By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [6] def. Simona Halep [2] 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4
  • Faces Venus Williams next
  • Konta becomes first British woman to reach the quarter-finals since Jo Durie in 1984 and first semi0finalist since Virginia Wade in 1978.
LONDON, UK – Johanna Konta lifted the clouds over Wimbledon with a tense three-set win over Simona Halep to book her spot in the semi-finals, where she will face five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.

 

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Johanna Konta [6] def. Simona Halep [2] 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4

Despite questions to try and stir up the pot about that Fed Cup play-off tie, batted away by both players, it was a day to let their tennis do the talking. Under the roof, the Centre Court takes on a life of its own. The grass can be a little slicker because of the air-conditioning, and the ball flies a lot quicker , as Johanna Konta found to her cost. Despite some outstanding first serve stats for Konta, it was Simona Halep that seemed to pick up a lot quicker.

Konta’s serving got her out of trouble in a highly competitive first set coming from 1-4 down to level the match before forcing a tie-break. Some wild swinging though handed Halep the advantage as she edged ahead. The second set was a far more edgy affair – Konta looked to be by far the aggressor. Twice she brought up break points over Halep, but twice the Romanian wriggled free, as the pair battled up to another tie-break.

Again Halep looked to have the lead in her hands, but this time the momentum was swinging back towards the Brit and the enthralled Centre Court crowd as she levelled the match. It was a lengthy comfort break for Konta leaving Halep alone with her thoughts, and she started the brighter, pressuring Konta early with a before relinquishing her own serve to give the Brit the advantage.

The match finished however on a sour note, as a prolonged scream from someone in the crowd distracted Halep enough to dump a lame looking forehand into the net. Expecting that the point would be replayed, umpire Kader Nouni told her it could not be replayed, and she saw little point of challenging, as she explained.

Halep said: “I thought he’s going to repeat the point. I think it’s normal to repeat the point when someone is screaming like that. Because he said, We cannot replay. I cannot change anything. So why I should fight?”

Given the issues with the crowd after the incident with Ilie Nastase, Halep was asked if she felt that the crowd had been fair throughout the match.

She said: “Very nice and very fair. Just the last point, I was surprised that that lady was screaming. But the rest was nice atmosphere. I appreciated it.

“I think everywhere, in every country, if you are playing with someone from that country, is the same. The crowd has to be loud for the opponent because is from the country. I said before the match that I have no problems with that. Always when I play in my home country, is the same.”

We could be seeing a decent rivalry forming, despite the WTA and various other head to head sites not recognising Halep’s two Fed Cup wins. Konta has beaten her twice at the WTA Tour level, an now once in a Slam.

Konta said, after her match: “I think there’s definitely an element of knowing your opponent slightly more if you’ve played against her before. We played each other twice this year. I guess I was prepared to see her on the other side of the court again.

“But I definitely looked to treat today’s match on its own because she’s also in magnificent form. I think I was very prepared for her to really, really challenge me and make it very difficult for me, which she did.

“I feel very pleased with how I was able to, I guess, stick so closely to what I was wanting to achieve out there, and really just stuck with that from the first ball till the very last ball.”

Things seemed to move quite quickly for Konta with the scream on match point, as she explained:

“I think the crowd, there were some overenthusiastic moments, which happens I think with every match where it comes to a tense moment. I think it’s a part of sport, the crowd getting excited and getting sometimes a little too involved.

“But, again, I was just playing the next ball. I think we experienced it a couple of times in the match. All of us players have experienced that throughout our careers. But, yeah, then I wasn’t too sure. Then, yeah, I kind of followed lead of what was happening.”

 

Konta v Venus Williams [11] | H2H: Konta leads 3-2

The pressure will be building up on Konta, who has worked hard on controlling her emotions on the court, and the hyperbole will hit overdrive. She will be facing Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion whose grace on the grass has always made her a much-beloved crowd favourite here.

Her resurgence this year after illness and injuries was one of the most heart-warming narratives in the run up to the Australian Open final, and she has a real shot here too.

There are a lot of similarities between the two – they play a similar style of game, they portray an outer calm, as Williams explained in her press conference after winning against the newly crowned French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

“I’m sure she’s confident and determined. She’s probably dealing with a different kind of pressure playing here at home. But she seems to be handling it well. It looks like she really does well under the pressure. I’ve played her before, so it’s a lot different than today.

“I think we play a very similar style: aggressive, serve well, return well, very solid off the ground. So really it’s just about playing that game better and see where you find openings on that day.”

Being in a Slam semi-final is nothing new for Konta – she defeated Williams in her opening round at the Australian Open in 2016 on her way to the semi-final. She was of course defeated by Serena Williams this year at the quarter-final stage.

She added: “I think what Venus and her sister have given our sport is absolutely tremendous. The way they’ve elevated women’s tennis is truly inspiring. So I feel very excited and very humbled to be sharing the court with her again. We’ve had a few battles in the past. She’s got the better of me the last time we played, so I’m really looking forward to playing her.

“I’d like to think actually that all the matches I played, I know this will be my second slam semi-final, but I do think nerves and excitement and those sorts of emotions that come along with big matches aren’t necessarily specific to Grand Slam moments.

“I’ve been a part of some great moments and exciting moments in other events, as well. I’d like to think that I’ll be using all that experience come Thursday. Obviously I’ve been on court with Venus before, so I’m fully aware of the challenge that I’m facing.”

Konta and Williams will play their semi-final on Thursday.

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