LONDON, Great Britain -- The Centre Court crowd on Manic Monday at Wimbledon thrilled to a big win by the last British player standing in either singles draw, as No.19 seed Johanna Konta hoisted home hopes with a fourth-round upset of two-time champion and No.6 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Konta called the spectators "magnificent" in her post-match press conference. "I think as a British player playing in front of a home crowd or any player to play in front of a home crowd, you're always going to be spoilt for support, spoilt for just energy that they give you.
"Equally today, I'm really pleased that I got to play an entertaining match for them, as well, because I felt they enjoyed the match. That obviously definitely feeds a lot of excitement on court. I enjoy that position to be in. I'm really enjoying playing in front of a home crowd."
Coming into the encounter, Kvitova led their head-to-head 3-1, but the duo had split their two meetings on grass, and it was Konta who knocked off the Czech on the slick surface once more after two hours and 24 minutes of hard-hitting tennis.
"Overall I'm just pleased that I competed well," said Konta. "Towards the end I thought I had good perspective because [Kvitova] started playing very freely. I mean, the balls were coming through quick. Just happy I was able to keep a good perspective and just enjoy competing against her, because she's very tough to play on this surface. I'm really pleased with that."
Konta, a semifinalist on home soil at Wimbledon in 2017, earned back-to-back wins over Top 10 players for the first time in her career, having also defeated No.9 seed Sloane Stephens in another come-from-behind victory in the third round last week.
"Obviously the experience that I had in 2017 was a magnificent one, it was something that is incredibly special to me," Konta stated. "Equally how I'm doing so far, I'm just really pleased with the level I'm playing, how I'm competing, how I'm really just trying to find a way in each match that I play. I'm playing very tough matches against very tough opponents."
In a closely contested affair, it was Konta who clinched the big points more frequently than Kvitova: the Brit was 4-for-9 on break points in the match, while Kvitova could only convert two of her ten chances to break.
Konta will have to defeat another Czech if she wants to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for a second time: unseeded Barbora Strycova. Grass-court maven Strycova reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for a second time in her career after a comeback win over No.21 seed Elise Mertens earlier on Monday.
"[Strycova is] a very crafty player, she knows how to mix up the game," said Konta, who lost her only prior match with Strycova, on hardcourt at Tokyo in 2017. "She knows how to play on this surface. I mean, like me, she's won four matches, too, to get here, as well. I'm just looking forward to playing another great player. Nice to be in the quarterfinals of a Slam again."
Power play was the order of the day, and the combatants fired big shots at each other as they each held their first four service games apiece, without any break points through 4-4 in the opening set.
In that game, Konta was the first to get a true look in on her opponent’s serve, as unforced errors flew from the racquet of Kvitova to give the Brit two break points. But Kvitova’s power, bolstered by her thunderous left-handed serve, pulled her through the tight game and a hold for 5-4.
Spurred on after avoiding that close call, Kvitova moved to her own opportunity in the next game. At 30-30, a big backhand by the Czech forced a long error by Konta to queue up a first set point. There, Kvitova slammed a sterling service return, leading to a wide forehand by Konta, and the two-time Wimbledon winner had snatched the opener.
But Konta rebounded with aplomb, using strong forehands to break Kvitova in the opening game of the second set, and consolidated for 2-0 after a marathon, seven-deuce game, saving two break points in the process. Konta continued to cruise through the second stanza, attaining another break of the vaunted Kvitova serve en route to 4-0.
At 5-2, Konta took a medical time-out to have her ankle taped, but the British No.1 had no trouble closing out the set in the following game, firing an ace to hold serve and level the match against the No.6 seed.
The Brit continued to hold control of the match as she used terrific service returns and cunning crosscourt groundstrokes to break Kvitova twice early in the decider and pick up a 4-1 lead. Konta then resisted two break points to hold for 5-1, putting her on the precipice of another Top 10 victory in the event.
Konta had to fend off three more break points before garnering two match points at 5-2, but those too went begging, and Kvitova used a deep backhand to earn a fourth break point in that game. Kvitova, who had been 0-for-6 on break points in the third set up to that juncture, finally converted one after a Konta backhand miscue, and the match continued.
However, Konta served for the match once more at 5-4, and this time, she would not be denied. A netted backhand by Kvitova gave Konta two more match points, and the British No.1 needed just one, after one final long forehand by Kvitova sent Konta sailing back into the quarterfinals of her home Grand Slam event.