Konta overcomes Potapova in Monterrey marathon

Konta overcomes Potapova in Monterrey marathon
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MONTERREY, Mexico — No.2 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain pulled off a sterling comeback in the Abierto GNP Seguros quarterfinals on Friday, fighting back from 2-5 down in the final set and saving two match points to outlast Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(7).

“I think the scoreline is quite obvious, it was an incredibly tough match,” Konta said, after her win. “Very tough conditions out there, it was very windy, very blustery, so it made it extra difficult for both of us to play, really. But I think overall, both of us played at a great level, we played a very exciting match for everybody who was there watching.”

“Personally I’m really pleased I’ve been able to come through such a tough match,” Konta continued. “Especially, it was the first of its kind for me this season, and to be able to come through it, I’m really pleased with it.”

World No.16 Konta staved off one match point at 5-3 in the third set, and one more in the decisive final-set tiebreak, before eking past 18-year-old Potapova after two hours and forty minutes of play, and moving into her first semifinal since Roland Garros last spring.

“[Potapova] was playing very well, so she deserved to have those match points, and if she was going to win them with a great point, then she was going to win them,” Konta stated. “That takes nothing away from the quality of match I played.”

“I had no reason to doubt I couldn’t stay out there longer, and ask more questions, and maybe set up some more opportunities for myself,” Konta added. “That became the case and I’m quite pleased with that.”

British No.1 Konta, who missed the last few months of 2019 due to a knee injury, matched Potapova with eight aces and converted four of her 11 break points during her first meeting with the Russian.

World No.89 Potapova, who had made her third quarterfinal in her last three events, was more effective at winning points off of her first serve than Konta (71 percent to 67 percent) but was pipped at the wire by the Brit in the closely contested clash, and was denied the third Top 20 win of her career.

Konta will now face No.9 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Bouzkova moved past No.8 seed Wang Yafan of China, 6-2, 7-5, in their earlier quarterfinal.

Potapova started the match on fire, blasting a backhand winner to obtain a love service break for an early 2-0 lead. The Russian continued to use that wing with aplomb, forcing errors with great depth on that shot en route to 3-0.

Konta struck back, jumping to triple break point at 3-1, then forcing an error with a booming backhand return of her own to pull back on serve at 3-2. Two games later, the Brit had a chance to storm ahead, holding two more break points at 3-3, but Potapova fended those off with fierce forehands, then held on for 4-3 with an ace on game point.

Neither player was threatened on serve for the rest of the opening frame as they advanced to a decisive tiebreak. Konta slid to a 4-2 lead before Potapova used divine defense to level at 4-4. More deep, heavy hitting by Potapova helped her continue her run, and the Russian eventually reeled off four straight points to reach 6-4 and double set point.

Konta made a final charge, as an ace and a backhand winner erased Potapova’s first two set points. However, the Russian claimed a third chance, reaching 7-6 with a solidly struck serve. There, Potapova fired a beautiful backhand service return which forced an error from her opponent, clinching the hard-fought one-set lead.

In the second set, though, Konta struck first, blasting a backhand winner to break for 2-0. Potapova fired back right away, polishing off a love break with a backhand return winner down the line, but Konta reclaimed the lead in the very next game, finding the sideline with a return winner of her own to grasp a 3-1 advantage.

Potapova staved off break points in her next two service games, including a set point at 5-2, which she erased with a forehand winner down the line. Konta, though, was able to tie up the match without much fuss, converting her third set point at 5-3 with another winning forehand down the line.

Nevertheless, Potapova took the early lead in the deciding set, breaking for 3-1 as her backhand continued to hold up. The Russian retained her lead through 5-3, where she served for a match, and earned a match point with an ace. However, Konta finished off that point with a backhand winner down the line, and then used that same shot to break serve and extend the encounter.

Having escaped from that predicament, Konta used strong serving to easily stay with Potapova, and garnered a break point at 5-5. The Russian bravely erased that chance with a forehand winner, as the duo advanced to a tiebreak which would decide the victor.

In the breaker, Konta slid ahead 4-2 as Potapova’s backhand went awry on multiple occasions, and after a stellar serve-and-forehand combination, the Brit held a 5-2 lead. An overhead winner gave Konta her first two match points at 6-4, but Potapova’s brilliant backhand resurged at that juncture, and she used that side to fend off both chances and reach 6-6.

Potapova held a second match point at 7-6 after a missed return by Konta, but Konta fired two great serves to edge to 8-7 and her third match point. The No.2 seed completed her comeback victory at that moment, converting that opportunity after a Potapova backhand found the net, sending the Brit into the semifinals after a long, close battle.

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