MONTERREY, Mexico -- No.2 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain booked a quarterfinal spot at the Abierto GNP Seguros for the second time in her career, eking out a tight first set before easing past Tatjana Maria of Germany, 7-6(4), 6-3.
"It was an incredibly tough match," Konta said, after her win. "[Maria] is very crafty, and very creative on the court, and quite frankly made me uncomfortable today. She plays a game that is very tough to get rhythm against."
"I’m really pleased I was able to try to play the game, find a way, and basically be able to work my way through that match," Konta added.
In the first meeting between the two players, World No.16 Konta needed well over an hour to claim the opening set, but finished off the victory in an hour and 47 minutes total to make it into the last eight at Monterrey, matching her 2016 showing.
The British No.1, who defeated returning WTA legend Kim Clijsters in the opening round, saved both of the break points she faced during the match.
World No.91 Maria fought valiantly, firing 11 aces, as well as staving off the first 11 break points she faced in the clash, before Konta converted her 12th chance to take the decisive lead in the second set.
Konta will now face Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova in the quarterfinals. Potapova pulled off a come-from-behind three-set win over Tamara Zidansek earlier on Thursday to reach her third WTA quarterfinal of the season.
"[Potapova is] very young, very talented, she’s playing better and better as the season’s going," Konta stated. "She’s young, so she’s obviously going to be playing very fearless, and really I’m sure inspired and motivated. That’s also exciting for me to play."
Maria faced break points throughout the opening set, fending off six in her first three service games, including four alone just to hold for 3-2. Two more came at 3-3, but the German erased those with a volley winner and an ace -- two shots that served her well on big points in the opener -- and she stayed ahead 4-3.
Konta played aggressively to grasp her chances, and held double break point once again at 4-4, after a backhand winner in the forecourt. But Maria once again used her serve-and-volley sturdiness to wriggle out of danger, and she held for 5-4, putting the Brit at 0-for-10 on break points for the set.
Naturally, the duo settled the set with a tiebreak, where a 4-2 lead by Konta was pulled level at 4-4 by the gritty German. However, a powerful reflex return by Konta on that point flummoxed Maria, who fired her reply into the net, giving the Brit a 5-4 lead. Konta would not cede that chance, and held her two service points with power hitting, clinching a hard-earned one-set lead.
Maria was initially undaunted by the loss of the first set, fending off an 11th break point before holding for 2-2 in the following set. By this juncture, though, Konta’s volleys were mostly on point as well, and the Brit used two of those shots to punch her way to 3-2.
In the very next game, Konta fired a winning backhand volley to earn her 12th break point of the tilt, and, finally, the No.2 seed was able to convert one, after a Maria forehand found the net. Konta took her 4-2 lead and consolidated it with vigor, holding at love for 5-2.
Serving for victory at 5-3, Konta saw her first two match points slip away due to errors, and after a third straight miscue, Maria suddenly held just her second break point of the day. However, the German found the net with an error to squander that chance, and at deuce, another winning volley by Konta queued up a third match point.
That would in fact be the charm, as a fierce Konta forehand forced an error from her opponent, closing out a hard-fought win for the second seed.