Eastbourne Tennis: Battered and bruised Konta bravely makes semi-final after beating Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber
As far as tough days at the office go, this will rank as a memorable one for British No.1 Johanna Konta who, battered and bruised, advanced to the semi-finals of her home town tournament.
When Konta’s aching head finally hit her pillow late last night, she could reflect on a remarkable day where she beat newly-crowned French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko in three tough sets swiftly followed by a rousing victory against world No 1 Angelique Kerber, it was her first victory over the German left-hander. Victory was all the more dramatic as during her third match point she fell badly, banged her head and required on court treatment for six minutes. “I’ve seen some terrible falls over the years but that was one of the worst,” gasped BBC commentator and former British No 1 Sam Smith.
A groggy Konta finally rose to her feet and bravely closed out the match 6-3 6-4 against the top player in the world, who holds the US Open and Australian Open titles. Earlier in the day, the dangerous Ostapenko was dispatched 7-5 3-6 6-4.
Konta, along with the other quarter finalists, were forced to play twice in a day because of rain delays throughout the week. The 26-year-old, looking a bit dazed, said: “I have a bit of a sore head right now. It’s been a busy afternoon. The important thing is that I go away and recover as best I can.”
She will face last year’s finalist and world No.3 Karolina Pliskova, who beat Konta at the semi-final stage in 2016. The Czech forced her way into the last four as she triumphed in a topsy-turvey three setter 7-6 2-6 6-4 against 2004 Eastbourne champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. Konta added: “Pliskova and I have played many times and every time I’ve played her, its been an incredible battle.”
For the first time in the tournament’s history there will be two British players in the semi-final. Heather Watson, who received a wild card to Eastbourne, beat Barbora Strycova 6-4 1-6 6-4. Watson will go up against 2009 Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in the last four after the Dane battled from a set down to beat world No 2 Simona Halep.
“I didn’t think about the second match,” Watson added. “I just focused on the first. When I got through that I just kept on going. I feel great today, the body feels great. Caroline is a great player, she’s a great athlete. I’m looking forward to it.”
In the men’s Novack Djokovic said he got exactly what he needed as he overcame determined American Donald Young in straight sets, 6-2 7-6 (11-9). After cruising in the first, the 12-time Grand Slam champion survived two set points in the second before clinching victory in a thrilling tie-break.
“It was a great first set and after that I had opportunities to break serve in the second and I didn’t use them, he broke my serve at 4-4 and had set points. I am glad I overcame the challenge - it is exactly what I was looking for,” said the 30-year-old Serbian. The world No 4 will play 21-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals.
British player Cameron Norrie, 21, who earned his first ATP main draw victory against Horacio Zeballos on Monday, bowed out in straight sets to French No 2 seed Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2. There was some cheer for Norrie however as he was handed a wildcard into the main draw at Wimbledon. Monfils later made it through to the semis as he powered past Aussie Bernard Tomic 7-6 6-0. It will be an all French affair in the semi-final as Monfils will play compatriot Richard Gasquet. World No 30 Gasquet came through his quarter final 6-4 6-4 against South African Kevin Anderson.