ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- French qualifier Oceane Dodin notched the biggest upset to date at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Wednesday, knocking out No.4 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.
"I’m just very happy with my game right now," Dodin told the press after her win. "I’m very happy to be here and to be in the quarterfinals, and we will see."
Dodin claimed the second Top 20 win of her career with her 87-minute victory over World No.14 Konta, improving to 2-9 against the Top 20. The 23-year-old has not dropped a set in her two main-draw wins and two qualifying wins during the event.
"The last [Top 20 win] was, I think, three years ago!" Dodin laughed, referring to her win over No.5 Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in 2017. "So, this is incredible."
Formerly a Top 50 player, Dodin has struggled with her health over the last two seasons while dealing with vertigo, and was ranked No.332 at this time last year. Now back up to World No.159, the Frenchwoman has earned consecutive Tour-level wins for the first time since a semifinal run at the Citi Open in Washington in 2017.
With a nearly equal amount of unforced errors by the combatants, Dodin soared to triumph by hitting 24 winners to Konta's 14. Dodin converted two of her four break points, while only facing two break points, both of which she staved off, in the very last game of the clash.
Dodin, still in the hunt for her second WTA singles title, will now face either No.8 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan or her fellow Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro in the elite eight. Dodin defeated Ferro in two tiebreak sets in the final round of qualifying earlier this week, but Ferro entered the main draw as a lucky loser.
"I don’t have any pressure right now," said Dodin, when asked about the rest of the tournament. "I’ll give it my best and we’ll see what happens."
With no break points held by either player through 4-3, it would be the Frenchwoman who got the initial look on her opponent’s service in that game, after Konta pushed a slice backhand into the net to give Dodin double break point. On her first chance, a huge return by Dodin set up a forehand approach winner, and the qualifier took a pivotal lead at 5-3.
That would prove to be the decisive moment in the opening frame, as powerful serving by Dodin quickly queued up triple set point in the following game. A backhand crosscourt winner by Konta saved one set point, but on the second, the Brit fired a backhand long to put Dodin one step closer to a substantial upset.
Dodin put the hammer down immediately in the second set, notching an early break over an error-prone Konta in the very first game. The qualifier was pushed to deuce for the first time in the match in the very next game, but she held on with a flourish, consolidating for 2-0 with an ace.
Once more, a single break would be all that Dodin would need to clinch a set, as the French player used her power game to blaze past any challenges. Huge serves and finishing groundstrokes helped Dodin hold for 5-3, putting her one game away from the win.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Dodin faced her greatest adversity all day, as her miscues allowed Konta to hold her first two break points. However, Dodin used a big serve to fend off the first and a series of beautiful backhands to repel the second, and the Frenchwoman was able to eventually grasp a sterling victory with a forehand winner on her second match point.
"It was very difficult for me to finish the game!" Dodin said, with a laugh. "I was thinking too much, I was like, ‘Oh my god, one game away!’
"I just kept focusing on my serve, and just go for it, and I’m very happy."