After three consecutive losses to Johanna Konta, it appeared as if Sloane Stephens was finally going to stop the bleeding, at the Brit's home event—not to mention the biggest tennis tournament of them all. But yet again, Konta got the better of Stephens, rallying from a set down to prevail, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
All four defeats have come this season, including the French Open quarterfinal in June.
“It’s been a rough year with [Johanna] Konta,” Stephens said with a smile before the match. “I’ve got to get her this time. But she's a great player, so I'm just going to have to go out and try a new game plan, new style, try some different stuff and just compete.”
She did that early, in her first meeting against Konta on grass. Stephens hit clean winners from all parts of the court, and in the seventh game, the 26-year-old secured a pivotal break. She won the first set in the next game.
Konta did a tremendous job of erasing break points early in the second set, hanging on by a thread. Her resilience was rewarded in the 10th game, as the crowd favorite finally broke Stephens to even the score, send the Centre Court fans into a frenzy, and send the match into a decided set.
Riding her momentum, Konta won the first three games of the third set in which she was never serious challenged.
The 28-year-old Brit came into Wimbledon on the back of a breakthrough clay-court season, which saw her reach the Rome final and the French Open semifinals. She’ll next meet Petra Kvitova for a spot in the quarterfinals. The two-time Wimbledon champion, who is flying under the radar, raced past Magda Linette, 6-3, 6-2, earlier on Saturday.
Kvitova has won three of her four previous matches against Konta, the last one on grass in the 2018 Birmingham first round.