Konta takes out Halep at Wimbledon
Originally published on 11/07/17 00:00
It was the highest quality match of the women’s event so far and Konta showed great resilience to recover from a set down and eventually overcome her higher ranked opponent. Her reward is a semi-final showdown with the evergreen, Venus Williams, on Thursday.
Halep has not just lost her place in the competition. With a victory over Konta, the Romanian would have become the new world No.1 however top spot will now be occupied by another debutant. Karolina Pliskova, who was beaten at the second round stage, will be confirmed as the best player in the world when the rankings are updated on Monday.
The Romanian is undoubtedly the best defender in the game and her scrambling skills are so impressive. The 25-year-old tracks down every ball with gusto and she is most comfortable soaking up pressure and responding on the counter-attack. It was her willingness to be proactive in the first set tiebreak, though, which earned her the lead.
It was a disappointing ending to the first set for Konta however she never wavered from her task. The British No.1 maintained her aggressive mindset and began to carve open opportunities on her opponent’s serve.
Konta had four break-point chances in the second set but she snatched at her opportunities and had to endure another tiebreak. Locked at 5-5, the Brit secured a mini-break and then thumped a backhand crosscourt to ensure the drama would continue
In tight battles in the latter stages of major events, it tends to be the aggressor who emerges victorious. Konta remained camped inside the baseline in the decider and her relentless power-hitting began to have a significant impact.
Halep scurried and scampered, but she was unable to stay with the determined Brit in the decider and eventually succumbed to defeat. It was a landmark victory for Konta, and her winning moment was greeted by a cacophony of noise as the Centre Crowd saluted their heroine.
‘It’s incredible how quickly things go in tennis,” admitted Konta after the match.”I felt very clear on what I was trying to do and achieve out there, regardless of whether it was going my way or not. I felt I really stayed to my true-self and just tried to create as many opportunities as possible.
“I knew going into a match with Simona that she was really not going to give me much for free, so I definitely had to create my own chances. I felt I did that, and I feel fortunate that I took a few of them.”
In the first quarter-final of the day on Centre Court, Venus Williams prevented Jelena Ostapenko from securing a 12th win in a row at Grand Slam level. The five-time winner defeated the 20-year-old 6-3 7-5 to reach the last four at the All England Club for a 10th time.
It was a match-up between the oldest and the youngest competitors left in the draw and the experience of Williams proved to be telling factor. Ostapenko blasted her way to unlikely success in Paris last month, however she struggled to find her range at the start of the match.
Ostapenko made just 44% of first serves in the opening set and her second delivery is the weakest aspect of her game. Williams took full advantage and a break achieved in the second game was all she required to move halfway towards victory.
The Latvian was more involved in the second set and she was thumping winners in her own inimitable way. Williams was not perturbed, though, and made her move in the 11th game to secure a significant breakthrough.
The American, in her 20th appearance at Wimbledon, stepped up the line to the complete the formalities and become the oldest semi-finalist at Wimbledon since Martina Navratilova in 1994.
Williams may have been a professional for 23 years, but her passion for the sport is undiminished. “I love the last day you play, you're still improving,” said the only former champion left in the draw. “It's not something that is stagnant. There's always a reason. You have to get better. I love that. The competition keeps you growing. You have to get better if you want to stay relevant."
Garbine Muguruza is into the semi-finals for the second time after a ruthless 6-3 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznestova.
The former French Open champion did not drop serve for the duration of the match and she will retake her place amongst the world's top 10 when the rankings are released on Monday.
“I think I played good,” said the delighted Spaniard after her 75 minute triumph. “I was very clear on what I had to do as we’ve played a lot of tennis together, and I’m happy that it worked out.
“I’m trying not to think a lot and just going for it. I think I’m a completely different player [compared to two years ago] as I’ve learned a lot of things and I know how to be calmer in tough matches. My breakthrough was here [at Wimbledon] so to be back, hopefully in the final, makes me so happy.”
Magdalena Rybarikova was the final player to advance through to the semi-finals. The 28-year-old defeated Coco Vandeweghe 6-3 6-3 in a rain-interrupted contest to become the first Slovakian to reach the last four at Wimbledon
Rybarikova, unseeded and ranked No.87 in the world, will play Muguruza for a place in the final. After the match, she said: “I can’t believe it. I never believed before the tournament that I could reach the semi-finals. I had only been playing ITF tournaments so I had no idea how I would play here, but I could never have expected this.”