By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta  def. Venus Williams  7-5 5-7 6-2
- Projected to rise to No. 14 in the rankings
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA USA – British No. 1 Johanna Konta won her first WTA title, beating Venus Williams in an edgy three-setter.
A Landmark Reached
The top Brit showed exactly why she has risen up the rankings at incredible speed since actually the hard court stint last year, as she handled two-time Stanford champion and seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams in a tense three setter for her first title.
Konta had soared into the Top 20, building on some great mid to end of year momentum, which included the quarter-finals in Nottingham and Eastbourne, and the fourth round of the US Open, and started this year with her run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
only thing that was missing was a WTA tour title, as she became the first British woman to reach the final of this event since Virginia Wade in 1981.
How the match was won
Konta started with intent, very aggressive from the off and trying take the missiles coming from the other side of the net a early as possible – not that it made much difference with Williams opening with a service hold to love.
No matter though because the Brit gave as good as she got in her opening game before belting some dream returns and breaking early. Williams did pick up the pace with some absolutely ferocious hitting to force the Brit to serve it out for the first set.
Perhaps the nerves caught up with the Brit, as Williams brought up her first break points in the match so far, taking it on the third break point to level the match at 5-5.
Williams movement and intensity was on the rise, as she started to get the measure of Konta, but as has become customary, Konta simply put her head down and got on with the business of breaking straight back, before serving for a one set lead to love.
As the momentum had swung one way, so it was coming back to the Brit, as Williams’ intensity dropped with Konta breaking Williams to love. It was as well not to get too carried away – we had already seen a tiny jitter in the first set. As more and more errors started to creep into the Williams game, suddenly Konta was gifted a double break cushion.
With the crowd willing Williams to get back into the match, the American clawed one of the breaks back. Nerves were flaring up again as Konta was left fending off break points once more as Williams levelled again.
This time the errors started racking up for Konta as she lost her fourth game in a row from being 4-1 up to Williams, to serving to stay in the set – the Brit grasped a lifeline from a couple of wayward Williams’ wallops to stay alive in the set.
It might have been enough to get a little courage back in her game – after an unintentionally hilarious coaching time-out where she asked Jose-Maria Garcia several times if she needed to be braver, only for him not to understand in the slightest.
The aggressive advancing up the court was beginning to pay off again as she started to paint the lines, but even after saving two set points, Williams broke one more time to take it into a decider.
The atmosphere seemed oddly muted as the first game in the decider rolled on, for a long Williams hold. There was a sense that a collapse might not be far away, and sure enough the Williams head dropped with a couple of lacklustre serves and a weary looking forehand to give Konta the lead once more.
A second break put Konta tantalisingly close to her first title. Her forehand had started to fire up again after going well off the boil in the second set.
There is no doubt that she earned that title – in perhaps the longest game of the match, Konta had to save three break points taking her first title on her third match point.
With that she rises to around 14 in the ranking, she denied Williams her 50th career title, and is the oldest player to win a Premier-level title from her first career final since Tsvetana Pironkova in Sydney in 2014.
After the match
As reported in WTATennis.com, after the match Konta told reporters:
“It’s a validation of all the hard work you’ve already put in and a motivator on the things you want to keep improving on, and the lengths you might go to in order to become that much better at your discipline.
“I’ve played her twice before and knew I’d be playing a magnitude of experience. Venus Williams doesn’t need an introduction, and I knew going into that I’d need to stay focused on myself and to be really grateful for the experience and try to learn from her within the match. I wanted to leave it all out there, but also absorb everything that I could possibly reinvest in my career moving forward.”
Williams has now lost two in a row this year to the Brit, in a match that resembled their first tight encounter last year in the Wuhan quarter-finals – where the American came out on top.
She said: “Credit to her for playing great tennis; she played so well and all of her balls were landing today. It wasn’t my best day, but I tried to stay in there and fight, and that helped me get an opportunity to win the match.”
— BOTW Classic (@BOTWClassic) July 25, 2016
— WTA (@WTA) July 24, 2016
Konta is the 15th seed at the Coupe Rogers, Montreal which starts on 25 July.
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