RABAT, Morocco - No.7 seed Johanna Konta is through to her career first clay court semifinal at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem after coming back from a set down against the tricky Hsieh Su-Wei.
It’s been Konta’s third three-setter in as many matches during a hardfought week in Rabat, where the Brit has been forced to come back from a set down twice - even saving match points in her first round battle against Wang Yafan.
After dropping the opening set to Hsieh, Konta rallied to win 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-4 after two hours and 13 minutes, raining down 48 winners and two aces along the way.
Hsieh, the No.2 seed, got off to a strong start against Konta, quickly proving why she’s been one of the most dangerous players in 2019. She’s reached semifinals in Auckland and Doha, and has recorded three Top 10 wins - taking down World No.1 Naomi Oska, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber.
She looked keen to collect another scalp on Thursday when she grabbed an early break, consolidating to build up a 3-0 lead against Konta. The Brit fought back against Hsieh’s tricky slices and changes in rhythm, eventually breaking back to make it 4-3.
There was not much to separate the two as they stayed on course for a tiebreaker - and suddenly, it was Hsieh’s game. The player from Chinese Taipei reeled off six points in a row to go up 6-0 and allowed Konta just one point in the tiebreaker as she sealed the opening set with style.
After seeing the first set slip out of her grasp, Konta replied emphatically to put herself back in the contest. Both players were fully dialed in, playing their best tennis as the first seven games went comfortably to the server. At 5-3, Konta finally broke to love - but Hsieh responded in kind to make it 5-4. Finally the Brit took the set a game later, converting her fourth set point to send them into a deciding set.
Both players stayed on serve after trading breaks early on at 2-1, and the next four games in a row were all won by the server to love. Like in the previous set, it was Konta who found the opening at 5-3 to take the lead, but Hsieh broke straight back to get them back on serve. But the Brit continued to pile on the pressure, and finally a double fault handed Konta three match points, which she converted gladly to finish the match in another tough three sets.
Already contesting her maiden clay court quarterfinal, the victory sends Konta into the semifinals in Rabat for the first time - and finally brings her career tour-level main draw clay wins into the double digits, recording her 10th win today.
Up next, Konta will face the No.4 seed Ajla Tomljanovic in semifinals after she eased past Rebecca Peterson, 6-2, 6-4. It’ll be the pair’s third meeting of 2019, with Tomljanovic taking out Konta in two sets at Brisbane and Konta striking back in three at the Australian Open.
More to follow...