June 2, 2019
Jo Konta continued her thrillng run at Roland Garros with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Donna Vekic.
It could hardly have gone better for the resurgent Brit.
‘I was definitely pleased with the way I was playing and the problem-solving I was doing out there,’ said Konta later. ‘I felt I was being effective.’
Indeed she was, and Vekic rarely had the opportunity to show what she could do.
Now Konta faces a fascinating quarter-final clash with Sloane Stephens, who disposed of former champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets.
This is the best Grand Slam Konta has played since her amazing run at Wimbledon two years ago.
She feels anyone is beatable in the women’s game right now. And that mentality won’t just stand her in good stead for Paris.
With strong British support at her home slam guaranteed next month, there is no reason why Konta shouldn’t go deep again at Wimbledon 2019.
Could she even win it?
Meanwhile the battle of the single-handed backhands resulted in victory for Stan Wawrinka over Stefanos Tsitsipas after a five-set marathon lasting five hours and nine minutes.
The match ended controversially, as the Greek gambled by leaving a Wawrinka pass he might have volleyed.
But Tsitsipas had misjudged the key moment. The umpire came down and ruled that the ball had scraped the outside of the line on its way through.
The match was therefore over. Wawrinka had taken the final set 8-6 and booked himself a dream showdown with his compatriot, Roger Federer.
‘I haven’t beaten him many times in my career but I did once here,’ said Wawrinka, thinking back to 2015.
It promises to be a cracker, especially with Stan The Man in this kind of form.
Tsitsipas might well have progressed instead, had he not squandered break points that would have seen him serve for the match in that final set.
The youngster seemed to fall foul of fatigue and buckled slightly under pressure at the business end of proceedings.
Greater temperamental and psychological strength is something that will come with experience. But the new sensation isn’t quite there yet.
Still, it was a joy to see Wawrinka unleash telling winners from that explosive backhand and indeed his thunderous forehand.
There were perhaps too many errors in the match to make it a purists’ classic.
But it was genuinely dramatic, a real nailbiter. And Wawrinka’s nerve held better, as you would expect from a warrior with greater experience.
The old guard is still showing everyone else how it is done at Roland Garros, with Rafael Nadal through to face Kei Nishikori.
Now we can’t wait to see who comes out on top in the quareers – and what clues that might give us to the way Wimbledon might unfold in a just a few short weeks.
By Mark Ryan