Brave Konta’s American dream shattered by rival Svitolina

Johanna Konta returns a shot to Elina Svitolina during her defeat in the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Johanna Konta returns a shot to Elina Svitolina during her defeat in the quarter-finals of the US Open.
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Johanna Konta’s bid for US Open glory was ended in the quarter-finals by Elina Svitolina.

Konta was attempting to become the first British woman to reach the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows since Jo Durie in 1983.

But she fell short against a familiar foe, fifth seed Svitolina extending her 100 per cent record against Konta to five matches, 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes.

Konta has been streets ahead of the rest of the field with the amount of winners she has hit this tournament, and she had another 24 here.

But that was offset by an unforced error count of 35, compared to just 13 from the metronomic Svitolina.

The Ukrainian made the first breakthrough in a hard-fought fifth game, Konta eventually succumbing with a backhand into the net.

Konta, with actor Tom Hiddleston watching from her box again, broke straight back. But she then promptly gave away break point with a misguided drop shot and Svitolina pounced again, arrowing a backhand into the corner.

Back came Konta with another break point, but it was repelled with an ace as Svitolina clinched the opening set.

Another unforced error handed Svitolina a break for 3-2 in the second as a Konta forehand drifted wide.

Konta immediately hit back for 3-3, a stunning drop shot flopping over the net just out of Svitolina’s reach, only to then find herself at 0-40, and when a volley fell short she was passed and broken once more.

Konta faced two match points on her own serve, and gamely saved both to force the ball back into Svitolina’s hand.

But Svitolina converted number three to make it back-to-back major semi-final appearances for her, having also reached the last four at Wimbledon.

The 24-year-old said: “I think we were both striking the ball well, it was quite even, I’m just very happy with the way I handled the pressure. I was just taking one point at a time and trying to stay calm.

“For all the Ukrainians it is not so easy when you are growing up, you don’t have much opportunity to travel and that’s why we are so determined when we get them.”

For her part, Konta insists she is capable of winning a grand slam title as long as she keeps giving herself the chance.

The British number one has enjoyed a fine season in the majors, with a semi-final at the French Open followed by a quarter-final at Wimbledon, and culminating in a first appearance in the last eight at the US Open, before falling to Svitolina.

“I do feel that was the probably the best I felt her play against me. She played so well, to be honest,” said Konta.

“Actually, I didn’t play badly at all. I actually felt like I was doing a lot of good things out there, a lot of the right things.

“She just made me play that extra ball. It’s frustrating. You know, I would have loved to have come through that and come through a challenge like her, but I guess it will just have to be next time.

“I definitely think it’s just the more opportunities I give myself like this, the more chances I have of going a step further and even more steps further.

“I don’t have any regrets or any hindsight in what I did before or during the match. I think I did a lot of good things.

“I think I can definitely still get better and better, especially against an opponent like her. I can take a lot of good things from this still,” said Konta before heading to Broadway to watch Hiddleston in ‘Betrayal’.