Yesterday afternoon Johanna Konta put on a mesmeric display, qualifying for the semi-final of the French Open with a straight set win over Sloane Stephens.
Konta has been in scintillating form so far in the tournament and it certainly showed in the quarter final as she swept aside last year’s runner-up, Stephens. She won the first set rather comfortably 6-1 and then followed it up with the next set and the match, edging out her opponent 6-4.
In doing so, she is now set to become the first British woman to feature in a French Open semi-final, since Joe Durie in 1983. On that occasion, Durie was unable to get past the semi-final stage, losing out to Mima Jaušovec. It was a game that started promisingly for Durie after she won the opening set 6-3 but then it was all downhill. She lost the following two sets and a place in the final.
The 26th seed, Konta, will be hoping she can go one better and make the first Grand Slam final appearance of her career. This will be her third appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final but Konta is still yet to feature in a final.
In 2016, she reached the semi-final of the Australian Open before missing out to the eventual winner, Angelique Kerber. New year, same result as in 2017 she was again defeated in a major semi-final, this time missing out on a spot in the most illustrious finals of them all at Wimbledon against Venus Williams. Konta failed to take a set in either of those semi-final defeats.
Speaking after her victory with BBC Sport, Konta said: “To play on the new Chatrier court against a top player and at the level I did, I’m really proud of myself.
“It’s hard to say if it was one of the best matches of my career, but dealing with conditions out here and against an opponent like Sloane who can run away with it, I was pleased to get her on the back foot and control the points a little bit.”
The Briton started off emphatically, claiming the first set in just 35 minutes, whilst delivering four aces on the way.
Her place in the semi-final never really looked in doubt after starting the second set with a break which proved to be crucial. Stephens provided a more competitive set winning four games as apose to just the solitary one in the first set, but she never really looked to have a chance after that crucial hold eluded her in the first game.
Moving on from the quarter finals, the Briton now face the tough ask of beating unseeded Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova, tomorrow in Paris.
The young Czech has shown some great ability herself in getting to the last four and make no mistake about it, Konta will need to treat her opponent as any other even though she is still just a teenager.
Will Konta reach her first Grand Slam final?
(Image via the Evening Standard)