Johanna Konta said she was looking forward to a “good night’s sleep” after her run at the Wuhan Open came to an end.
The 24-year-old Briton took Venus Williams the distance in a pulsating quarter-final, with the American winning the last four games to prevail 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a match that lasted two hours and 40 minutes.
Konta was serving for the match with a 5-3 lead in the final set but Williams, who struggled on her serve throughout, was able to channel her frustrations and take the victory. In the final balance, the margins were minimal as Williams won 107 points to Konta’s 106.
“I was happy with my overall performance and even though I was serving for the match I don’t feel I lost it; Venus raised her game and played incredible tennis,” Konta told Sky Sports News. “I grew up watching her and feel lucky that I got to share a court with a champion. But I also definitely wanted to win and I did give my best but in the end it wasn’t good enough.”
Konta, ranked 66th in the world, pulled off the biggest win of her career against the world No2, Simona Halep, in the third round. She will replace Heather Watson as Britain’s No1 when the new rankings are released next week.
“For me, rankings are neither here nor there,” Konta said. “What really makes me happy are the consistent performances I’ve put in here day in, day out.”
Konta started against Williams in much the same way she did against Halep, carving out two break points at 15-40 in the opening game, only for the American to recover to hold.
The 35-year-old seven-times grand slam champion then broke Konta’s serve to move 2-0 in front but Konta hit back in the third game, taking the third of her three break chances as she whipped a forehand cross-court as her opponent raced to the net. Williams broke again before going 4-1 ahead on her way to taking the set.
Williams, however, was not at her best on serve and continued to give Konta opportunities in the second set. Konta broke to take a 3-2 lead and then broke Williams again to secure the set 6-3.
Konta would strike first in the third, too, surviving a break point to go 2-1 ahead and then hitting Williams again for a 3-1 lead. Williams was visibly frustrated with herself, the noise from the crowd and some of the line decisions but just when it looked as if her emotions would get the better of her, she channelled her anger into some punishing shots, which quickly levelled it at 3-3.
A double fault gave Konta another break chance in the eighth game, however, and she took it at the second invitation, gaining a 5-3 lead – and the opportunity to serve for the match. Again Williams rallied, going 15-40 up. A cross-court shot was called out to give Konta another life but Williams ensured it was short-lived.
After Williams made it 5-5, Konta started to feel the pressure as mistakes crept into her game and she began to hit her shots long. With Williams on break point, a double fault from Konta made it 6-5 to the American and now it was her turn to serve for the match.
Konta took the first point, which sent Williams to the umpire to complain about a noise from the crowd, with the tension high. Konta looked as if she could capitalise when she moved 15-40 ahead but Williams rediscovered her serve and hit back to deuce. Konta pulled off a brilliant drop shot on match point but it only delayed the killer blow from Williams, who breathed a huge sigh of relief upon sealing the win.
Konta will return to Britain shortly and plans on playing in three European tournaments before taking a well-earned holiday.
This article was written by Press Association, for theguardian.com on Thursday 1st October 2015 14.58 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010