Tennis

Konta earns dream meeting with Serena

Johanna Konta earned the chance to fulfil a childhood dream when she advanced to an Australian Open quarter-final contest against Serena Williams by dismantling Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 yesterday.

The 25-year-old, Britain's last hope of a singles title after Andy Murray and Dan Evans were knocked out on Sunday, took 69 minutes to send her Russian rival packing in temperatures nearing 35 deg C.

It secured the ninth seed a first meeting with 22-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who defeated Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-4 yesterday.

INSPIRATION

Williams won the first of her six Melbourne Park titles when Konta was an 11-year-old growing up in the Sydney suburbs.

"She's one of the players still playing who I looked up to as a young girl wanting to be a professional tennis player," said Konta.

"It's an incredible honour and I will cherish every moment out there."

It was with her run to the semi-finals as world No. 47 at Melbourne Park last year that Konta first served notice that she had the game to take on the best in the world.

Extensive work with a sports psychologist had helped Konta rid her game of the mental collapses in big moments that marred the early years of 
her career.

Yesterday, she explained how she was now able to cope.

"When you get to a position where you might see a glimmer of what you have dreamed of as a little girl or what you hoped for, what you've worked so hard for, it can feel kind of an all-or-nothing moment or, 'What if I never get this chance again?'" she said. - REUTERS

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