By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Johanna Konta  def. Ekaterina Makarova  6-1 6-4
- Sets up a first time meeting with World No. 2 Serena Williams
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta set down a marker that she is coming for the World No. 2 and six time Australian Open champion Serena Williams.
Johanna Konta  def. Ekaterina Makarova  6-1 6-4
Barely skipping a beat from her dominant performance against Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round, Johanna Konta raced out to a 3-0 lead over Ekaterina Makarova, who she faced in the exact same round last year.
Then they battled through a taut three-setter, ending 8-6 in the deciding set. It was clear Konta was not looking for a repeat. Makarova gathered herself enough to get a game on the board before she was broken again on Konta’s way to wrapping up the set in under half an hour.
She had already frustrated the Russian to the point of her hollering at herself between points, and that seemed to have an effect. Makarova seems a lot more clinical as errors crept into Konta’s game with the Brit finding herself 1-4 down.
But has we have come to see from Konta, her steely determination to get the job done, point by point, game by game kicked in. The British No. 1 ran off five games on the bounce, breaking Makarova twice to wrap up the match on her second match point, saving another three breakpoints in the process.
She said: “Because of the way I played from the start, I made it difficult for her to get into the match. I don’t think she did much wrong, but I think I made it difficult for her at the beginning, and then she did a really good job in shift the momentum at the beginning of the second set.
“Again, I don’t think I did too much wrong there, either. She started playing better. I’m happy I was able to then hang in there – I trusted in the system that I was bringing to the court and what I was trying to achieve out there against her. I trusted in that.”
Konta v Serena Williams  – First meeting
Konta admitted she had watched Serena Williams as she was growing up, declaring it would be an honour to share the court with her, and we have to wonder whether the 22-time Grand Slam champion still commands that aura that often has the match won before her opponent ever steps onto court.
Where Konta may have the utmost respect for her fellow competitors, she has shown scant regard for that in her style of play. Aggressive, moving forwards, alright we admit she could do with softer hands at the net, but she has good movement, good power in her groundstrokes and her serve has been incredibly effective over the past week.
Williams was a little slow off the mark against Barbora Strycova, and this usually has the result of firing her up all the more. But she will have to figure out Konta having never played her – although she admitted she had been doing her homework.
Williams said: “She’s been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.”
Even if Konta’s serve is firing, Williams has a very solid return game so we can expect to see Konta really looking to attack, rather than ploughing into baseline battles with Williams.
There is no doubt that Konta has respect for all players, and for Williams, but she also has supreme confidence in the process that has served her well, not just miraculously last year, but has been building up consistently for the last couple of years.
Konta continued: “I have been fortunate enough that I have played her sister a few times, and I think she’s just as incredible in what she’s achieved in the sport. I mean, it’s, again, no introduction needed.
“I have played, over the last year and a half, quite a few Grand Slam champions and some former world No. 1s. So I have prepared myself as much as possible to play a competitor like Serena.
“So I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to trying, more than anything. I’m looking forward to just leave it all out there and give it my best.”
Konta and Williams will play their quarter-final on Wednesday.
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