Wimbledon Day 5 | Konta keeps the flag flying into second week
Jo Konta struck the right note as she beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1 to make the second week of Wimbledon for the first time. It followed defeats for fellow Brits Heather Watson and Alijaz Bedene in the third round earlier on Day Five of the Championships.
They were tricky conditions for both of us. Gusty. Very happy. I competed hard and made sure I didn’t leave anything unturned. Jo Konta
Rock fan Konta will opt out of attending a U2 concert at nearby Twickenham on her weekend off before taking on Caroline Garcia of France for a place in the last eight to focus on making history.
The British No.1 became the first home player to make the last 16 of the ladies’ singles since Laura Robson in 2013 by dismissing Sakkari.
And, of course, it kept her on track to end 40 years of hurt for the host nation, who last cheered a native to the most coveted crown in women’s tennis when Virginia Wade sealed it in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
Konta said: “Unlikely I’ll be seeing U2. Hoping to see them later in the year. I’m here to hopefully be involved until the very end.
“People talking about me winning? I don’t think about that particularly. Everyone’s a potential winner. It’s one match at the time. I’m happy to come through another battle.
“The crowd support was absolutely amazing. Playing to a packed stadium is humbling. Something we dream of as young children.”
Konta emphasised her mental strength in coping with the hot and gusty conditions.
She said to the BBC: “They were tricky conditions for both of us. Gusty. Very happy. I competed hard and made sure I didn’t leave anything unturned.”
The expectations are growing as quickly as grass in spring that the Sussex-based world No.7 can achieve glory by the end of the Famous Fortnight.
The seeds were sown with her rapid rise up the rankings over the past couple of years.
And in the previous round, against Croatian Donna Vekic, those hopes were positively blooming given the guts, determination and class shown by Konta.
And it never looked like it would be a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dust-cart’ with the way Konta dealt with Sakkari in front of the full house on No.1 Court. No let down. Just more of the same.
The difference was that Konta did not have to put in the monumental effort she needed to put in against Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend in their three-hour-plus marathon which lit up the Championships, the encounter taking just 76 minutes.
Konta showed a calm assurance mixed with a ferocious will to win, features of her Wimbledon thus far. She kept herself in a cool frame of mind, never revealing how her emotions were churning away behind the façade.
Konta got her nose in front and her opponent, world-ranked 101, did not get another look in. In fact, Sakkari had to wait until the fifth game before winning a game in the second set.
There was a mini-wobble in the sixth game of it as Konta conceded a break point with her second double fault as all and sundry were writing off Sakkari.
As BBC commentator John Inverdale said: “Counting chickens is a dangerous business is sport. Put them back in the hutch.”
It was a false alarm as Konta succeeded in maintaining her composure to hold.
She completed a Greek tragedy for her opponent, instantly breaking her. The final shot was a powerhouse forehand forced Sakkari to weakly dump a backhand into the net.