June 4, 2019
Johanna Konta hit new heights to beat Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4 in just over seventy minutes.
And the performance was so dominant that you wonder whether it will take the brilliance of Simona Halep at her very best to halt Konta’s astonishing run.
What a showpiece that would make at Roland Garros!
First, Konta must face the audacious brilliance of a 19-year-old Czech called Marketa Vondrousova. She beat the impressive Petra Martic 7-6 (1), 7-5 to make the semis.
As long as she doesn’t underestimate the dangerous youngster, Konta knows she has the experience to win through. She certainly has the form right now.
Stephens didn’t seem to know what had hit her. Konta served superbly and won 86 per cent of points behind her first effort.
She fired down six aces but it was the aggressive way she followed up her serve that was so impressive.
Twenty-five winners later it was all over, with Stephens never allowed to get into her stride.
This is the first time a Brit has reached the Roland Garros semi-finals since Jo Durie back in 1983.
Konta is not only back to the form that saw her reach the Wimbledon semifinals two years ago. She is actually playing even better.
After her quarter-final romp she said: ‘To play on the new Chatrier court against a top player and at the level I did, I’m really proud of myself.’
She paid due respect to Stephens, admitting the American is capable of running away with a match at any time.
But she also acknowledged she had been able to “control the points a bit and keep her on the back foot” – which was something of an understatement.
You had to remember that only a few days ago Konta had never won a main-draw match at Roland Garros.
Now she is on the verge of going all the way.
It is an incredible story and there is a touching side to it too.
Johanna misses her dog, Bono. Every time she wins, she has to wait a little longer before they are reunited for the British grass-court season.
It has become a regular feature of her post-match press conferences that she tells everyone how wonderful that dog is.
Well maybe it is time to tell Konta how wonderful she is too.
She had been in great form on clay already in recent weeks. But let’s face it, few if anyone expected her to go quite this deep in the big one in Paris.
And no one expected her quarter-final against Sloane Stephens to be quite so one-sided either.
Well done Jo! Whatever happens from here, you have done Britain proud.
And the Wimbledon crowds will flock to see what you can do once more at your home Slam.
What a summer of tennis this promises to be!
By Mark Ryan