Wimbledon: Johanna Konta favourite for title ahead of round three clash with Maria Sakkari
Johanna Konta has shown she has the nerve not only to win Wimbledon but to become world number one, according to three-time grand slam champion Lindsay Davenport.
Konta, who was been installed as bookie’s favourite to take the Wimbledon title, edged a three-hour marathon and an 18-game final set on Wednesday to beat Donna Vekic 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 10-8, in what was arguably the match of the tournament so far.
Eastbourne’s Konta will face Greek Maria Sakkari on Thursday for a place in the last 16, and the draw has opened up for the Briton after Petra Kvitova’s surprise second-round defeat.
If she beats Sakkari, Konta could face Caroline Garcia, the 21st seed, before a possible quarter-final showdown with the resurgent Victoria Azarenka or French Open finalist Simona Halep.
It is the first time the British number one has reached round three at the All England Club but many have her down as a potential champion following her climb to number seven in the world.
Key to her rise has been the new-found resilience that was on display against Vekic, as Konta saved two set points before winning the opening set and repeatedly staved off threats of a break in the decider.
Davenport reached the top of the world rankings in 1998 and won Wimbledon a year later, and the American believes the same double is achievable for 26-year-old Konta.
“I absolutely do think she can get to world number one and I think yesterday’s match was a great example of why,” said Davenport, now an ambassador for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
“You look at a player like Konta, she is checking off all the boxes of what she needs to do to get there.
“I get the sense with her, like when you watch Andy Murray, that everything she can do to get better she is doing. That can be mentally, physically, recovery, on the court.
“It’s hard not to see success for someone who is willing to put that much effort and time into their career at that age.”
Davenport believes Konta has proven she has the steel to beat anyone.
“To see her just be a mental rock out there under some really difficult circumstances was in a way inspiring,” Davenport said.
“We’ve seen her on the court crumble more emotionally than anything else, but on the biggest court, with the whole stadium packed for her, she stood up time and time again.
“At love-30 down she never panicked, she never blinked, she never had that look I’ve seen before where she’s looking with those scared eyes. That was gone.
“You get the sense that’s something she’s worked incredibly hard on, the discipline of staying in each point and her routine. It proved itself in one of her biggest moments here.”
Neither Vekic nor Konta conceded a single break point until 6-6 in the nerve-shredding final set, which lasted an hour and 19 minutes. Vekic was in tears when they embraced at the net.
“That was one of the best matches I’ve seen, honestly, in women’s tennis,” Davenport said.
“I loved that final set, one break in all those games, and they earned their serve. I loved it.”