by Kevin Craig
Johanna Konta became to first British woman to make the Australian Open quarterfinals in 32 years with her 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 win over Ekaterina Makarova on Monday. The win sees Konta’s impressive run of form at the slams continue after she made the fourth round at the US Open in 2015.
Konta, who defeated Venus Williams in the opening round, was facing a semifinalist from last year and the No. 21 seed in Makarova who had only lost 14 games in her first three rounds, but did not back down from the fight. The two dueled for over three hours, not only for a spot in the quarterfinals, but also for a very good opportunity to make it to the semifinals.
Konta got off to a solid start, getting a look at two break points in the opening game of the match, before finally converting on a break point to take a 2-1 lead. The Brit continued to apply pressure on Makarova’s serve, seeing two more break points in a game that was 18 points in all. Makarova fought off that pressure though, and would go on to break in the very next game to get back on serve and shift the momentum to her side of the net. Makarova saved another break point late, before breaking Konta at 5-4 to take the first set, thanks to the help of a couple double faults in the final game.
After dropping her first set of the tournament, Konta showed no signs of disappointment as she broke in the first game of the second set and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. It was straightforward from there for Konta as she only lost nine points on serve throughout the set and didn’t have to face a break point in taking the match to a decider.
Both players were forced to work under pressure on their serves in the third set as four of the first eight games went to deuce. It was at 4-4 though, that Konta appeared to settle down, as she quickly held at 15 before getting a break at 15 to go up 5-4 with a chance to serve for the match. Makarova refused to go away at that point, though, as she was able to break back, prolonging the match for a few more games. Konta didn’t let the disappointment of failing to serve out the match get to her, as she broke again at 6-6 and would go on to serve out the match at love for the win.
Makarova was her own worst enemy throughout the match as she struggled to win points on her second serve, with only a 32 percent success rate, and sprayed 17 more unforced errors than Konta, including 23 in the final set. Break point conversion was a trouble area for both players as they each missed out on eight opportunities, but all that matters is that Konta got one more break than Makarova did, and that made her the winner.
Konta has been able to prove in recent months that she can contend with some of the best players in the world, garnering wins over Garbine Muguruza, Williams, and now Makarova. She will look to continue her best run at a slam with a very good shot at the semifinals, as she will take on qualifier Zhang Shuai in the quarterfinals.