Johanna Konta and Andy Murray make history with different approaches | Barry Glendenning

Konta was serene, Murray rather spiky, but Britain has representatives in both the Wimbledon men’s and women’s quarter-finals for the first time since 1973

Liveried in regulation green and purple and an anachronism at an All England Club that has long been digitised, the resolutely old school, manually operated order of play board outside Centre Court is one of Wimbledon’s more popular locations for souvenir selfies.

To post the names of those players starring on the show courts, officials must ascend a wooden ladder and while Andy Murray has been box office round Wimbledon way for more than a decade, it is a measure of Johanna Konta’s recent progress that on a day when all 32 remaining competitors in both the men’s and women’s singles were playing, the highest steps were once again pressed into service to help signpost the British No1’s exalted status among her sport’s elite.

On a day billed alliteratively by the BBC as Magical Manic Monday, the duo made their respective opponents disappear to become the first British man and woman to advance to the last eight of the same championships since 1973. It was in that year the United Kingdom became a fully fledged member of the European Community, a state of affairs which suggests that for tennis – a sport one suspects which has no shortage of Brexiteers among its Panama hat-wearing Middle England following – some good has finally come from the decision last year to leave.

A four-times first-round loser at Wimbledon before falling at the second hurdle last year, Konta looked blissfully unencumbered by the dual burdens of tournament favouritism and local expectation as she enhanced her burgeoning status by advancing to the quarter-finals of the women’s singles at the expense of Caroline Garcia. Konta carries herself with the poise and confidence of a prospective champion and, in a women’s draw that could scarcely be more open, now finds herself three matches away from having the Venus Rosewater Dish to show for it.

In the next round Konta will face Romania’s Simona Halep and ought have no fear. She showed precious little in dispatching Garcia, her younger French opponent who found the net for the second consecutive point to ease Konta’s passage at the earliest opportunity.

Meanwhile on Centre Court, Murray had French opposition of his own to contend with in the form of Benoît Paire, a bearded hipster with a repertoire of flash shots and a questionable weakness for drop shots that regularly let him down. He provided stiffer opposition for the British No1 than expected, forcing the first set to a tie‑break and prompting no end of self-flagellation from Murray, who could be seen angrily remonstrating with himself and the occupants of his box as early as the second game.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray consolidates Benoît Paire after his straight sets win on Centre Court. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

There was no such spikiness from Konta, whose commendable zen‑like serenity in the face of the Big Points was only briefly ruffled by a frank exchange of views with the umpire Marija Cicak over one of several Hawk-Eye challenges to go against her. Still seething, she followed up with three unforced errors before getting her own, more important challenge back on the rails. While two similarly unforced errors by Garcia cost her the match, it could be argued that Konta won it with a fizzing backhand pass to make it 30-30 on her opponent’s serve in the final game. The atmosphere crackled as the crowd roared their encouragement and two rallies later the first British woman to make the quarter‑finals since Jo Durie in 1984 sank to her knees before skipping jubilantly towards the net for the post‑match handshake. Evidently not one to dwell too long on what was a fine triumph, she was more eager to discuss the white raspberry and chocolate muffins she had baked earlier in the day than any aspect of her game by the time her post‑match press conference came around.

Murray, too, had his own skirmish with officialdom, taking umpire Mohamed Lahyani to task for refusing him a challenge on serve early in the third set despite first appearing to acknowledge it. “You said challenge because you heard me say challenge,” Murray protested. “No! No! No!” As they continued the debate from their respective chairs during the changeover, Lahyani magnanimously conceded that he had been wrong. Paire, by contrast, conceded little easily and on an afternoon when he struggled to find any sort of rhythm Murray’s victory was less convincing than the straight sets suggested despite his assertion that “today was by far the best I hit the ball”.

A lot done, more to do, then, after an often chilly day at Wimbledon where it was left to British tennis’s two biggest stars to warm the public cockles. For Murray, set to make his 10th consecutive quarter-final appearance, this is nothing new but he seemed enthused by the emergence of a compatriot and “new role model” to share the burden of second-week public expectation. He could, though, be forgiven for sounding just a little bit mournful as he observed that perhaps the main benefit in getting another Brit to the quarter‑finals is that “a lot of people in this country don’t like watching me play”.


Barry Glendenning at Wimbledon

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Johanna Konta can take solace in defeat from Virginia Wade’s early SW19 losses | Jacob Steinberg
History tends to forget that Virginia Wade lost her first two Wimbledon semi-finals, a fact from which Johanna Konta should take heart

Jacob Steinberg at Wimbledon

13, Jul, 2017 @8:46 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta preserves fiery focus and dares to dream as Caroline Garcia awaits | Kevin Mitchell
The British No1 has sailed into Wimbledon’s last 16 with three displays of steely purpose and goes into the tournament’s final week aiming to make history

Kevin Mitchell at Wimbledon

09, Jul, 2017 @9:30 PM

Article image
Andy Murray exit leaves Johanna Konta to satisfy Wimbledon’s lust for glory | Barney Ronay
Seven times in the past eight years the second Friday of Wimbledon has been an all-out Murray gig – this time Konta carries the semi-final hopes of a nation

Barney Ronay at Wimbledon

12, Jul, 2017 @9:07 PM

Article image
Wimbledon crowd can expect more nailbiting moments from Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta bowed to the court craft of Venus Williams but her Wimbledon semi-final exit could not dampen the enthusiasm of her fans

Sean Ingle at Wimbledon

13, Jul, 2017 @11:40 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta first British woman into Wimbledon semi-final since 1978
Johanna Konta beat Simona Halep 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 and will now face Venus Williams in the semi-final

Kevin Mitchell at Wimbledon

11, Jul, 2017 @6:01 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta takes revenge on Donna Vekic to reach Wimbledon third round
Johanna Konta beat Donna Vekic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-8 in the ladies singles second round, to ensure that there two British women into third round for the first time since 1986

Martha Kelner at Wimbledon

05, Jul, 2017 @6:58 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta feels the force from roaring Centre Court crowd
The Wimbledon crowd found their voice after a muted start as a match of awesome hitting and gruelling rallies reached a rousing finale

Paul MacInnes at Wimbledon

11, Jul, 2017 @7:45 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta fit for Wimbledon after hurting spine in ‘traumatic fall’
Johanna Konta said she was fit for Wimbledon after withdrawing from Eastbourne with a back injury while Heather Watson is raring to go after two winning streaks

Kevin Mitchell at Wimbledon

02, Jul, 2017 @4:23 PM

Article image
Venus Williams into Wimbledon final with smooth defeat of Johanna Konta
The American defeated Britain’s best – and first semi-finalist since Virginia Wade in 1978 – 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and a quarter

Kevin Mitchell at Wimbledon

13, Jul, 2017 @3:31 PM

Article image
Johanna Konta’s inspiring story is about far more than accents and flags | Barney Ronay
Win or lose against Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals a fine mid-twenties British talent has begun to hit the groove

Barney Ronay at Wimbledon

12, Jul, 2017 @4:37 PM