Konta dominates Williams conqueror to soar into semis
former British No1 Laura Robson might have queried Johanna Konta’s new coaching relatonship with Thomas Hogstedt – the man best known for his work with Maria Sharapova. But this supposedly “weird” partnership is working well enough for Konta to have reached the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open.
Although Konta also made the last four of Monterrey – her last WTA event before lockdown – this is a far more prestigious event.
Konta’s latest victim was Maria Sakkari, the athletic Greek who had outlasted Serena Williams on Tuesday. The conditions on the Grandstand court were blustery, but you would hardly have known it from the way Konta kept crushing the ball. Even if her first serve took time to click, she was so dominant off the ground it hardly mattered.
This was a more comfortable win than the 6-4, 6-3 scoreline might suggest. Konta broke early in each set and kept threatening to gain an insurance break, but only managed to do so when Sakkari doublefaulted on match point down.
Konta will today face Victoria Azarenka, the former world No 1 and double Australian Open champion, for a place in tomorrow’s final. This will be the second time this week that Konta finds herself on the other side of the net from a former giant of the game who took time out to have a baby, the first being Vera Zvonareva on Tuesday.
There had been no particular reason to feel optimistic about Konta’s prospects when she arrived in New York’s biosecure bubble. A sore knee had contributed to a stuttering start to 2020, and then she suffered a disconcerting outbreak of heart palpitations on her return to the match court in Kentucky just over a fortnight ago.
But the fast and bouncy Laykold surface now in use in Flushing Meadows appears to suit her very well, and her health is better than it has been for months. Hogstedt will no doubt be enjoying his view from the stands.
Meanwhile Kei Nishikori has become the latest high-profile player to withdraw from Monday’s US Open. Nishikori recently contracted Covid-19, although he is now testing negative.
On the stretch: Johanna Konta defies blustery conditions to return the ball during an impressive showing