-final and take on Serena Williams is a tremendous achievement.
Konta insisted after her defeat by Vondrousova that she had no regrets but 33 unforced errors showed that this was a huge occasion where once again she was unable to bring anything like her best.
Konta had been hoping to match the achievement of England's Lionesses, many of whom were watching from the Royal Box, by reaching the semi-finals.
She could not have made a better start, saving a break point in the opening game and moving into a 3-0 and then 4-1 lead, but nerves were evident in the seventh game as Konta twice missed routine forehands wide and then blazed a backhand long to give back the break.
Against Kvitova she was able to use her opponent's pace but here the onus was on Konta to apply the speed to the ball all the time, which is never easy with an arm full of tension.
At 4-4, Konta was in danger of losing a fourth game in a row but she saved a break point with another drop shot and went on to hold.
She was spraying errors off her forehand - always the most likely wing to break down - but at least took the set to a tie-break.
It was close all the way through, with Strycova screaming after going the wrong way with a volley and getting passed for 3-3, but a netted forehand from Konta - her 22nd unforced error of the set - handed it to the Czech on her first opportunity.
The start of the second set was where Konta had seized control of the match against Kvitova on Monday but here she immediately found herself in deeper trouble when she dropped serve in the second game.
The end was nigh when Konta blazed a forehand drive volley over the baseline in another moment reminiscent of the French Open to drop serve again in the sixth game, and a final error sealed her fate.
Belfast Telegraph Digital