French Open: Konta progresses to final eight

Published by AAP

Johanna Konta enters new territory at Roland Garros; Getty Images
Johanna Konta, who’d never won a main draw match at Roland Garros until 2019, progresses to the fourth Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career.

Johanna Konta has become the first British woman in 36 years to reach the French Open quarterfinals in Paris.

Konta, who before this year had never won a match in four appearances at the claycourt major, struck 33 winners, including seven aces to dispatch 23rd-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic 6-2 6-4.

On the hottest day of the tournament, with temperatures set to hit 31 degrees, Vekic was broken five times.

The last British woman to reach the Paris quarters was Jo Durie who eventually lost in the in 1983 semis.

Although Konta and Vekic had split their previous six encounters, including an epic 2017 Wimbledon second-round clash lasting more than three hours, this was their first meeting on clay.

After three-straight breaks of serve, No.26 seed Konta was the first to hold, going up 3-1.

With Vekic struggling to land a first serve, Konta went up a double break for 5-2. Serving for the first set, the Briton saved four break points before taking it with her third ace.

After swapping breaks early in the second set, a drop shot handed Konta another break. She held serve to love to clinch the match in 84 minutes.

REPORT: Nadal, Federer into final eight.

Konta will face last year’s runner-up Sloane Stephens, who defeated 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-4 6-3.

Seventh seed Stephens is the second highest ranked player left in the tournament, behind defending champion Simona Halep, and proved too solid for Muguruza.

Konta and 2017 US Open champion Stephens have met twice already this year, with the former winning both, including on clay at the Italian Open in Rome last month.

Earlier on Sunday, teenager Marketa Vondrousova continued to impress, thrashing Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-0 to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The 19-year-old Czech, who made last-eight appearances at Indian Wells and Miami and reached the Istanbul final on clay this season, blew the 12th seed off court with power and guile from the baseline.

Vondrousova tormented Sevastova with drop shots throughout, bagging the last nine games to advance.

She has won all her four matches in Paris within 90 minutes and without dropping a set.

She next faces Petra Martic, who had beaten her in the Istanbul final. The Croatian 31st seed advanced in three tough sets.

Martic snatched a 5-7 6-2 6-4 win over Estonian Kaia Kanepi.

Kanepi broke decisively in the 12th game to take the opening set, but Martic piled on the pressure as she raced through the second to force a decider.

Both players dropped serve twice in the first six games.

Martic saved a couple of break points at 4-3 before stealing Kanepi’s serve again to move 5-4 up and serve it out, prevailing on her first match point.

Martic’s career has been hampered by back problems, slipping in April 2017 to 662nd in the WTA rankings.

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