US Open 2021

Johanna Konta loses to Elina Svitolina in quarter-finals

British number one Johanna Konta missed out on the US Open semi-finals after she was worn down by Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

Konta, 28, was unable to impose herself in a 6-4 6-4 defeat on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 16th seed, aiming to complete the set of major semi-final appearances, was forced into errors by 24-year-old Svitolina's impressive retrieving.

She saved two match points before rock-solid Svitolina served out the win.

Svitolina, the highest seed left in the draw, will play American 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams or China's Wang Qiang in the last four.

Despite being outclassed by a superior opponent at the final Grand Slam of the season, Konta can reflect on a successful year at the majors after reaching the French Open semi-finals - on a clay surface on which she had previously struggled - and another run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Former world number four Konta was on the verge of dropping out of the top 50 earlier this year before a change of fortunes under new coach Dimitri Zavialoff - who enjoyed success with Swiss pair Stan Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinszky - has lifted her back to the cusp of the world's top 10.

The Frenchman has given Konta more "autonomy" to solve the problems put forward by her opponents, although her valiant attempts to play with variation could not unsettle Svitolina. Konta was the first British woman to reach the US Open quarter-finals since Jo Durie in 1983, but could not match her feat by going one step further as Svitolina maintained her record of not dropping a set during the tournament.

The Ukrainian, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals and also won the WTA Tour Finals last year, is one of the most consistent ball-strikers in the women's game and her ability to keep putting the ball back into play proved Konta's downfall. It led to Konta trying to force the points with her aggressive returns, leading to 35 unforced errors - and 20 more forced by her opponent - outweighing 24 winners. By contrast, Svitolina only made 13 unforced errors in a high-quality performance. "I do feel that was the best I've felt her play against me," Konta said. "I didn't play badly at all, I was doing a lot of bright things. She just made me play that extra ball, it's frustrating."

By Terrence Block from Miami, FL.

Tennis Chronicles, January 8th, 2021.

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