British world No.47 Johanna Konta made her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinals with a close 4-6 6-4 8-6 victory over seed No.21 Ekaterina Makarova on Monday in Melbourne, the win also being the first Australian Open quarterfinal of a British WTA player since 1983. In the final eight Konta will face Zhang Shuai, a qualifier who has unbelievably continued her Australian Open fairytale, albeit today greatly helped by Madison Keys‘ leg injury.
After losing the first set to favorite Makarova 4-6, who boasts six Grand Slam quarterfinals or better in her biography, the unseeded Konta answered by taking the second set with the same score. In the decider, although the Brit wobbled when serving for the match at 5-4, she held her nerve and used her second chance to close out the encounter in three hours and four minutes on Margaret Court Arena 4-6 6-4 8-6.
The 24-year-old Konta said after the match: “Mentally and physically I left it all out there.” Her plan now is “to eat and sleep, eat and sleep and repeat.”
World No.133 Zhang Shuai, who had never before won a Grand Slam match in the main draw, and she’s been a pro since 2003, upset Madison Keys in the fourth round 3-6 6-3 6-3. Playing through the big pain of her leg injury, Keys showed great determination and courage, but it was impossible to get control over it and Zhang used the opportunity of her unfit opponent to make the quarterfinals.
Unbelievably, Zhang really is not stopping! She’s so confident now that she’s even composed during her on-court interviews after matches and when the other day a journalist asked her whether she could go all the way to the title, the Chinese said: “Before, no. But today maybe yes.”