Konta in red hot form

 - Ian Chadband

Former world No.4 gets goosebumps after another big win over rival Donna Vekic.

Johanna Konta© Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

It was only this time last year after Johanna Konta had bombed out of Roland-Garros in the first round for the fourth year running that she cut a particularly glum figure, bemoaning the coverage of her continuing series of clay-court tales of woe by scolding British press scribes.

Her complaint, effectively, was that negative reports were likely only to become self-fulfilling prophecies for her, affecting her confidence and only feeding the prospect of further failures on the red stuff.

Yet what a difference 12 months makes. On Sunday, Konta, already a Grand Slam semi-finalist at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, made it to the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros, becoming the first British woman to do so since Jo Durie 36 years ago, with her emphatic 6-2, 6-4 eclipse of an old friend and foe, Donna Vekic.

On a brutally hot high noon showdown, Konta told the Court Suzanne-Lenglen crowd she had actually felt "goosebumps", such was the thrill.

And getting to the last-eight was far from the end of the story, she hoped. “I have only been at this stage a handful of times. So to be back here, I'm definitely very pleased. This is not my end goal or anything. I would love to be here until the very end.”

Why not? Konta could not sound more positive now. Her transformation from unconvincing clay toiler, to Rabat and Rome finalist, and now playing at a level which makes her a live contender for that first Grand Slam triumph, demonstrates her real strength of character.

Against Croatia’s No.23 seed Vekic - with whom she’d previously shared the spoils in half-a-dozen matches, a couple which had been real ding-dongs on grass at Nottingham and Wimbledon in 2017 - she turned an affair which looked fifty-fiftyish into, well, a bit of a rout.

“I thought I had very, very few drops in my level, which I think definitely kept the pressure on her. The thing with Donna is until we shook hands, I thought there was always going to be an opportunity or a chance that she was going to raise her level or do something or even for me to drop," Konta said. "It's never a guarantee to play well throughout the whole match.”

Yet Konta, in red hot form as the temperatures soared into the 30s, did just that and was happy to agree this was one of her best-ever Grand Slam performances, a model of efficiency and adorned liberally with 33 winners. “Overall, just pleased to have come through that,” she enthused, “and just very pleased with the level I played.”

A step up

A level which, she accepted, would need to be enhanced for a last-eight meeting with either Sloane Stephens or Garbine Muguruza, Grand Slam champions both.

“I'm looking forward to it. It will be a great opportunity for me to play against one of the best players in the world,” smiled the No.26 seed Konta, who just seems to keep gathering momentum, especially after overcoming a heavy cold that bugged her during the opening week.

“I’m really doing my best at really enjoying the different matches I get to play and the different accomplishments that I get to experience. Today was definitely one. I'm really enjoying it and really grateful for it. Just happy to still be here.”