Johanna Konta has made tennis history at the Australian Open, becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in a whopping 32 years.
Konta the conqueror – of her nerves and her peers – has transformed her tennis and her life.
Konta made an impressive debut in the main draw this year, beating 21st-seeded Ekaterina Makarova in the Melbourne match. Konta fought back to win in three sets, 4-6 6-4 8-6, in the fourth round.
Konta will be the first British woman to play in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam since Jo Durie, who played in the quarters in Wimbledon in 1984, according to the BBC.
The tennis excitement continues today, with world number one Novak Djokovic entering the stadium, ready to face off against Kei Nishikori.
In the most recent men’s match, Andy Murray managed a 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Australian Bernard Tomic, to reach the final eight. Tomic’s defeat means Australia’s title drought has now been extended to a massive 38 years. It was in 1978 that the unseeded Chris O’Neil captured the women’s singles crown in Melbourne, earning an Australian victory on home soil.
On Wednesday Konta will battle Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai. The Brit has her world number 32 ranking secured and will contest the quarter-final against another relatively obscure player.
The last Konta battle at Margaret Court Arena lasted three hours and four minutes. Konta vs. Makarova was a truly epic match — it was the second longest in the women’s tournament after Caroline Wozniacki’s painful first-round exit, according to the Guardian.
“I think I would have cried at the end but I’d sweated so much I didn’t have anything left in my body. There was a little bit in the corner of my eyes and I thought: ‘Jeez, there’s tears coming here.’ But there weren’t. There was absolutely nothing left in there. When the final shot hit the net and I put my hands up to face, it was more relief than anything else. There had been so much tension and emotion out there for so long that the end was just such a release. I was like: ‘It’s over at last, now I can go and eat!’ That’s all I plan to do for now. Eat, sleep, repeat.”
When reporters told told the exhausted Konta that she and Andy Murray will be the first British players to contest simultaneous grand slam quarter-finals since 1977, she said: “Wow, that’s really cool. I definitely didn’t know that but it’s excellent. It’s really good for British tennis.”
The rising tennis star added,
“I’m not really thinking about accumulating ‘wow’ moments, just solid experiences. I just look at the way I live every single day and the way I want to compete in every single match. It’s about doing my job.”
Nishikori and Djokovic have arrived to play the Australian Open 2016 quarterfinals today. Reporters noted that they had very different things to say about their performances in the previous round.
Novak Djokovic called his clash with Gilles Simon a “match to forget.” The No. 1 seed was clearly unimpressed with his own performance — Djokovic committed 100 unforced errors before eventually winning anyway, in five brutal sets.
Fox Sports reported with amazement on the “massive number of missed shots from the world No.1.” Djokovic gave credit to his French opponent for keeping him off balance. Analysts have stressed that Djokovic should watch out — like Gilles, Djokovic’s new opponent Nishikori favors the tactic of making you hit an extra ball.
“In terms of a level that I’ve played, it’s the match to forget for me,” Djokovic said of his win. He added, “When you are playing that bad and still manage to win, hopefully it’s going to get better next one.”
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)