This just was not Jo Konta’s day.
As Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion, Wimbledon finalist and No2 seed here, was hitting an irresistible rhythm on a playing area big enough to land a helicopter on, the British No1 fell to earth in two one-sided sets, one win short of contesting a medal at her first Olympics. The German kept her shape as wind whistled around the cavernous Centre Court arena – where in the previous match, Andy Murray had to battle for two hours to subdue Fabio Fognini – and was well worth the 6-1, 6-2 winning margin. Konta did not surrender, by any means, but her normally solid ground strokes and reliable serve went missing as she struggled to put a clean racket on Kerber’s consistently deep replies. Mistakes were inevitable on both sides of the net in such demanding conditions but three double faults and 43 unforced errors in just over an hour’s tennis made Konta’s task impossible. It wasn’t as if she was not trying. Yet she hit 18 clean winners to her opponent’s seven, but was taking way more chances.
Kerber, meanwhile, played a tighter, safer game. She landed 84% of her first serves on a day when serving was a liability, hitting a relatively modest high of 156kph, and she consolidated her reputation as a fierce last-ball competitor, hunting down every chance.
In the semi-finals, Kerber plays the seventh seed Madison Keys, who spent a mere 53 minutes disposing of the Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1. Keys served big (six aces and three double faults) and hit big off the ground, with 30 clean winners. She will be tough – although she did struggle over three tight sets against France’s Kristina Mladen ovic, then was much improved in three sets against ninth seed Carla Suárez Navarro.
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