Johanna Konta: Not so average Jo becomes only second Brit to reach last 16 of the US Open

Konta beat Andrea Petkovic 7-6 6-3

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The Independent Online

Johanna Konta became only the second British woman in 24 years to reach the last 16 of the US Open as her remarkable run continued here. Konta’s 7-6 6-3 win over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, the world No 18, was her 16th victory in succession and took the 24-year-old into a fourth-round meeting tomorrow with Petra Kvitova, the two-times Wimbledon champion.

Konta, who had to win three matches in qualifying just to reach the main draw, again competed with an assurance and calmness that defied both her current world ranking at No 97 and her previous reputation as a player who suffered with nerves.

Although the conditions were more comfortable than they had been in previous days, Petkovic (below) struggled with the heat in the second set, during which she took a medical time-out. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old German still made Konta work for her victory. Petkovic broke when the Briton served for the match at 5-1 and saved five match points before she closed out victory after nearly two hours.

“It was definitely tough because even if she is not feeling at her best she is still one of the best competitors on the tour,” Konta said afterwards. “She definitely didn’t give it to me in the end as you could tell from the last three games.”

Konta, who beat the Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza in the previous round, had won only one match in her seven previous appearances in Grand Slam tournaments until she arrived here on the back of a summer campaign which had seen her win two titles on the lower-tier International Tennis Federation circuit. She has not been beaten since she lost to Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon.

After this victory Konta is expected to move into the world’s top 60 at the end of the tournament, when she and will be just 17 ranking points behind Heather Watson, the British No 1. By reaching the fourth round Konta has guaranteed herself prize money of $213,575 (about £141,000), which is easily the biggest pay cheque of her career.

Konta is the first British woman to reach the last 16 here since Laura Robson three years ago. Jo Durie, in 1991, was the last to do so before Robson. Konta is also the first British woman qualifier to reach the fourth round here. The last player other than Konta or Robson to reach the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament was Sam Smith, who made the last 16 at Wimbledon in 1998.

With the humidity having dropped significantly and the temperature down to a more bearable 24C, the conditions in Louis Armstrong Stadium were appreciably easier than they had been 48 hours earlier, when Konta beat Muguruza in the longest women’s match here for 45 years at three hours and 23 minutes.

Petkovic did not appear to be in any physical difficulty during a first set which swung one way and then the other. There were six breaks of serve, but on each occasion that one player went ahead the other broke back immediately.

Konta went 2-0 down in the tie-break, put herself back in contention with a backhand cross-court winner and then watched Petkovic implode. The German made six errors in a row as Konta took the tie-break 7-2.

It was only early in the second set that Petkovic showed any signs of feeling unwell. Trailing 3-0, she took a medical time-out and was treated by a trainer and doctor. The German had her blood pressure checked, was cooled down with ice and took some pills. She said later that she had been suffering with a head cold.

At 5-1 down Petkovic broke back, saving three match points in a marathon 11-minute game. At 5-3 down the German saved two more match points before a missed forehand gave Konta victory.

Kvitova reached the fourth round for the first time since 2012 when she beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2 6-1. The two-times Wimbledon champion has had a difficult season, having been diagnosed with glandular fever earlier in the year, but has looked in better shape here with three successive straight-sets victories.

Rafael Nadal’s defeat at the hands of Fabio Fognini saw the Spaniard finish a season without a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2004. Fognini, who hit 70 winners to Nadal’s 30 after going on all-out attack in the latter stages, won 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 after three hours and 46 minutes, the match finishing at 1.26am yesterday. It was the first time Nadal has lost a Grand Slam match after winning the first two sets.

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