Johanna Konta reached her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal by virtue of a 6-1 6-4 victory over Ekaterina Makarova on Monday. The British #1 has been dominant throughout the tournament, and now gets a tough match with Serena Williams, the world #2. Williams got off to a shaky start against Barbora Strycova, but Strycova couldn’t get it done in the clutch. Once Serena applied pressure, she prevailed 7-5 6-4. The Serena vs. Konta match will be a battle of experience and poise, against form, and confidence. Serena hasn’t been lights out this tournament, but she’s continued to rack up the victories, while Konta has bludgeoned opponents at times.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni kept her cinderella story alive, dispatching Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-2, as the young qualifier finally ran out of steam. Lucic now faces a very difficult test in the form of Karolina Pliskova, who like Konta, is playing some of her best tennis this week. Pliskova defeated Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-3 and has her target set on a second career Grand Slam final appearance, after reaching last year’s US Open final.
Men’s Quarterfinals Featuring Nadal and Dimitrov Are Set
On the men’s side, David Goffin posted a big victory in the early match of the day, prevailing against Dominic Thiem 5-7 7-6 6-2 6-2. Goffin has historically struggled against top players, and after dropping the first set, it looked as if a golden opportunity would pass him by. Goffin get his head up though, and in the end Thiem’s fitness issues dashed his chances. Goffin has now made two quarterfinals in his career, as he continues to improve his results.
Grigor Dimitrov had the easiest opponent of the four men’s victors on Day 8, but for nearly two sets it didn’t feel like it. Denis Istomin gave it a spirited effort, but his cramping legs failed him, as Dimitrov prevailed 2-6 7-6 6-2 6-1. Dimitrov has played two bad sets this tournament, but still hasn’t lost a match this year and now has a great shot at a second career Grand Slam semifinal.
Milos Raonic looks to be over his flu, and he dictated play in a 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut. RBA did little to make inroads on Raonic’s serve, and he eventually lost his will to compete, as Raonic smacked winners to prevail. The Canadian #1 is now one match away from reprising his semifinal appearance in Melbourne last season.
Standing in Raonic’s way is Rafael Nadal. Rafa looked confident and in control, as he left Gael Monfils frustrated for more than two sets late Monday night. The Frenchman slipped into a bad habit of passive tennis, while Rafa was coming forward when he had the chance and winning key points. Monfils found his range though, and caught fire in the third set. Newly aggressive, he forced a fourth set, and had a solid chance to send the match into a 5th. However, Rafa fought back, and then broke Monfils for the second service game in a row to take the match. Monfils got tight when the pressure was on, and demonstrated why he’s never won a Grand Slam, while Nadal has won 14 of them.
The match against Raonic will be tough for Rafa, but he leads the h2h against the Canadian, and is certainly playing better on hard courts than he has in recent years.