Johanna Konta gives no quarter as she marches on to Halep showdown

• Konta reaches last eight by beating Caroline Garcia 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4
• Jo Durie last British woman in quarter-finals during 1984 tournament

Johanna Konta released her racket high in the air and slumped to her knees after becoming the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for 33 years.

This was the most animated celebration we have seen from her on the lawns of SW19 and it came after a fierce battle against the Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the biggest test of her campaign so far handled with aplomb.

Asked what it felt like to become the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1984 to reach the final eight, Konta broke into a grin. “That’s pretty special,” she said. “It’s another step forward to being involved in the event for the full two weeks.”

Virginia Wade was the last British woman to see out the full fortnight and lift the Rosewater Dish at the conclusion, 40 years ago. She believes Konta can match her achievement this year and Monday’s 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory would support that view, even if the No6 seed herself is not so bullish.

“That’s something that’s very complimentary towards me,” she said, “It’s humbling that I have such champions thinking so highly of me. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and being in a position to be playing for the Wimbledon title, though. I haven’t really looked that far forward.”

Konta regularly attributes her rise up the rankings to an improved mental resilience and often talks of “the process” and remaining focused on the task at hand.

In a tight match it was that steely focus, particularly on the pivotal points that proved the difference. She saved six of nine break points and produced big first serves when they were most needed.

“There was very little between us out there,” said Konta. “It was one of those situations that I dreamt of when I was a little girl and being part of those battles on big stages.”

Konta was clearly not inhibited by the dubious honour of being the bookmakers’ favourite for the title, bursting out of the blocks and going up a break in the first game of the match. After setting up three break opportunities, she converted the second when Garcia pushed a forehand long and then held with ease to race to a 2-0 lead.

But Garcia is no slouch. As a 17-year-old wildcard at the French Open in 2011 she gave Maria Sharapova a scare in the second round, prompting Andy Murray to tweet his belief that he was watching a future world No1 in action.

Now 23 and the 21st seed here, she has not yet delivered on Murray’s predictions but gave Konta a headache, setting up three break points as the Briton served for the opening set.

Konta saved the first with a crushing cross-court forehand and the second with a crackerjack serve but came unstuck on the third. Garcia hit a backhand into the corner, which was called out, but the decision was overruled by Hawk Eye when challenged. A furious Konta believed the point should have been replayed but the umpire Marija Cicak was unmoved.

The British No1 recovered her composure for the tie-break, which she won 7-3. It seemed she might cruise to a straight sets victory but Konta was broken in third game of second set, to a cry of “allez” from the Frenchwoman and again in the fifth game.

The match was not without controversy. The French player’s coach, Louis-Paul Garcia, also her father, could clearly be seen making hand gestures from the player’s box which implied he was coaching his daughter during the match, an illegal practice in grand slam competitions. Louis-Paul was spotted by TV audiences, if not Cicak, making a cross sign with his fingers and raising his thumb in the air. When asked about it after the match, Garcia bristled.

“I mean, you think I’m looking at my dad for 20 seconds trying to understand what he is telling me?” she said. “Sometimes he’s doing things like that because he is disappointed when I lose points.

“Sometimes he claps like every single coach. Sometime he shows like every single coach. But there is nothing more, nothing less. It’s just, like, whatever.”

There was little to choose between the players in the deciding set but Konta had the advantage of serving first. As so often, it was decided by a couple of points and two netted forehands by Garcia gave Konta the decisive break and a victory which puts her one step closer to a famous title.

The next obstacle is the Romanian Simona Halep, who is seeded second here and will become the world No1 should she overcome Konta. The last time the pair met, Halep beat Konta at the Fed Cup in Romania, a tie that will be remembered for the ignominy of the Romanian team captain Ilie Nastase more than the tennis.

Konta was left in tears as former world No1 Nastase exploded into a foul mouthed rage during one of her matches and later said she had felt threatened by the crowd.

Halep had little sympathy for Konta at the time but the pair both insisted they had put the episode behind them. “That’s many months ago now,” said Konta. “I’m looking forward to playing against Simona Halep, the top tennis player, who is playing well right now. It’s a great opportunity for me to play again against one of the best in the world.”


Martha Kelner at Wimbledon

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