Britain's Johanna Konta (R) and China's Zhang Shuai embrace at the net after Konta won their quarter-final match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 27, 2016.(Reuters Photo)
Britain's Johanna Konta (R) and China's Zhang Shuai embrace at the net after Konta won their quarter-final match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 27, 2016.(Reuters Photo)

Australian Open: Konta becomes 1st Brit woman in a Major semi in 33 yrs

Australian-born Briton Johanna Konta overcame the challenge of Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open on Wednesday to become the first British woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam in 33 years.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Melbourne
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2016 10:04 AM IST

Australian-born Briton Johanna Konta overcame the challenge of Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-1 at the Australian Open on Wednesday to become the first British woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since 1983.

The Sydney-born Konta, who came through a draining three-setter in the fourth round, recovered to oust Zhang and set up a last-four clash against German seventh seed Angelique Kerber.

Kerber stunned two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 in the match preceding Konta’s on Rod Laver Arena.

The 24-year-old Konta, who has blossomed in the last year, had never been beyond the fourth round at a Slam before but she now equals fellow Brits Virginia Wade (1972, en route to the title) and Sue Barker (1975 and 1977) in making the Melbourne semis.

In her Australian Open debut, she also became the first British woman to reach a semi-final at any of the Grand Slam tournaments since since Jo Durie at the US Open in 1983.

“She didn’t make it easy,” an ecstatic Konta said of Zhang. “I’m happy. I was able to fight every single point.

“I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed playing in front of the big crowd.

“I didn’t put anything on this match, I just wanted to come out and play the best level that I could, and give the best entertainment I could.”

This time last year Konta was ranked 147 and fell in qualifying for Melbourne Park, but she has since risen 100 places, crediting her transformation with a new mental attitude.

She stunned eighth seed Venus Williams in the opening round and has stayed on a roll ever since, having more finesse and power than Zhang.

The Chinese star, who had lost all 14 of her previous Grand Slam matches before this year’s tournament, was responsible for the demise of second seed Simona Halep and injured 15th seed Madison Keys. But the 27-year-old was always playing catch-up to Konta.

Spent force

A pair of comfortable service holds got the match underway as the two women, who had met each other twice before, sharing the spoils, probed for weaknesses.

Konta soon put Zhang under scrutiny, claiming an early break with a bullet backhand to impose her authority.

She consolidated her lead with an ace, a smashed winner and a delicate looping lob to go 3-1 in front as Zhang scrambled around the court looking for answers.

The Chinese star, ranked 133 and who nearly retired last year, disillusioned with her form, did not trouble the Konta serve until the eighth game, as the Briton served for the set.

Konta gave herself three set points but failed to win any of them, missing routine winners as the pressure told, before sending down a double fault that gifted Zhang her first break to stay in touch at 3-5.

Sensing a way back, Zhang held her serve, emphatically with a volley, then created a break point as Konta again served for the set. But the Briton fended it off and finally took the lead on her sixth set point with a big serve.

The second set opened with a break apiece before Konta latched onto another unforced error from Zhang to go a break up, before holding serve to race 3-1 in front.

Zhang, once ranked 30 in the world, looked a spent force and was broken again in the fifth game. She fended off two match points on her serve but a double fault gave Konta a third chance, and this time the Briton made no mistake.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)

Sania Mirza says Tokyo Olympics medal dream motivated her return

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 03:30 PM IST
Mirza, paired with Slovenian Andreja Klepac, reached the semi-finals in the women's doubles at the Qatar Open on Wednesday, her first tournament since Feb. 2020 when she played at the same Doha event.
Close
Britain's Andy Murray.(REUTERS)
Britain's Andy Murray.(REUTERS)

Murray sees silver lining in Rotterdam exit

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 01:23 PM IST
The 33-year-old Briton, who is currently ranked 123rd after sliding down the rankings due to two hip operations, was pleased that he had gone toe-to-toe with world number eight Rublev.
Close
A tennis racket and new tennis ball on a freshly painted tennis court(HT Archive)
A tennis racket and new tennis ball on a freshly painted tennis court(HT Archive)

Men's tennis tour tweaks rankings, prize money amid pandemic

PTI, London
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 09:28 PM IST
The ATP's announcement Wednesday also said some players will be allowed to bring more than two team members to tournaments on a first-come, first-served basis, easing a restriction put in place last year because of COVID-19.
Close
Sania and Andreja(Twitter)
Sania and Andreja(Twitter)

Sania-Andreja pair enter semifinals of Qatar Open

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 08:50 PM IST
Sania and Andreja made short work of fourth seeds Anna Blinkova and Gabriela Dabrowski 6-2 6-0 to reach the last four round.
Close
Russia's Daniil Medvedev(AP)
Russia's Daniil Medvedev(AP)

Medvedev, Zverev eliminated in 1st round in Rotterdam

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 08:43 PM IST
Medvedev had 25 unforced errors against Lajovic's 12, along with eight double faults, and he broke his racket in frustration. The third-ranked Russian last played Feb. 21 in his straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.
Close
United States' Frances Tiafoe (AP)
United States' Frances Tiafoe (AP)

Tiafoe tremendous in Buenos Aires opener

PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 03:59 PM IST
This was Tiafoe's first tour-level win on clay since the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, where he made the third round. The 23-year-old faced a tough opponent in Bagnis, who advanced to the semi-finals at last week's Cordoba Open.
Close
Rohan Bopanna (R) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi last played together in September 2014. (Getty Images)
Rohan Bopanna (R) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi last played together in September 2014. (Getty Images)

The Indo-Pak Express is running again

By Rutvick Mehta, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 01:06 PM IST
  • Bopanna and Qureshi will renew their highly fruitful partnership - labelled popularly as the “Indo-Pak Express” - for the first time since 2014, signing up to play the ATP 500 Acapulco event beginning from March 15.
Close
Tennis - Davis Cup Qualifiers - Croatia v India - Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb, Croatia - March 7, 2020. India's Rohan Bopanna reacts. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo(REUTERS)
Tennis - Davis Cup Qualifiers - Croatia v India - Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb, Croatia - March 7, 2020. India's Rohan Bopanna reacts. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo(REUTERS)

'Indo-Pak Express' to be back on Tour, albeit for just Mexico event as of now

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 08:33 PM IST
It will be first time that Bopanna and Aisam, known as 'Indo-Pak Express' will play together since they last competed at the ATP 250 event in Shenzen in 2014.
Close
India's Sania Mirza. File(Getty Images)
India's Sania Mirza. File(Getty Images)

Sania Mirza returns to WTA circuit with win in Doha with Klepac

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 11:15 PM IST
The Indo-Slovenian pair won 6-4 6-7(5) 10-5 against Nadiia Kichenok and Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine in the opening round of the WTA 500 tournament.
Close
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka: File photo(REUTERS)
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka: File photo(REUTERS)

After Melbourne loss, Sabalenka vows to be ready for Serena

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 08:48 PM IST
Sabalenka did not drop a set in her first three rounds before going down in three against the 39-year-old American in the fourth last month.
Close
Foreign players pose after their qualifying round matches in Lucknow. HT Photo
Foreign players pose after their qualifying round matches in Lucknow. HT Photo

Saketh Myneni gets top billing for ITF Lucknow event

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 08:33 PM IST
The 33-year-old Myneni, who won a gold medal in mixed doubles and silver in men’s doubles at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, will start his campaign against qualifier and compatriot Ishaque Eqbal.
Close
File photo ofSwitzerland's Roger Federer.(AP)
File photo ofSwitzerland's Roger Federer.(AP)

Djokovic ties Federer's record for most weeks as world No.1

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:42 PM IST
Djokovic's ninth Australian Open title last month guaranteed that he would surpass Federer's record on March 8.
Close
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)

Brady loses in 1st match since Australian Open in Doha

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:04 PM IST
Brady, who lost to Naomi Osaka in her first major final just over a week ago, made 25 unforced errors against her Estonian opponent.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)

Swiatek builds mental strength with Lego

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:53 PM IST
The 19-year-old Pole last year became the youngest woman to win the Roland Garros title since Monica Seles in 1992 and on Saturday picked up the second trophy of her career at the Adelaide International.
Close
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)

Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:34 PM IST
The 19-year-old qualifier beat Spain's world number 47 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 2-6 6-2 in the final of the claycourt tournament.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP