In the only quarter-final featuring both top eight seeds, the number two seed, Simona Halep and the number six seed, Johanna Konta will play each other in a blockbuster last eight showdown. The pair have played twice already this year, splitting matches in Miami and Romania for Fed Cup action. This is a monumental match-up for both players with so much on the line…
Konta d. Garcia, 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4 (R4)
Surviving another tense three set battle, Konta advanced to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. She is the first Brit to reach this stage of the tournament since Jo Durie in 1984. Konta failed to serve out the first set at *5-4 including missing one set point, but recovered to win the tiebreak, seven points to three. Konta’s first serve percentage dropped in the second set as Garcia improved – the Frenchwoman struggled to close out the second set, eventually taking advantage of her double break cushion to level up at one set all.
The decider was a serve-dominated affair with Konta dropping just five points on serve and landing 76% of first serves in. Garcia’s stats were equally good but at 30-30, she did unfortunately blink. Two errant groundstrokes from *4-5 *30-30 including a missed forehand into the net on match point saw Konta seal a famous win. It was interesting to see Konta’s emotion at the end of the match. This was clearly a big, big win for her and she’s handled the pressure and expectation so well up till now. It’s only going to increase as we move into the latter stages of the tournament.
Halep d. Azarenka, 7-6(3) 6-2 (R4)
Halep is into her third Wimbledon quarter-final in the last four years with an impressive win over Victoria Azarenka. Halep played a clutch first set, overcoming a slow start, before rolling through most of the second set and fending off a late Azarenka comeback. Azarenka made the much brighter start to the match, taking control of rallies and twice going up an early break. Twice she was unable to consolidate as Halep broke straight back. The Romanian player was twice, two points away from losing the set at *4-5 *30-30 and *5-6 *30-30. Into a first set tiebreak and Azarenka’s game rather unravelled from there with a couple of wild shots both wings and then barely missing a return to go down 1-5. Halep crafted a gorgeous cross-court backhand to earn four set points, taking it on her second.
Halpe continued to build confidence and momentum in the second set as Azarenka’s unforced error count began to escalate at a rather alarming rate. Halep sealed the double break in a four deuce game to lead *4-0. She did encounter some late resistance as an aggressive, Azarenka went after her shots. Halep was clearly frustrated as she missed a match point serving for it at *5-1. She backed herself in the next game to break for the win. Not a classic, but a very intriguing first set. Azarenka’s lack of matches was evident, while Halep continues to showcase herself as one of the most consistent WTA players on the tour when fully fit and healthy.
Head-to-head record: The pair are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head. In 2017 clashes, Konta won in Miami, 3-6 7-6(7) 6-2 and Halep won in Fed Cup action on clay, 6-1 6-3. The Miami clash was a very intriguing match – Halep played the better tennis for much of the first two sets, but was unable to serve it out with a battling Konta getting the win in three sets. The match featured the now infamous changeover chat with her coach, Darren Cahill. Halep later revealed that Cahill stopped working with her for a time after that match.
Final thoughts: This is a huge match for both players with Konta going for a first Wimbledon semi-final with home support and the world number one spot on the line for Halep. Konta needs to serve well and use the serve as the starting point in rallies as Halep will be very, very tough to break down. For the Romanian player, this match-up will always bring back memories of the match in Miami. I’ve been impressed this year with how Halep has handled setbacks and managed to use these to her advantage going forward.
This is a tricky one to call as it’s going to be an emotionally-charged atmosphere that could swing the result one way or another. I’m sticking with Halep, who I had a good feeling about pre-tournament having watched and listened to her in Eastbourne. She has continued to improve match-by-match and shown her versatility in adapting her game for the grass.