Wimbledon 2017: Johanna Konta cooks up a storm with surge to SW19’s second week
The British No1 and sixth seed eased to an emphatic 6-4 6-1 victory over Maria Sakkari of Greece on Court One
Until this year, No6 seed Johanna Konta had won only one match at the All England Club in five appearances. She reached the second round last year.
This year, she has not just improved on that but has gone a big step further: into Round 4 and the second week.
And even though she has yet to play a seed, she has faced some formidable women. Both her opening opponents, Su-Wei Hsieh and Donna Vekic, could count wins on grass against Konta, and the latter won the Nottingham title in the process.
But Konta showed all her physical and mental strength to come through the three hour 10-minute test, 10-8 in the third, and to recover in time for a gutsy and full-blooded performance from one of new and promising players on the scene.
The 101-ranked Greek woman, Maria Sakkari, is just 21, and it so happened that, during her warm-ups for grass this week, she too had come up against Vekic at Nottingham and lost. She plays a big, fast game, is a woman who goes for her shots, and is certainly a prospect for future years at Wimbledon.
But Konta broke her immediately and held for 2-0, eventually serving out the set, 6-4, in 39 minutes.
The first game of the second set proved to be pivotal, and the Greek woman fought hard to hold off the onslaught from Konta. It lasted 18 points and more than 10 minutes, and the Briton at last got the break at the third attempt.
Konta was now in a big-hitting, confident flow, moving well and timing the ball sweetly. She broke again and held for 4-0. Sakkiri held in the fifth, but that would be her only game of the set, 6-1.
Now Konta faces yet another woman who has got the better of her more than once, Caroline Garcia, and most recently in a memorable battle at Indian Wells. That went to the Frenchwoman in a third-set tie-breaker—and this could go the same way.
The winner also faces the prospect of either Simona Halep or Victoria Azarenka in the quarters. As Konta has said repeatedly, when told she is now one of the favourites for the tournament:
“Everyone in the draw is in with a chance of taking the title. I’m pretty sure favourites also come and go, they change daily almost. I’m just here, happy to have actually made it into the second week, happy to come through three battles this week… But definitely working towards staying involved for a full two weeks.”