By Ros Satar

  • Elina Svitolina def. Johanna Konta 6-4 6-4
  • Konta closes out the last Slam of the year having made it at least to the quarter-final stage of three out of four
NEW YORK, USA – Last Brit in the singles competitions standing, Johanna Konta bowed out at the quarter-final stage, edged out by a very solid Elina Svitolina.


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Elina Svitolina def. Johanna Konta 6-4 6-4

Despite a couple of three-setters in her path, British No. 1 Johanna Konta had made a show of getting off to quick starts against her opponents, and finding a way to win, but the quarter-final was a step too far against Ukrainian brick wall Elina Svitolina.

The 2018 WTA Finals champion has long been seen as almost like the female Alexander Zverev – much anticipated of their potential but for a long time never really managed to tie it all together at the end, going 1-4 in quarter-finals, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals this summer and breaking the cycle.

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Konta has never found the way to get past the game of Svitolina, and from the start of the game Svitolina looked like the more natural aggressor, switching from defence to attack seamlessly and never letting Konta get into her game.

First blood went to Svitolina, but Konta is nothing if not resolute, breaking back immediately but could not hold on to any momentum as Svitolina broke once more for the advantage. Wrapping up the first set it was imperative for Konta to get off to a quick start and a serve to love looked like a step in the right direction.

In a mirror image of the first set, Svitolina pressed and was rewarded with the break, only to be pegged right back before breaking the British No. 1 again. The arm might have been a little tight as Svitolina had two chances to break Konta for the match, but third time was the charm as she served it out on her own serve.

As reported by the BBC, Konta admitted, after the match: “I do feel that was the best I’ve felt her play against me. I didn’t play badly at all, I was doing a lot of bright things. She just made me play that extra ball, it’s frustrating.”

Svitolina acknowledged that had been her tactic, saying: “Konta’s shots are very strong so you have to expect that. You have to react really quickly with your feet to get behind the ball, you know, try to make her hit one more shot. Today I did it very good to get lots of balls back and try to get my opportunity.”


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Three thoughts on Konta’s exit

There is nothing wrong with framing losses positively

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Look, when things go wrong we all want to find out a reason why? Was your racquet string wonky? Did you do all your superstitions the right way. Sometimes you just get outplayed and unlike the loss to Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Strycova, where people simplistically look at the age of the player and assume that the Brit has a god given right to win, tennis gods rarely see things that way.

Konta’s defence mechanism off the court is to frame her losses in a positive light. Can it be frustrating – yes. Do we have a right to demand a change to that – not really. Not everyone can be as pragmatic as a Karolina Pliskova who would happily tell you (expletive and all) how badly she played. Konta is just not wired like that.


What could Konta have done differently?

The frustrating was definitely growing, because no matter what she threw at Svitolina (and we saw kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, shower fittings, the works), Svitolina excels in finding a way to make an opponent play the extra ball, to coax the errors. The more Komta tried the press, the more the errors mounted.

She lost to the highest standing seed – think about that for a moment. For all the Slam finals that Serena Williams has made since her comeback after the birth of her daughter, she is still seeded No. 8 while Svitolina has remained a consistent high seed for a few years now, and finally is living up to that billing. Today she amply demonstrated why.


What does Konta take away from this?

A lot, hopefully. If we set aside that late night horror in Australia, her tide turned with her Fed Cup heroics, primarily in Bath but also at the Copper Box in London. Her clay court season was a landmark for her, and her run to the quarter-final at both Wimbledon and New York sets her back on a solid path up the rankings.

There will be disappointment, but if we have the choice to take the 2019 edition of Konta over 2017-18 edition – there is no contest. She is a better-equipped player than the one who made her 2016 breakthrough, and there is still plenty more to come if we consider 2019 as the groundwork.

The quarter-finals continue at the US Open, starting at 12pm (5pm BST).


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