By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- Johanna Konta  def. Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1
- She advances to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time, but of course is no stranger to Slam second week
- Faces Caroline Garcia  next
- Head to head tied at 2-2
LONDON, UK – After the high emotions of her second round match, Johanna Konta was quick to dispatch Maria Sakkari to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the first time.
Johanna Konta  def. Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1
While the last sympathetic applause died away as Heather Watson, bowed out on Centre Court, Johanna Konta was ready to take a swing to restore some British pride. In front of her was a fearless up-comer Maria Sakkari who was actually disappointed, we were reliably informed by a Greek journalist, that she was not going to be challenging the British No. 1 on Centre Court.
We could see why from the opening exchanges with Sakkari swinging free, and although she lacked a bit of punch from her serve, she was 100% committed to her shots, and any sense of nervousness about being on even No. 1 Court were dispelled.
Konta, though, could match Sakarri’s aggression all day long, and was the first to break in what is becoming fast the norm, as the Brit likes to get off to a swift start. She backed it up with another break point chance at the next available game but was not able o convert for a double break cushion.
She might have hoped she had, when the Brit had to then fend off two break points on her own serve, as Sakkari made good use of the depth she can hit the ball with, but unable to convert, Konta was able to close out the first set comfortably.
Sakkari was made to work hard to try and stop Konta’s momentum, failing on the third break point, and from their Konta hit cruise control. After the high emotion of the second round encounter with Donna Vekic, a 4-1 lead was just the ticket as she finally broke Sakkari for a place in the second week of Wimbledon, for the first time in her career.
She said, after the match: “It was very different than my previous rounds. There was definitely an adjustment period to her ball. Like you said, she was swinging quite freely. She had great depth on her ball and was definitely challenging me with that.
“I felt quite clear of what I wanted to try and do I felt quite clear of what I wanted to try and do out there. I wasn’t able to necessarily do it the whole time. But I felt I really knuckled down and tried to stay tough when I needed to.”
Konta v Caroline Garcia  | H2H: 2-2
Earlier this year, Caroline Garcia arrested a two-match run from Konta in their head to head, beating her in a tightly contested three setter at Indian Wells. It was one of the rare times that Konta maybe even let down her guard in her post-match press conference leaving reporters under no illusions how disappointed she had been in her own performance.
Garcia sees to have had her own turning point this year – for so long almost afraid to be in the French spotlight in her own Slam, she positively welcomed the attention as she made her way to the quarter-finals. Obviously the shoe will be on the other foot this time, with Konta at the centre of the crowd’s attention, but fortunately for the Brit she does not seem to mind that at all.
Garcia is no slouch on the green stuff. Last year she won the inaugural Mallorca Open, and this year made a run to the semi-final so similar to Konta, she will be pretty match hardened by now. Like Konta, Manic Monday is the furthest the Frenchwoman has been at SW19, so for both there is a lot at stake.
Garcia has a complete game – she has a decent serve, and generates a fair bit of power, a flat and hard forehand and a solid enough back-hand. Perhaps Konta has the edge over the power she has in her own serve and ground-strokes, but will need to be pin-sharp if she comes in at the net. Her feel is possibly not as good as Garcia’s in the more finesse shots, but the Konta drive volley will pack a punch.
Garcia said, of the match-up: “I mean, there is a pressure and there is also the support. Doesn’t matter what you are doing. They are behind you and they are supporting you. Sometimes they give you more energy to go through some problem on court for everything. But for sure, if she’s winning today, would be a very difficult match for me.
“She’s a great player, great serve, great forehand and moving, wanting to put pressure on the other one. It would be very difficult. Maybe I will play on Centre. That’s nice, actually. I haven’t played.”
As always though, Garcia can be quick to blow cold, and Konta has the edge in terms of compartmentalising during matches, and much as we saw in the match against Donna Vekic, she may need that steely resolve to come through an equally tough match-up on Monday.
Konta certainly expects another tough encounter, saying: “She’s a very good player. She’s someone who is playing with a lot of confidence right now. I think she made the last eight in Paris, as well. She’s definitely playing with confidence in the slams.
“I think it’s going to be a very tough match. We played in Indian Wells. I lost to her I think 7-6 in the third there, so it was a very close match. I don’t anticipate anything different, other than a really, really tough battle for me.”
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
|Who is Konta playing?||Caroline Garcia  (FRA)|
|Head to Head?||Tied at 2-2|
|What time is Konta playing & where?||Konta & Garcia are scheduled for the fourth round on Monday|
|Where/How to watch Konta’s match?||BBC & Eurosport | Tennis on UK TV|
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