Konta sets up Halep clash for Wimbledon quarter-final

 

By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Johanna Konta [7] def. Caroline Garcia [21] 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4
  • Faces Halep next, with their head to head tied at 2-2
LONDON, UK – Johanna Konta battled past Caroline Garcia to set up her third match-up this year against Simona Halep in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

 

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Johanna Konta [7] def. Caroline Garcia [21] 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4

We have been accustomed to Johanna Konta looking to impose her agenda at the start of the game and she must have had an early dinner reservations, with Konta breaking Caroline Garcia in the first game of the set.

Garcia started to settle more though as the match went on, bringing up a break point, but not able to convert, before her knocking on the door saw her save a set point and get the break back as they battled towards the tie-break.

Konta’s aggressive play paid off with two mini-breaks that afforded her a little insurance when Garcia got one of the breaks back. Another break of Garcia’s serve and a hold to take a second set point gave Konta the lead.

However, as she has said before, it does not take much for the momentum to shift, as Garcia struck twice in a row to build up a 5-1 lead. Konta went on to win the next three games before Garcia served out confidently to love to level the match.

Konta had steadied the ship at the tail end of the set, with not a sniff of break point for either player in the decider. It came down to just a single break, with less drama than we saw in the second round match against Donna Vekic.

Konta said: “It was a very close match. I don’t think there was much in that again today. I stayed mentally quite tough. I tried to really just knuckle down on every single point I could. She was serving very, very well, so it definitely wasn’t easy to be active in her service games. Again, I just kept on trying to get some momentum and some points under my belt.”

 

Konta v Simona Halep [2] | H2H: Tied at 2-2 (incl. Fed Cup)

We could be seeing a great rivalry beginning to form between this pair, and heaven knows this year has seen enough narratives to last a lifetime. First there was the complete disengagement from the quarter-final in Miami. Simona Halep had been in control but totally lost her grip on the match.

It had ramifications for the recent French Open finalist. Coach Darren Cahill stepped back and she was flying solo at the start of the clay court season, admitting that she had watched back the somewhat dysfunctional coaching time-outs and had felt ashamed of her performance.

She reset herself and he was back on side and her results have been on the up. She won back to back Madrid titles, and made her second Roland Garros final, although perhaps the less we say about that the better.

One thing is for sure – the Fed Cup scenarios have been put to rest, certainly by both players despite some journalists’ best efforts to stir it up again.

Halep took the approach: “I didn’t talk much about that subject with her. Just after the match in that day, I said, Sorry if she felt bad. In my opinion, the public was very fair. Was nothing to do. Some other stuff happened there. But, yeah, she knows how she felt there, and I don’t want to comment any more about that episode. It’s past. It’s very far.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Konta, who added in her post-match press conference: “That’s many, many months ago now. Again, I’m looking forward to playing against Simona Halep, the top tennis player, who is playing well right now.”

While confusingly the more established comparisons disregard the lower group tiers of Fed Cup, Halep claimed the opening honours in their first Fed Cup encounter three years ago, but a lot has changed for both players since then. Konta picked up the next two wins on hard courts and it really should be no surprise that Halep was a more solid performer on clay so the grass could be in Konta’s favour.

Coming in to the grass court season Halep pulled out of her warm-up events while Konta was the LTA’s marquee player and all three of the WTA tournaments, and suffered a heavy fall at the end of her Eastbourne campaign.

Both have found better form here, where it matters. Halep has yet to drop a set although she has been pushed at times. Konta has surrendered two sets on her way to the quarter-final. Her drive volleys have been on point but she plays Halep who is an expert scrambler around the court.

The Romanian said: “We played on hard court and clay court, so never on grass. It’s going to be a big challenge for me. She’s a good player. She’s playing well here. If she’s in quarterfinals, it means she feels the court.

“I’m here just to give my best. I know that it’s going to be very difficult match, like everyone. But I believe that I have a chance. I’m ready for it.”

Konta said, of the match-up: “We’ve played twice already this year, obviously in Miami and then again during Fed Cup. I think that is already some knowledge on each other.

“But she’s very much in form. She’s playing very, very well. I’m looking forward to playing her because, again, she’ll definitely challenge me. I’m really looking forward to playing someone who’s playing such great tennis.”

Konta and Halep are scheduled third on Centre Court, not before 3:30pm BST

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