Johanna Konta reaches US Open quarter-finals for the first time

Johanna Konta shows her joy after beating Karolina Pliskova. Picture: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty
Johanna Konta shows her joy after beating Karolina Pliskova. Picture: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty
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Johanna Konta pulled off one of the biggest wins of her career by beating third seed Karolina Pliskova to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.

The British No 1 dropped the first set on a tie-break but battled back to win 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5. In doing so Konta became the first British woman to reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows since Jo Durie in 1983.

Konta had lost six of her previous seven matches with Pliskova, including twice on her home turf of Eastbourne, as well as in Nottingham and Birmingham. None of those defeats will matter now with Konta continuing her fine season in the grand slams with a third successive appearance in a quarter-final.

It was a see-saw of a match, Konta holding two points for a double break in the first set, only to be pegged back and blown away in the tie-break.

Down a break in the second, a hold to love stopped the bleeding before three break points were engineered. Eight points in a row brought Konta level at 3-3 and another break had Pliskova suddenly feeling the heat. At 5-3 two break points were saved, the first with a super forehand down the line, the second with a meaty volley, and when the Czech went long Konta levelled the match.

In a nip-and-tuck final set, Konta produced a gutsy hold to love for 5-5, and then broke to 15 to serve for the match.

One match point came and went, but when the second arrived and Pliskova’s return floated out, Konta raised her arms in celebration.

“The key was to just keep going,” she said. “You know with Karolina there will be massive portions of the match where I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m pleased to have played a great match. I’ve been in this position twice before here, so to go one step further is a massive achievement for me. Now I’m hoping to go two or three steps further.”

Serena Williams remains on course to win a record-equalling 24th grand slam title after defeating Petra Martic in straight sets – the American won 6-3, 6-4 in a little over an hour and a half – but she is now sweating over an ankle injury.

Williams went over on her right ankle in the second set and required a medical timeout to get some treatment. “I rolled it, it was a little frustrating,” she said afterwards. “It affected me a little mentally
because I have had a tough year with injuries.”

World No 2 Ashleigh Barty suffered a shock fourth round-defeat. The Australian, who won the French Open earlier this year, was beaten in straight sets by Wang Qiang, the 18th seed from China.

Below-par Barty was broken twice in the first set and saved two match points on serve in the second.

She had a chance to break back but the hugely impressive Wang, playing in the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time, held her nerve.

A fourth match point saw the 27-year-old over the line and into the quarter-finals.

“‘Q’ was very good, very solid,” said Barty. “I felt like she was able to put the ball with great depth in difficult positions for me.

“I still was able to create opportunities, it was just very frustrating that on the big points today, she played a lot better. I mean I had nine break points, and I wasn’t able to even get one of them, which is really frustrating.

“But it’s been a great season in grand slams, making the second week in every single one, which has been really special. Now we’ll sit back, reflect, and look forward to a big couple months to finish off the year.”

In the men’s singles, Roger Federer laid down a marker by dismantling David Goffin to reach the quarter-finals.

The third seed dropped just four games, winning the last nine on the trot, for a brutal 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 victory in just an hour and 21 minutes.

If Britain’s Dan Evans was feeling bad about the manner of his third-round defeat by Federer, he can surely take some comfort from the fact 
he won one more game than Goffin, the 15th seed.

Federer had looked susceptible in his opening two matches, dropping a set in both, but now he is cruising through the gears, motoring towards what looks likely to be another semi-final against Novak Djokovic.

Goffin, who actually broke Federer’s serve early in the first set, won just seven points in the third, the Swiss finishing him off with a stunning backhand pass down the line.

Federer, looking for a 21st grand slam title, said: “David didn’t have his best day, he was struggling.

“I was down in the score 
early and I was getting too down on myself, but when I got up a break I felt he wasn’t playing the same way I know he can play.

“It was a great day and I’m very happy.”