Wimbledon 2017 - Konta halts Halep and hands Pliskova WTA throne
Johanna Konta battled past Simona Halep 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in a gripping quarter-final clash at Wimbledon on Tuesday, in the process thwarting the Romanian’s bid to become the new world No.1. Karolina Pliskova will instead move to the top of the rankings when they are published next Monday. As for Konta, she is the first British woman through to the Wimbledon semi-finals since Virginia Wade in 1978.
The rousing standing ovation spoke louder than words. On Tuesday evening at Wimbledon, after a quarter-final encounter of high drama and even higher quality, the Centre Court crowd rose in unison to salute Johanna Konta, the first British woman to reach the last four at SW19 since Virginia Wade in 1978. And Wim Fissette's protégée did it the hard way, storming back from a set down and holding her nerve when two points from defeat (at 4-5 in the second-set tie-break) to overcome Simona Halep 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 after two hours and 38 minutes.
"Right now it's a little bit surreal," Konta admitted to the BBC right after coming off court, "It's quite incredible how quickly things go in tennis. I'm definitely digesting things a little bit still." And yet although she was visibly overwhelmed following her victory – something that she could not be accused of during the match, when she kept going for it despite being on the ropes (just like in her second-round clash with Donna Vekic and in the round of 16 against Caroline Garcia), continuing to hit her spots and drop the hammer on serve – she nevertheless provided a fittingly calm and collected analysis of her performance.
Halep lost the match, Pliskova is the new world number 1
"I knew, going into the match with Simona, that she was really not going to give me much for free," explained the 26-year-old, "So I definitely had to be the one out there to create my own chances. I felt very clear on what I was trying to achieve out there, regardless of whether it was going my way or not. I felt I really stuck to my true self. I continued to trust in the fact that what I was doing was going to bring me good things." This belief was echoed by the 15,000 fans out on Centre Court, who rallied around Konta when the going got tough and roared her on right down to the final exchanges.
One of the biggest subplots to an occasion rich with narrative intrigue – Halep's bid for the world No1 spot, which will instead go to Karolina Pliskova – barely registered with a partisan home crowd, to whom the main story was all that mattered. For them, it was all about the 'JoKo' show, and they went away convinced that their hero can go all the way. The next obstacle in her path is a familiar foe in the shape of Venus Williams, the oldest semi-finalist at Wimbledon since Martina Navratilova in 1994.
The 37-year-old booked her semi-final berth by outclassing Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 to bring up her 100th match win at the tournament, where she has lifted the trophy five times. "I definitely feel that age is not a factor with her," gushed the Brit about the American veteran. "She's just a tremendous champion. I feel very, very humbled and I'm very excited to share the court with her again." Yet, despite these kind words, there can be no doubt that – with her eyes fixed firmly on the prize of a place in her maiden Grand Slam final – Konta will be determined to upstage Williams and make Centre Court her own once again when the pair meet on Thursday.