By Jake Davies
- Johanna Konta defeats Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 7-6 (2)
- Konta vs Daria Kasatkina in the semi-final
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Johanna Konta made her way to her second tour-level semi-final of the season, after beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich in a tough three sets match in Moscow.
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Johanna Konta defeats Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (2)
It certainly was a match where we really saw the very best of Konta in patches. The match started off tensely, but it was the Konta that managed to finish the set in electric form, winning all of the last four games of the set, and causing plenty of damage off the backhand side and maintaining her aggressive court position throughout.
The second set was a much trickier for Konta as her high standards on serve definitely dropped. She looked more vulnerable in that regard and had to react in a positive way when the match was seemingly getting away from her. It felt like the doubts and frailties in Konta’s game throughout this 2018 season had slowly returned, but it was surprising just how well she reacted at the beginning of the deciding set.
In many matches gone by, Konta has been in winning positions, and in the position as favourite before stumbling her way through matches, often coming out on the losing end, but that seems to have changed during her successful week in Moscow.
When things seem to spiral out of control, Konta has found ways to steady the ship, control her groundstrokes, keep her head and believe in the process that is in front of her. Serving well under pressure was something that returned to her game in the third set, and she was able to start many of the points in great positions because of the impact of her serve in the service box.
The third set tiebreak saw Konta close to her best and she now looks forward to a big semi-final match-up against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
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Konta vs Daria Kasatkina  | H2H: Tied at 1-1
It is going to be a very different match for Konta. Kasatkina is on the rise but the Russian still has problematic elements to her game that Konta really can exploit.
Kasatkina’s main strengths is the array of shots that she has at her disposal. The Russian can pull off every shot in the book, but her main issue during her development has been timing when to use the right shots at the right time.
Konta’s biggest joy will come from the return of serve. Kasatkina does have a tendency to get through matches on the return of serve coupled with the impact that her heavy top-spin groundstrokes can have on a match, but her first and second serve are still big weaknesses and she offers far too many points and games over with how soft her service games can be.
Konta is the kind of player that thrives off seeing the same ball and maintaining a steady rhythm during the rally, while Kasatkina can offer different kinds of spin, heights and pace, so Konta really will have to be prepared for all kinds of shots and really maintain her discipline throughout this match, which is easier said than done, when you are the naturally aggressive player in the match-up.
Prediction: Konta in straight sets
Konta & Kasatkina are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 4:30pm (2:30pm BST).
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