By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Johanna Konta [6] def. Donna Vekic 7-6(4) 4-6 10-8
  • Faces Maria Sakkari next
LONDON, UK – Johanna Konta reached the third round of Wimbledon for the first time after an epic rematch with Nottingham champion Donna Vekic, as her draw could be opening up, facing Maria Sakkari next.

 

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Johanna Konta [6] def. Donna Vekic 7-6(4) 4-6 10-8

British No. 1 Johanna Konta overcame an epic three-setter in a rematch with Donna Vekic, who defeated her at the start of the grass court season for the Aegon Open title in Nottingham. On that occasion, Konta got off to her customary quick start as nerves seemed to hit the Croatian, before she kicked in with her serve and took the title in what was a tight decider there too.

With the exception of two unconverted break points for Konta at the very start of the match, no quarter was being given with both serving strongly and some quality exchanges, both at the net and taken out of the air.

It was more a case of who would blink first, and a brace of errors and a double fault with a wild forehand put Vekic in the driving seat to serve out the first set. Nerves kicked in with Konta saving two set points before a double-fault set up a second chance to break for the Brit.

There were more chances to perhaps nudge ahead, forcing Vekic to save four break points in the process before a tie-break. Mini-breaks abounded before Konta edged ahead, needing just a single set point to close out a tight, high quality set.

With Vekic leaving the court, maybe a bit of momentum was lacking for Konta as she was broken in the first game. Although Konta regained that ground, Vekic broke straight back to retain her advantage.

The real drama was to come in the decider with Vekic failing to convert for a 7-6 lead, and once more at 8-8. In the battle of shifting momentum, both rescued themselves with big serving when at 0/30 down, but it was Konta who broke for a 10-8 win in the third set.

Konta acknowledged in her press conference that the match could have gone either way.

Konta said: “She was doing very, very many good things. She was serving well. She was moving well. I think both of us had to work quite hard for every single point unless we hit aces, which there were plenty, I think.

“I feel I competed well. I feel that even when the momentum shifted slightly to her side of the court, I still was competitive, and I still felt I kept my mind quite light and just really tried to, yeah, keep going.”

With a Centre Court crowd in full voice, Konta found the time to console a visibly upset Vekic at the net, having been in the losing position just a few weeks ago at the start of the season.

She said: “Because there was so little separation of going either way, I think you almost do end up feeling a little bit of both, or I do, anyway. I could easily put myself in her shoes and feel what she was feeling.

“It was more of a sense of kind of congratulating her and us for the battle that we presented on Centre Court, which was, I think, was a great atmosphere to be a part of.

“And then also just to understand also what she was feeling, because as players, we have all been in that position, as well.”

 

Konta v Maria Sakkari | First Meeting

Greece’s Maria Sakkari had a fair degree of drama on her way to the third round too. Having led 5-3 in the first set against Kristyna Pliskova, she dropped the first set and was 1-4 down in the second before the other Pliskova folded at the crucial moments.

The drama was not over as the Greek also had a nasty slip into the net, before settling herself down to close out her place in round three. Not surprisingly it was a little soon for Konta to start considering how she approaches this first meeting.

She explained: “I have seen her around over the last couple of years. She’s a good player. She’s in the third round, as well. So she’s played well to get to that stage, as well. I’m sure she’s had some battles.

“To be honest, obviously we are still digesting this round and I’m still focused on recovering from this match. But then when the time will come, I will talk about my next opponent with my team and we will get prepared for that.”

While Sakkari does not have a great serve, she has a good backhand and she burned Pliskova a lot with her drop shots. Konta’s movement around the court is solid, and her serving got her out of trouble on more than one occasion on Wednesday, and so it might well come down to some of those free points.

Prediction: Konta in straight sets.

 

Who is Konta playing? Maria Sakkari (GRE)
Head to Head? First Meeting
What time is Konta playing & where? No. 1 Court, not before 3pm BST
Where/How to watch Konta’s match? BBC & Eurosport | Tennis on UK TV

 

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