With the sun setting and the air cooling ever so slightly, Jo Konta beat Svetlana Kuznetsova, the eighth seed, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in a struggle of constantly ebbing fortunes to reach the Olympic quarter-finals.
The Russian saved match point in the ninth game of the third set and had Konta on the ropes again in the 11th game, before the British No1 held with an ace that kissed the line. Serving to stay in the tournament at 5-6 after three hours, Kuznetsova gave another two match points when she pushed a forehand wide. Again, Konta wasted the chances, also failing to put away a sitter at the net.
They fought through four deuce points and another two match points before Konta steadied her nerves to finish the job with a forehand that forced a final wayward response from the Russian. It was not one of Konta’s most fluid performances but it was one of her most impressive in terms of persistence and nerve – at least at the very end.
Konta will next face either second seed Angelique Kerber or Australia’s Sam Stosur, and she insisted thoughts of a medal are far from her mind.
“I’m just as far as I am close,” she said. “I just played an incredibly long match and right now it’ll be about me recovering the best I can and being prepared for tomorrow.”
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