Eastbourne | Konta and Watson crash into the semis
For the first time in the tournament’s history two British women reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne in what was a day jam-packed with action as 36 matches were completed to bring the Aegon International back on schedule following the loss of a day’s play last Tuesday.
I got checked out and I've got no signs of concussion. I'm actually feeling not too bad. That's the most important thing Jo Konta
Both Jo Konta and Heather Watson battled hard through two matches to reach the last four on opposite sides of the draw. Konta even survived a dramatic and horrendous fall on match point to beat the world No1 Angelique Kerber.
The British No1 lost her footing chasing down a wide shot on her third match point and banged her head on landing. The shock of the fall reduced her to tears and retirement looked likely but after 10-minutes of attention, she picked herself up, dusted herself down to go on and claim, two points later, an emphatic 6-3 6-4 victory.
Konta, the world No7, who had earlier in the day defeated the French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 3-6 6-4, said in her on-court interview when asked how she felt following her fall: “I slipped and I hit my head, so I’ve got a bit of a sore head right now, but we’ll see.
“It’s been a busy afternoon, not just for myself but for all the players. We’ve played a lot of tennis today, so I’m definitely looking forward to recovering the best that I can and looking forward to playing again tomorrow.”
Later she added: “I got checked out and I’ve got no signs of concussion. I’m actually feeling not too bad. That’s the most important thing. I’ve just got a bit of a sore head, hope to have a chilled evening, and I’m sure I’ll pull up well (on Friday).
“I slipped, and I fell backwards. First my back and then my head went back on the ground.
“I’m just happy that I was able to make it two out of two. But most importantly, I felt I competed well in each match, and I played two very different players so I was quite happy with how I adapted.
“(It’s) the first time I have beaten (Kerber), so that’s a nice accomplishment for myself. Overall, I’m just happy with the day.
“It looks good on paper (to beat two grand slam champions), but obviously there is a lot of work that went into it. I’m just happy to give myself another chance to be in the semi-finals here.”
Hopefully she will have recovered fully to face the third seed, Karolina Pliskova who put an end to Svetlana Kuznetsova’s challenge 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4. “I played her in the semis last year and I have had many tough battles against her. I know that it will be very much the same story. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to playing against her” Konta said of her next challenge.
While Konta was demolishing Kerber on Centre Court, Watson was out on Court 1, where she continued to show remarkable grit and battling qualities to defeat Barbora Strycova 6-1 1-6 6-4. Another player who is recovering her poise on court is Caroline Wozniacki, the sixth seed, her next opponent, who in turn recovered from losing her first set to defeat the world No2 Simona Halep 5-7 6-4 6-1.
Watson commented: “Caroline is obviously a great player and a great athlete. Her strength, her movement, her quickness, how she reads the game – I’m not going to be able to rely on her missing balls, because she’s very consistent.
“I’m going to have to go out there and keep coming to the net like I have been and throwing some junk around. I look forward to playing her again.”
Watson had earlier defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-4 6-3.
Having become the first British women to reach the quarter-finals since Virgina Wade and Glynis Cole in 1975, there is hope that the pair will go and make it an all-British final.
“It’s great and also great for Heather,” Konta continued. “She’s a great player. I don’t think there is any doubt in that. So it’s great that there are two Brits in the semis and the crowd get to watch two Brits back-to-back.”
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic converted his fourth match point to beat Donald Young 6-2 7-6(9) Thursday to advance to the semi-finals.
“I’m just glad the way I kind of held my composure, my nerves,” said Djokovic, the world No. 4. “This is the kind of match situations that I was looking forward to having, and I’m glad it happened today and I managed to overcome that.”
Djokovic will next play Daniil Medvedev after the Russian player beat fourth-seeded Steve Johnson 6-3 2-6 6-3.
Second-seeded Gael Monfils will play seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet in the other semi-final after they both won two matches – in the second round and then the quarterfinals – on Thursday.
In the quarterfinals, Monfils defeated Bernard Tomic 7-6(4) 6-0 and Gasquet beat third-seeded John Isner 6-3 6-2.