Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Konta Sets Up Serena Showdown

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Konta Sets Up Serena Showdown

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Newman in Melbourne

JOHANNA KONTA crushed another dangerous opponent here today to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and now faces the ultimate test. The Briton's reward for beating Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 is her first meeting with Serena Williams.

"I will cherish every minute out there," Konta said as she looked forward to taking on the world No2 on Wednesday. "She's one of the few players who is still playing who I watched growing up. As a young girl wanting to be a tennis player, it's an incredible honour. I can't wait to share the court with her."

Konta's victory over Makarova gave an indication of how much progress the world No9 has made since she reached the semi-finals here last year. When the women met at the same stage of this tournament 12 months ago, Konta won the third set 8-6 after a gruelling contest that lasted more than three hours.

This time she needed just 69 minutes to brush aside Makarova, who was a semi-finalist here two years ago and has two Grand Slam doubles titles. Konta served with power and precision, struck her ground strokes with authority, hit some huge returns of serve and made just 13 unforced errors.

She took the first set in only 24 minutes as Makarova struggled to cope with the weight of the Briton's shots. The Russian found some form early in the second set to take a 4-1 lead but Konta kept her nerve and quickly re-established control, winning five games in a row to complete the victory.

"I came out playing at a higher level than she did but she was able to pull herself back into that match," Konta said. "I didn't feel I did too much wrong but she started playing some incredible tennis. I just kept on trusting in myself."

Williams was in patchy form in her 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova, dropping her serve four times, but the 35-year-old American has yet to lose a set here this year. …

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