PARIS, France - British No.1 Johanna Konta is back in the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, battling past No.23 seed Donna Vekic, 6-2, 6-4 at the French Open.
"The thing with Donna is until we shook hands, I thought there was always going to be an opportunity or a chance that she was going to raise her level or do something or even for me to drop," she said in her post-match press conference. "It's never a guarantee to play well throughout the whole match."
Seeded No.26 in Paris, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia runner-up continued her momentum from a resurgent clay court swing to become the first British woman into the quarterfinals since Jo Durie in 1983, dispatching her rival after one hour and 25 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
"It was a good match. I mean, I thought I had very, very few drops in my level, which I think definitely kept the pressure on her and in trying to find a solution."
Both women were aiming for a maiden Roland Garros quarterfinal appearance, and each had scored three previous wins over the other. While Konta had been winless on the terre battue before this year's event, Vekic reached the third round back in 2015, had won her last two matches over the former World No.4 - including a two-set win at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in February.
Nonetheless, it was Konta who emerged the stronger following an early exchange of breaks, racing out to a 5-2, double break advantage. The Brit saved a whopping four break points serving for the opening set, ultimately claiming it on her first opportunity.
"I thought I played the game well. I think I was able to identify where I was getting points and what was kind of making her feel uncomfortable on court or even I thought I played into the open spaces quite well. I thought I was able to find opportunities to do that."
The second set followed on more even footing as the pair traded service holds through the first six games, each looking for the opening to be aggressive from the back of the court.
History Book Bound 📕@JohannaKonta becomes the first British woman to reach the Roland-Garros quarter-finals since 1983 with her 6-2 6-4 win over Donna Vekic.
🎾 https://t.co/vKfBxnrBzf #RG19 pic.twitter.com/PqyhH3NNyk
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2019
It was the 2016 Australian Open semifinalist that struck first, breaking serve and holding two points for a 5-3 lead only for Vekic to surge forward and level the set.
"At 4-3 there was very little in it for it to go 5-3, as well, so it could have been easily a momentum shift for her, as well. I thought I did a good job in just contained play. Overall, just pleased to have come through that and, yeah, just very pleased with the level I played."
Undaunted, Konta took a quick 0-40 lead and soon found herself serving for the match. She held serve to love as she forced one last error from the Croat's racquet.
Standing between Konta and a third Grand Slam semifinal - which would also put her one away from a box set of final four appearances - will be the winner of the blockbuster fourth round clash between 2016 French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza and last year's finalist, Sloane Stephens.
"Whoever I'm playing I'm looking forward to it. It will be a great opportunity for me to play against one of the best players in the world. Both of them are Grand Slam champions, Garbiñe being a two-time Grand Slam champion. It's a great position for me to be in."
Muguruza won their most recent meeting at this year's Australian Open, while Konta has twice beaten Stephens in 2019, most recently on clay en route to the finals in Rome.
"I have only been at this stage a handful of times. So to be back here, I'm definitely very pleased. This is not my end goal or anything. I would love to be here till the very end, but I'm also really doing my best at really enjoying the different matches I get to play and the different accomplishments that I get to experience."