By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [16] def. Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3
  • Faces No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova | Pliskova leads H2H 6-1
NEW YORK, USA – British women’s No. 1 Johanna Konta is the last Brit standing in the singles – can she make it into the second week?

 

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Johanna Konta [16] def. Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3

After having to battle past Daria Kasatkina in the first round, Johanna Konta hit her groove in the next two rounds, first dispatching Margarita Gasparyan for the loss of just one game before leaving Zhang Shuai looking despondent for much of the match.

It was another fine display of serving and more pleasingly a lot of variety at the right times which resulted in Zhang at times just burying her head in her towel at the change of ends, wondering what more she had to do.

Konta broke in a customary fast start at the beginning and the end of the first set, breaking again at the start of the second set. There was a little more fight in Zhang this time hold ogg Konta on two occasions as the Brit pushed to break twice more, but in the end could do nothing as Konta broke for the match.

 

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Konta v Karolina Pliskova [3] | Pliskova leads H2H 6-1

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The path to the final gets very tough for Konta as she gears up to face the No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova, who has largely flown under the radar this tournament. Pliskova has had the measure of the Brit on all surfaces but the pair have split their hard-court wins, which Konta winning their last in Beijing (2016).

A lot has happened for Konta since that breakout year, and she has regained a lot of confidence – although Pliskova won their only encounter this year in the Rome final during Konta’s astounding run on clay.

We can expect heavy groundstrokes and aggressive play from both, and despite her height, when Pliskova is at the net she has fair hands, so Konta’s new-found variety will be tested to the core.

Konta’s stats though this week have been impressive though, holding 24 out of 26 (92%) of her service games this week and is second only to Serena Williams (27/29, 93%). On the other hand, Pliskova has played more three-setters this season (17-10) than any other woman on the tour.

This sets up an intriguing match-up then as most of their previous matches have been tough three setters. Both have been equally consistent at the Slams this year with 13 wins each, with a first-time place in the quarter-finals on the cards for Konta with a win here.

Since reaching the final in 2016, Pliskova has made it twice to the quarter-finals but hasn’t managed to replicate her 2016 run in any Slam. She had a tough fight in her first round and had to come through in three sets in her last round, so we can expect another tough battle.

Overall Pliskova has been solid and consistent this year, but Konta will fancy her chances of making this a long fight.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

 

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