Wimbledon 2017: Johanna Konta sees off Donna Vekic in thriller

The sixth seeded Brit took revenge for her Nottingham finals defeat with an enthralling victory over the gutsy Croat.

Wimbledon 2017: Johanna Konta sees off Donna Vekic in thriller
Konta reacts after her scintillating victory/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Johanna Konta
2 1
Donna Vekic

Sixth seed Johanna Konta is through to the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career after a memorable 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-8 victory over Donna Vekic.

‚ÄčThe win comes three weeks after the Croat upset the Brit in the final of Nottingham, also a three-set thriller. 

Konta takes first set in tiebreak

It was Vekic who was under pressure right away, a netted forehand bringing up two break points from Konta, but good serving and some solid volleying saw the Croatian through the opening service game.

Konta was under a slight bit of bother in the fourth game as Vekic battled to 30-all. Some good volleying of her own and an errant return from the Croat brings the set level at 2-2.

Vekic finally made the first breakthrough late in the set. With a 4-3 lead, she created a 0-30 opening and an aggressive second serve by Konta missed the mark, bringing up three break chances. After saving the first, a wild forehand gave the world number 57 a chance to serve out the set.

Ahead 40-15, Vekic had two opportunities to close out the opening frame, but some excellent work from the baseline sees Konta back into the game and a double fault gives the British number one a break point.

Saved with an ace, Vekic would double again, this time she paid the price, powering a forehand long and Konta was back on serve. After a quick love hold, the world number seven is back on the front foot with three break points, but the Croat's powerful serve and forehand secure her hold.

A first set tiebreak would decide matters and neither player would hold through the first three points. Teetering back and forth, a return hit long gave Konta the edge she needed at 5-4 and with a forehand winner and strong serve forcing another error, the Brit takes the tiebreak and is a set to the good.

Fast start propels Vekic into decider

It was a bit of a dip for the Brit as she was in an immediate 0-40 hole to open the second set. Firing an ace to save the first break point, she couldn't save the second as a forehand was well off the mark, handing Vekic an immediate lead.

Shifting her strategy, the Croat began employing the drop shot more and it was successful in key moments as she held for a 2-0 lead. Just like the end of the first set, Vekic is broken. Facing her own 0-40 deficit, she saved the first two break points, but a sizzling forehand into the corner gets Konta back on serve.

The momentum was swinging back and forth and it would shift again as Vekic was again in front on Konta's serve, this time at 15-40. Her forehand continued to do the damage and here again it brought her a break and the lead.

It looked like Konta would restore parity to the set, but two break points were gone in a flash, Vekic blasting an ace and following it up with more solid serving to put her ahead 4-2. Another love hold puts her on the brink of forcing a third set.

Despite missing some first serves while serving for the set, Vekic uses her biggest weapon to her advantage, Konta unable to punish the second serves that come her way. It's a terrific first serve that gives the Croat the second set and pushes this magnificent encounter into a deserved final set.

Konta wins classic final set

After a seven minute break by both players to refresh themselves, little drama ensued as the third set got underway. Neither player would break in the decider and the server was now barely losing points.

Through nine games, each woman lost just three points on serve. It would be Vekic who sniffed the first chance, reaching deuce on Konta's serve at 5-5, but the Brit leaned on her serve to get her a couple of free points and hold.

An ace down the middle confirmed Vekic's hold and she sprinted to a 0-30 on the world number seven's serve and eventually a break point, a pressure point if there ever was one. The nerves were settled as Konta takes the last three points to hold and lead 7-6.

A slip does little to impede Konta's progress and she gets to 15-30 on Vekic's serve, but bold hitting gets the world number 57 out of trouble and again she takes a 0-30 lead, but again, smart and brave serving bails the Brit out.

The pressure was getting to Vekic and a double fault to start the game followed by a wild groundstroke error put Konta two points from victory, but the Croat's serve reappears at just the right time and she scrapes out a hold.

For a third straight game, Konta allows the underdog a 0-30 lead and when Vekic gets to break point, she squanders a massive chance, an error off of a second serve. A hold for 9-8 and the Brit ups her aggression and gets to match point, only to see the Croat bomb an ace.

A second match point would come for Konta with a brilliant forehand winner and this time there would be no fightback as Vekic swats one final groundstroke into the net, the pair embracing at the net after 3 hours and 10 minutes of breathtaking tennis.

Konta next faces Maria Sakkari of Greece, into the third round of a major for the second time.


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