Johanna Konta is being told she is now favourite to win a first Wimbledon title.
She responded to this pressure by overpowering Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 on No.1 Court to continue her voyage into uncharted waters in the Championships.
The No.6 seed is through to a fourth round clash with the No.21 seed, Caroline Garcia of France, and she will be delighted with the consistent hitting that took the match away from her young Greek opponent, who has been guided through the grass season by Mark Petchey.
With Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova not involved in the tournament, there is no clear favourite for the Ladies’ Singles and that is why Konta’s form has been attracting so much attention. This win will only increase the focus on the 26-year-old, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016 but had never before progressed beyond the second round at Wimbledon.
Does she see herself as a potential winner? “I am not particularly aware of what is being said,” she said. “Everyone is a potential winner and I want to be involved right to the end of the tournament. It was tricky out there, with the wind, and I had to take care of the simple things. The support is amazing and truly humbling. It is what you dream about as a young child.”
Konta added: “Favourites come and go and change daily. It is a massive compliment to have former players thinking highly of me, but I don’t spend too much time thinking about it or listening to that kind of talk. I am playing good tennis but I don’t think it is unbelievable tennis and I can get better.”
Konta was delighted to engage in forehand rallies with Sakkari, who lacked the consistency to really trouble the British No.1. Sakkari had more success concentrating on Konta’s backhand, which does not possess the same penetrating power. Konta uses it to open up the court before unleashing her cross-court forehand, which is hit very flat and with real pace.
This tactic allowed Konta to win the first set 6-4, in 39 minutes, and she took that confidence into the second set.
A series of backhand errors meant that Konta took longer than she wanted to break her opponent in the opening game.
However, she raced into a 4-0 lead that left Sakkari struggling to find answers to her many problems on court.
Sakkari did create a break point in the sixth game, only for Konta to snatch it away.
Konta, who reached the final on grass in Nottingham and was denied a place in the semi-finals at Eastbourne by a back injury, wrapped up the second set 6-1 and celebrated with a loud “C’mon”. Her victory was greeted with wild applause by the crowd.
Konta added: “The last time I played Caroline I lost in close final set in Indian Wells and she will really challenge me.”
Source: Chris Jones| Wimbledon