CINCINNATI, OH, USA - No.7 seed Johanna Konta is through to the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals for the first time after battling past Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
Coming into their round of 16 clash, Konta and Cibulkova each owned a win in the pair’s previous head-to-head record of 1-1, but neither had made an appearance into the Cincinnati quarterfinals.
After a nearly two-hour rain delay halted play during their warm-up, the pair came out swinging but it was Konta who was able to get ahead first. The swirling winds wreaked havoc on Cibulkova’s high ball toss, and Konta took advantage to emerge with the edge after three straight breaks of serve.
"I think it was a battle, like you said. She's notorious being an incredible fighter. I knew going into the match that it was not going to be over until we shook hands," the Brit said. "I was very aware that I needed to stay calm and really just try to compete, separate each point and compete well in each one. The conditions are quite tough out there. It was very humid. Both of us, I think, sweated our body weight twice over.
"I'm very happy to have come through, and I'm looking forward to getting to play another match here."
Against Konta’s aggressive attacking on the returns, Cibulkova struggled to hold serve - doing so once in the opening set - and the Brit was outhitting her from the baseline to take the opening set.
Konta had a battle on her hands in the second as Cibulkova seemed to find her rhythm, trading breaks and finally hanging on to her service games regularly to keep her opponent under pressure. After trading breaks early, both players put up a solid defense and dodged a combined four break points to stay on serve.
But it was Cibulkova who blinked first, her first serve woes rearing their head again late in the set, and Konta calmly served out the match after an hour and 42 minutes.
The victory sets up a clash with the No.2 seed Simona Halep, who defeated No.15 seed Anastasija Sevastova earlier in the day. Konta defeated Halep in both of their WTA meetings this year, in the quarterfinals in Miami en route to winning the title, and in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon - denying the Romanian the No.1 ranking.
"I played her a few times this year already, and every single time it's been a battle. I've won; she's won. So I know going into the match that it's going to be a battle," Konta said. "I definitely need to play the match on its own, not past matches that we have played, and definitely just look to compete the best that I can on the day and just really try to fight my way through. I think both of us compete very well. So I think both of us are looking to really not give each other a foothold in the match.
"She's an incredible mover, and she makes an incredible amount of balls. You definitely do feel like you're playing a little bit like against a wall when you play Simona. I guess I always just look to try to bring my game to the table, just try to dictate as much as I can, and really take control of the points as much as possible, but also having a massive level of acceptance that she's going to make me hit a lot of balls and it's not always going to go my way."