Wimbledon Day 7 | Konta rolls on
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One Jo emulated another at Wimbledon on Manic Monday when all singles survivors did battle. Jo Konta reckoned it “pretty special” in becoming the first Brit since Jo Durie to reach the quarter-finals of the women’s singles at Wimbledon when she overcame Caroline Garcia 7-6 4-6 6-4.
I’m playing against an incredibly tough opponent next. That’s my next battle. That’s all I’ve got my mind on. There’s a lot of work to be done between then and being in a position to be playing for the Wimbledon titleJo Konta
It was a victory which ended 33 years of hurt and put her on a revenge mission against tournament favourite Simona Halep, the Romanian who beat her amid controversy in Fed Cup in April.
The sixth seed admitted she has been inspired by the busts of Brits who won All England Club titles displayed outside Centre Court.
But even Virginia Wade, the last home player to lift the ladies crown (in 1977), failed to get her too hyped to declare she could win the tournament.
She said: “It’s very exciting. It’s another step forward to being involved in the event for the full two weeks. But it is a massive compliment to me (to emulate Durie). It’s a great achievement.
“Walking past the busts? Of course, I’ve dreamed since I was a little girl of being a Grand Slam champion.
“Virginia Wade’s opinion? That’s something that’s very complimentary towards me. It’s humbling that I have such champions thinking so highly of me. But right now I’m in the quarterfinal stage.
” I’m playing against an incredibly tough opponent next. That’s my next battle. That’s all I’ve got my mind on. There’s a lot of work to be done between then and being in a position to be playing for the Wimbledon title.”
She even declines to get too stirred by thoughts of avenging her defeat in the Cup when left in tears after Romanian captain Ilie Nastase allegedly swore at her and the home crowd reacted.
Even though Halep revealed little sympathy for Konta regarding the Bucharest bust-up after earning her quarter-final place: “In my opinion, the public was very fair. Was nothing to do. Some other stuff happened there. But she knows how she felt there.”
World No.7 Konta, 26, said: “I’m playing against another tennis player, another opponent. I’m not playing against a crowd. I’m not playing against a past experience. Again, they were not in my shoes. They were not being verbally threatened.
” I think it’s very difficult for them to understand my position in it. Again, that’s many, many months ago now. Again, I’m looking forward to playing against Simona Halep, the top tennis player, who is playing well right now.”
The British No.1 allowed her emotions to bubble to the surface for the first time in their tight 2hr .12min tussle.
She fell to her knees at the point of victory and dropped her racket before swapping pecks on the cheek with her vanquished opponent.
Her jaw dropped as she returned to her chair, raising her hands to her cheeks while the packed Union-Jack-waving No.1 crowd went ballistic.
The world No.7 had been the picture of cool as she maintained her focus and a blistering backhand in the nip-and-tuck encounter.
Konta took swift control, breaking her opponent in the first game of the match and holding.
The Brit had a set point at 5-4 before Garcia took her fourth break point in the game to level it up.
But the clinching point was covered in controversy. The shot was called out and Croatian umpire Marija Cicak did not overrule. Yet the official thought Konta had challenged. In the meantime, Garcia thought she might as well challenge that the ball was ‘good’. Hawkeye proved it was by, as BBC commentator Tracy Austin described it, ‘by a few blades of grass’. Konta complained to the official: “What made you think I challenged?”
But the Brit, who lost to Garcia the last time they met, at Indian Wells, regrouped to take the set.
Konta’s serve went AWOL at the start of the second and the home support saw their favourite broken twice. But she came back from 5—1 down to 5-4 before the French 21st seed levelled.
Neither opponent gave too much away in the final set. It went with serve for the first nine games, with none of them even going to deuce.
But the folk in the green bucket seats sensed their girl was on the verge of victory in the tenth, even though neither had blinked during it.
Konta came back from 30-15 down with a powerhouse backhand pass, gained a match point and then sealed a last eight spot as Garcia dumped a forehand in the net.