WTA Miami: Johanna Konta edges past Simona Halep in thriller

WTA Miami: Johanna Konta edges past Simona Halep in thriller

Johanna Konta managed to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open for the first time in her career as she upset Simona Halep in three sets, coming back from within two points of defeat to triumph eventually.

don-han
Don Han

There was a thrilling blockbuster match in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open as world number 11 Johanna Konta came back from the brink of defeat to triumph in three sets against world number five Simona Halep, prevailing after 2 hours and 32 minutes to reach the semifinals for the first time in her career.

Halep steals the first set

The match looked to be a tight affair from the start as both players looked very solid on their serves in the opening stages of the first set, exchanging service holds to begin the match with. However, a break of serve came unexpectedly early in the set as Halep made the first breakthrough in the fourth game, breaking serve after she took advantage of Konta’s inability to find her first serves early on, jumping out to a 3-1 lead.

Although being brought to deuce in the next game, the Romanian eventually held her serve to consolidate the break of serve and extended her lead to three games in the process. Another tight service game followed as this time it was Halep who threatened to break serve once more but failed to earn a break point to get yet another break.

Johanna Konta hits a backhand | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta hits a backhand | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

With the scores at 4-2 in favor of the higher-ranked player, the Brit threatened to get the break back as she came up with some good returns and solid groundstrokes to earn her first break point opportunity of the match to have the golden opportunity to return on serve. However, a strong forehand shot forced an error out of Konta’s racquet, allowing Halep to save the break point and eventually carve out a tough service hold, narrowly extending her lead to three games and being just a game away from victory.

Showing some nerves of steel while serving to stay in the set at 2-5, Konta saved two set points with some excellent offensive tennis as she came up with some good net play on the first and hit a drive volley backhand winner on the second, which paved the way for her to hold serve and stay in the set for at least one more game. It did not affect Halep’s momentum, though, as she comfortably served out the first set to love, sealing the first set within just 41 minutes.

Johanna Konta reaches out for a shot | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta reaches out for a shot | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Konta comes back from the brink

Konta had the perfect start to the second set as she held her serve in the opening game before breaking serve to love, disrupting Halep’s rhythm with some world-class offensive style of tennis, looking to win the second set and level the match early on. The Brit then continued her excellent run by consolidating the break of serve, opening up a formidable 3-0 lead in the set.

She then originally had a chance to extend her lead to a double break as she earned two break point opportunities in the fourth game, continuing to keep Halep shell-shocked. Despite having the momentum running in her, consecutive unforced errors started to cost her as she hit two in a row on both set points, with a backhand return off a second serve barely landed out and a volley which almost managed to cross the net as it seemed like the lady luck was not shining on her this afternoon.

This managed to get Halep on the scoreboard in the second set, which boosted her confidence as she broke straight back in the next game to return level on serve all of a sudden. Konta looked to regain the lead in the sixth game when she got to deuce in Halep’s service game but was unable to earn a single break point as the Romanian made the score 3-3 in the second set.

Simona Halep in action | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Simona Halep in action | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

After an exchange of service holds, it was Konta who yet again had the golden opportunity to take the lead in the second set when she owned two break points in the eighth game, but was once again inefficient on those crucial points as she got nervous on those points and started misfiring, allowing Halep to now have the momentum.

With Konta starting to make an abundance of unforced errors, she lost her serve just right in the next game as Halep earned the lead for the first time in the second set, edging closer than ever to the victory as she had the golden opportunity to serve for the match. Having a 30-15 lead and at deuce, while serving for the match, Halep was just two points away from the huge and confidence-boosting win.

Johanna Konta in action | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta in action | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

However, she threw away the best chance she could have had in the match to seal up the win as Konta held her nerves to break straight back and level the scores once more. Saving a break point in the process, it was now the Brit who was one game away from leveling the match as she earned the tough service hold.

The set was eventually extended into a tiebreak as Halep finally had a comfortable hold to 15, and soon jumped out to a formidable 5-3 lead in the tiebreak as she once again placed herself in an advantageous position to close out the match, being two points away from the victory. There, Konta played her best tennis under a tremendous amount of pressure as she won three straight points to earn a set point of her own, which was saved by Halep. A match point seemed so close yet so far for Halep as the Brit eventually capitalized on her third set point to level the match after the lengthy 72 minutes second set.

Johanna Konta hits a forehand | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta hits a forehand | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Konta takes the huge win

After a heated coaching timeout session with her coach Darren Cahill during the changeover, Halep failed to maintain her composure as she soon fell behind 0-40 in the opening service game of the final set to start it the worst way possible. Nevertheless, the Romanian put up a very tight fight as she narrowed out a service hold the toughest way possible, getting a positive start to the final set as she managed to escape from the brink and prevented herself from going down an early deficit.

After an exchange of service holds, it was Konta who made the first breakthrough of the final set as she earned the first break point opportunity in the decider, coming in the fifth game. Yet another forehand unforced error cost Halep greatly as she hit another one on break point, conceding the break to Konta as the Brit earned the lead and looked poised for the win.

Simona Halep reaches out for a shot | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Simona Halep reaches out for a shot | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Unforced errors continued to prove costly for Halep as the Romanian started to get her rhythm all mixed up and mentality getting negative as she lagged further behind on the scoreboard, allowing Konta to take advantage and extend her lead.

She did so once again in the seventh game when Halep gifted away a second service break in succession, causing herself to trail further more in the scoreline as Konta earned the double break lead, placing her just one game away from the huge victory. The world number 11 then successfully completed the job, strolling to win the final set in just 39 minutes as she sealed a spot in her first ever semifinal of the Miami Open.  

Both players meet at the net after the match | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Both players meet at the net after the match | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

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