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Monday, 10 July 2017 15:20 PM BST
Konta hangs on to extend fairytale run
British No.1 edges out Caroline Garcia 6-4 in the decider to set up quarter-final with Simona Halep READ MORE

 Johanna Konta sunk to the grass after beating Carolina Garcia to become Britain’s first female Wimbledon singles quarter-finalist in 33 years.

The bookmakers’ favourite to win Britain’s first ladies’ Grand Slam singles title in 40 years overcame France’s Garcia 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 on No.1 Court in yet another nail-biting contest.

“It’s those positions, those situations that I dreamt of when I was a little girl, and even now, to be part of those battles on the big stages” said No.6 seed Konta, who follows in the footsteps of Jo Durie in 1984 by reaching the last eight.

“That’s really what it is all about to be a professional athlete,” added Konta, who had only won one match at Wimbledon in five previous appearances and nearly went out against Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the second round.

Yet now she faces constant comparison with Virginia Wade, who beat Holland’s Betty Stove in 1977 to win the title.

Konta plays French Open finalist Simona Halep for a spot in the semi-final after the Romanian ended the comeback of Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. Konta has won both of their two previous encounters.

“Well done,” tweeted Durie, who now works as a coach and commentator, shortly after Konta’s win. “Welcome to the last eight club.”

 “That’s very special,” Konta said about emulating Durie. “Very, very excited about that, and I really look forward to the fact I get to play again.”

Against Garcia, Konta played better on the big points, saving six of nine break points.

“I’m disappointed to lose after such a close fight. She’s very aggressive, which is working very well on the grass,” No.21 seed Garcia said afterwards. 

Konta’s rise has been nothing short of remarkable. A late developer who was ranked just inside the top 150 three years ago, Konta has made huge strides since she reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year.

That victory made Konta, born in Sydney, Australia to Hungarian parents, a household name in Britain. Now firmly ranked inside the top 10, Konta won an event in Sydney at the start of the season, and showed she belonged at the top of the game when she captured the biggest tournament of her career in Miami in April.

I’m disappointed to lose after such a close fight. She’s very aggressive, which is working very well on the grass

- Caroline Garcia

Just like Konta, Garcia knows a thing or two about the weight of expectation while playing in front of a home crowd.

Once dubbed “a future No.1” by men’s defending champion Andy Murray, the athletic Frenchwoman had a breakthrough Roland Garros last month, where she reached the quarter-finals for the first time.

Tied at 2-2 in previous meetings, Konta started their first encounter on grass well. She was playing aggressively, taking the ball early and stepping into her shots with Garcia often half a step too slow.

Serving for the first set, Konta suddenly found herself facing two break points as she played a few passive points. Although she saved both with a big serve, she overcooked a forehand on set point, and then was broken when Garcia successfully challenged a line call on her third break point.

Konta seemed shaken, complaining to the umpire she had stopped playing when the ball was called out, before handing the next game to her opponent with four errors. But serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Konta regained her composure as she held to love to force a tie-break.

Leading 3-1, Konta was given a huge roar from the crowd as she cracked a forehand past the oncoming Garcia. A forehand into the net followed and Konta had three more set points, converting the first with an ace.

Another change in momentum came in the second set, when Konta’s forehand started to falter and she quickly went down a double break. 

Television pictures at the end of the second set showed Garcia had positioned herself much closer to the net, taking the initiative away from Konta.

With neither player giving an inch in the decider, both held serve without facing a single break point until the tenth game, when Garcia gifted Konta a match point with a backhand into the net.

Konta crossed the finish line when Garcia finally cracked under the pressure, dumping a short forehand into the net.

“I have regrets in the last game,” Garcia said, before adding she had been impressed by the way her opponent has handled herself playing in front of a home crowd that last saw a British woman win the title when Virginia Wade beat Holland’s Betty Stove in 1977.

“She can definitely handle the pressure, and she did well in three first rounds already,” Garcia said.

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