By Britwatch Tennis
- Johanna Konta def. Ekaterina Makarova 4-6 6-4 8-6
- First British woman to reach the quarter-final at the Australian Open since Jo Durie in 1983.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Johanna Konta carved herself a little notch of history in becoming the first Briton to reach the Australian Open quarter-final in 33 years, after beating Ekaterina Makarova in a three set thriller.
Konta had been in ever imperious form after delivering a sizeable upset in ousting Venus Williams from the tournament in straight sets, and had not dropped a set on the way to the fourth round – her second in a row since making the same stage at the US Open last year.
However, she was up against last year’s semi-finalist, and although Makarova had struggled with injury at the end of last year, slipping a little down the rankings and seedings from last year, she was the undoubted favourite coming into the match.
Although it was a quick start and perhaps guilty of missed opportunities to go up a double break, Makarova’s experience started to tell as she wound her way back into the match, breaking back and taking advantage to seal the first set – the first time Konta had dropped a set.
The Brit made the perfect start at the beginning of the second, breaking Makarova, and having on to that advantage all the way through the set, to force a decider.
It is fair to say that nerves have been a factor as she has closed out matches, and after breaking Makarova to have a chance for serving for the match, perhaps they played a part in giving the Russian a route back in. From there it would be a case of now serving to stay in the match, as she leveled at 6-6.
The decisive break came again for Konta as she put the Russian under pressre, bt the nerves that had sometimes played a factor, were there no more as she served out to love.
“I really enjoyed the match for what it was. It was a very high-level match against a very, very good player. I took it as such. I didn’t put any more on it. It was definitely one of the more spectacular matches I’ve played. There have been a few. I still remember a junior match I played and I lost 12-10 in the third. That’s definitely still in my mind. In my adult career it was, yeah, one of the memorable ones.”
Eschewing celebrations for the need to ‘eat and sleep, and repeat,’ the hype surrounding her progress to surpass previous records will still pass the Brit by. She has made no secret about working with a psychological coach to help her enjoy her tennis more and make her a lot calmer on court than perhaps n her earlier years.
She said: “[Her coaches] definitely are huge advocates for good habits for me. They definitely are helping me stay in a good frame of mind, a healthy way of working. Like I said, I’ve accumulated a lot of information over the years. Yeah, no, I’ve always tried my hardest to learn from every single person that I’ve worked with. But, yeah, the team I have now have done a great job with me in simplifying this and also putting things into practical terms which I’m able to utilise when I’m out on court.”
Konta will play her quarter-final on Wednesday.
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