Konta reaches third consecutive semi-final in Nottingham
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Johanna Konta is safely through to her third Viking Open Nottingham semi-final after defeating eighth seed Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 7-6 (6) in just over an hour and 37 minutes
Johanna Konta is safely through to her third Viking Open Nottingham semi-final after defeating eighth seed Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 7-6 (6) in just over an hour and 37 minutes.
Konta has now made the semi-finals at each of her last three visits to Nottingham, including final runs in both 2017 and 2018.
For the second match in a row, Konta started brightly in contrast to her opponent who struggled to get her eye in and mis-timed a number of shots early in the match.
The two-time finalist broke in both the third and fifth games for 5-1 and appeared well out of sight of Van Utyzanck. The Belgian was granted a lifeline as a Konta volley sailed long for 5-3, but Brit’s return game was exceptional from the start.
Konta won 58% of points on Van Uytvanck’s first serve in the opening set and with further break point opportunities; she stepped forward onto a weak second serve to hit an unreturnable backhand cross court.
No one knows the Nottingham Centre Court quite like Konta and she seemed comfortable throughout the match. Van Uytvanck on the other hand couldn’t find her rhythm – every moment of magic would be followed by more mistakes and she was starting to get visibly frustrated.
Yesterday Konta had to power through a slight dip in the second set, but there were no signs of her dropping form in this one.
A shaky hold to begin the second set from the Belgian settled a few nerves and gradually she started to hold her own more in the longer exchanges. She set up break points at 2-2 but a beautifully bending ace from Konta put her back on track to secure the hold.
At 4-4 and 0-30, Konta’s serve once again came to the rescue as the Belgian struggled to cope with the sheer power and precision placement on both sides. Konta’s serve has been a weapon all week - racking up a total of six aces to take her tally to 29 this week.
In the tie-break Konta played two of the shots of the match. The first coming in off her serve, she rifled a drive volley into the corner and then at 5-3 she hit a glorious backhand lob over the outstretched Belgian.
A forehand pushed into the net by Van Uytvanck confirmed the victory for the Brit, who will now face Nina Stojanovic – who defeated 2017 champion Donna Vekic and Tereza Martincova in the previous rounds – for a shot at the final.
Commenting on her performance, the British No.1 said: “I was really pleased with the way I was able to create opportunities and then I was just hoping to take some.
“I’m just enjoying being out here, playing in front of you all and being back on this surface. I’m just trying to play as many matches and with that you can gain that match fitness and get that tightness to help you make the right decisions in matches.”
Rounding off the quarter-final action on Centre Court was Britain’s Katie Boulter, who was up against 14th seed Lauren Davis.
Looking to make her first WTA Tour semi-final, Boulter showed great strength to come back from a break down on three separate occasions in the opening set to eventually force a tie-break.
It was clear though that the British star was having trouble with her elbow and required medical attention before they got back underway.
Playing through injury, Boulter dazzled from the back of the court with some incredible winners and just managed to edge the tie-break to clinch the set.
However, Boulter’s injury would eventually prove too painful to continue and unfortunately she was forced to retire at 7-6 (6), 0-2.
In the ATP Challenger singles, Dan Evans battled with American Denis Kudla for two hours and two minutes before going out in three sets – 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
In the ATP Challenger doubles, Britain’s Ken Skupski will get a chance at lifting the title this weekend after him and Australian Matt Reid defeated Antoine Hoang and Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-5, 6-3. They will play Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith in the final.