For the first time since 1983, a British woman will feature in the semifinals of Roland Garros. Johanna Konta continued her torrid clay-court run, defeating 2018 French Open finalist Sloane Stephens, 6-1, 6-4, in the first quarterfinal on Court Philippe Chatrier Tuesday.
“To be out here and play one of the best players in the world and play at the level I did, I feel really proud of myself,” Konta told Marion Bartoli on-court afterwards. “I’m really happy I got to enjoy this moment in front of all these people.”
The 26th seed, who was winless in her first four Roland Garros appearances, is now 15-3 on red dirt this season. Konta improved to 3-0 against the American this year, adding to victories in Brisbane and Rome, where she reached the final. After getting her first win in Paris, Konta, an avid baker, spoke about a need to adjust her mix of ingredients in order to find success on a surface that previously left a bad taste in her mouth.
“I have generally found that's actually rarely the baker, it's mostly the recipe. If the recipe is wrong, then the cake is probably going to be wrong,” Konta said. “I have never doubted my ability on the surface. I think there was certain work that I needed to put in, certain things that needed to happen for it to I guess go my way a little bit.”
Her clash with Stephens began with an eight-minute game, where Konta was forced to save an early break point. After holding, it was clear that testing game provided the confidence she needed. Konta hit her spots on serve and opened up the court with terrific backhand angles to finish the set with 12 winners.
A break for Konta to start the second set was followed by a love hold. For Stephens, opportunities to get back into the encounter just weren’t there. Konta was simply in the zone on serve, firing bullets to all corners of the box to lock up the impressive victory in 71 minutes. Konta's final stat sheet included 25 winners to 13 unforced errors, and just five points out of 38 conceded when making her first serve.
"She was serving really well. There is not much you can do when someone is playing like that. She definitely played her game today," said Stephens. "Just wasn't meant to be. I didn't get a chance to really get into the match, but sometimes that happens."
Konta will look to become just the third woman from Great Britain to reach the Roland Garros final in the Open Era when she faces either defending champion Simona Halep or American teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova. Sue Barker was the last British woman to lift the trophy in 1976.
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