Lifting SW19 title would be dream come true: Konta
Johanna Konta marched into the Wimbledon quarter-finals yesterday afternoon, the first British woman to do so since 1984, and promised that she still has more room for improvement in her tenacious powerful game.
Konta beat Caroline Garcia 7-6 4-6 6-4 on No.1 Court in a high-quality, physically demanding match that sets up a tie with Simon Halep in the last eight.
This was another contest between two very well-matched opponents and going deep into the final set it felt very much like Konta's epic second round defeat of Donna Vekic.
Konta eventually won the third set of that match 10-8 and this was heading the same way before she broke Garcia at 5-4 to complete her win.
But Konta showed many of the same qualities that got her through her previous contests: remarkable mettle and focus and enough power and consistency to overcome a skilful opponent.
Again, she showed why she has as good a chance as anyone of winning the whole thing on Saturday. Konta did not want to say too much about the possibility of winning in her post-match press conference, but she did say she has been dreaming of doing so "since (she) was a little girl". She may never have a better chance here.
This win was another triumph for Konta's mentality, as she took a first set tie-break, recovered from a second set wobble and then held her nerve with that late break in the third.
"It was a very close match," Konta said. "I don't think there was much in that again. I stayed mentally quite tough, tried just to knuckle down on every single point I could."
Garcia herself admitted that she "did not know" where the difference between the two was afterwards.
The pattern for the hard-hitting, back and forth match was clear in the first set, which Konta took on a tie-break. She started the match in the best possible way, breaking Garcia in the first game of the afternoon, returning with more powerful than the French ace could handle.
From there the contest was evenly matched between two powerful players, but Konta just lost her grip when she was serving for the set at 5-4 up.
Garcia forced two set points, which Konta saved, and then she earned a set point for herself but could not convert it. When Garcia had another set point, she appeared to hit it long, the ball was called out but then called in on review, to Konta's immense frustration.
So it went to a tie-break but Konta, to her credit, did not allow her frustration to deter her. Instead, she used it. The home favourite raced into a 3-0 lead, then hit a brilliant forehand winner with Garcia at the net.
Konta sealed the first set with a 108mph ace, taking the tie-break 7-3.
Konta had the momentum but Garcia is too good a player simply to be overwhelmed. Early in the second set she broke Konta, who was struggling to find the same range with her forehands as she did at the start. Then Garcia broke again, racing into a 5-1 lead. Konta could easily have let the second set go but she did not, fighting all the way back to 5-4, including a break-back, before Garcia served out for 6-4.
Much like Konta's epic match with Vekic, by the third set the two players were tired and the set looked to be going entirely with serve. Even at 5-4 there had not been a break point or even a deuce but then in the 10th game, with Garcia trying to serve to make it 5-5, Konta was just too strong. She finally forced a match point and Garcia put it into the net, sending Konta through to the quarter-finals.