Johanna Konta was on a high. After Wimbledon, she won a string of ITF titles and rapidly closed in on a spot in the top 100. Weeks later, as a qualifier, the Brit made it all the way to the fourth round of the U.S. Open, defeating Wimbledon finalist Garbiñe Muguruza in the process. Coming into Wuhan, Konta was ranked 66 in the world. As a result, she was forced to play qualifying in order to obtain a spot in the main draw of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. After successfully qualifying for the final Premier 5 event of the season, Konta scored another big win, this time over two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka. That victory set up an intriguing match-up between Konta and top seed Simona Halep.
Halep was in relatively good form. After making it all the way to the semi final of the U.S. Open - her best performance at a slam in five outings, the world number two came to Wuhan rejuvenated and ready to make her mark on the final leg of the WTA season. Due to Serena Williams’ withdrawal, the Romanian was automatically promoted to the top seed position in Wuhan, her best seeding at a Premier 5 event to date. After getting a bye in the opening round, Halep cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the loss of just three games, setting up a third round clash against Konta.
However, it was Konta who started stronger than the two, taking the opening set 6-3 with some solid tennis as Halep struggled to keep her unforced errors count down. The Romanian struck back in a big way though, winning seven of the next eight games from 4-3 up in the second set, taking the second set 6-3 and mounting a seemingly decisive 5-1 lead in the decider. However, Konta, who started to swing freely again, began to rediscover her late summer form. The Brit shifted into a new gear, winning six games in a row to complete a seemingly improbable and dramatic 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory.
With this victory, Konta became just the second Brit to beat a top two player in 34 years (the first being Sue Barker who defeated then-world number two Tracy Austin in 1981).
“It was two hours and 17 minutes of very, very tough tennis for me,” Konta said moments after the match. “Simona really played some unbelievable tennis in parts - she may not be feeling her best, but I'm just really happy I was able to take a few of the chances I created. I'm feeling humbled and blessed I get to come back tomorrow and compete again.”