Konta dom­i­nates Wil­liams con­queror to soar into semis

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Si­mon Briggs

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.