It’s taken a while, but the wider UK is finally waking up to the fact that Johanna Konta is really quite good. The catalyst of that change was yesterday’s stunning quarter-final victory over second-seed Simona Halep, which finished 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
As every pundit and newspaper around the country has pointed out, the win means Konta is the first British woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final since Virginia Wade way back in 1978 (a year of Boney M’s “Rivers of Babylon”, Grease, Ipswich winning the FA Cup and Grange Hill).
The British No.1 headed into the tie as the firm underdog, with Halep just one step away from becoming the World No.1, and the early stages of the first set seemed to confirm that assumption. However, it was at 4-1 that Konta finally found her feet, breaking Halep with a handful of cracking returns to level the first set at 5-5. Despite the comeback, Halep held on to take the first set.
The second set followed a very similar pattern, but this time Konta snatched the set in the tiebreak (Halep was only two points away from victory at one point). With her confidence boosted, Konta maintained her excellent serve and sprayed unanswerable forehands down the line to dominate the third set. Cue rapturous celebrations from the Centre Court crowd (well, after a bizarre mid-point scream by a fan that meant the celebrations by the players were rather muted).
And they had every right to celebrate: with every victory, Konta is looking more like a *whisper it* champion in the making. Hopes are even further buoyed by the fact that she’s now the highest ranked player left in the ladies’ tournament, alongside Venus Williams (World No.11), Garbine Muguruza (15) and Magdalena Rybarikova (87).
That said, there’s still the small matter of a semi-final against five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams tomorrow. The match, which is scheduled to begin at 11.30am (better get those excuses in with the boss now), is likely to be a very gruelling affair, but our money is still on Konta to make the final – she has a brilliant victory under her belt and the importance of the home crowd can never be underestimated. C’mon Jo!