Wimbledon: Johanna Konta renews old rivalry with Simona Halep for a place in semi-final

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta will not let any lingering animosity with Simona Halep divert her attempt to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 1978.

Konta beat France’s Caroline Garcia 7-6 (7/3) 4-6 6-4 in the last 16 and is now looking to match Virginia Wade’s run to the last four 39 years ago.

She may also have her eye on Wade’s most significant record as the last British female to win Wimbledon in 1977.

But first, Konta must overcome Halep, the world number two, for whom the stakes are also high as she needs just one more victory at SW19 to become world number one.

“I hope I will not think that much during the match,” Halep said, after beating Victoria Azarenka in the last 16. “I just want to go there and win it.”

There is also likely to be a personal edge to Tuesday’s contest after Halep accused Konta of gamesmanship during their Fed Cup tie in April.

Konta was playing Halep’s team-mate Sorana Cirstea when she left the court for a 20-minute break, claiming to have been abused by a section of the crowd.

Halep went on to beat Konta 6-1 6-3 the following day and afterwards said she had felt “extra motivation” because of her opponent’s behaviour.

Asked if the spat would hang over their upcoming match, Konta said: “I’m playing against another tennis player, another opponent.

“I’m not playing against a crowd. I’m not playing against a past experience.

“Again, they were not in my shoes. They were not being verbally threatened. I think it’s very difficult for them to understand my position in it.”

Halep added: “After the match that day I said sorry if she felt bad. In my opinion, the public was very fair.

“I didn’t have an emotional match with her. The problem was not with me. I don’t expect it to be emotional, I expect a battle.”

Konta has won both of her two WTA matches against Halep, each in a final set, and the Briton might also enjoy the benefit of some inside knowledge, given her coach Wim Fissette worked with the Romanian in 2014.

Halep will provide an altogether different test to the more aggressive Garcia, who was unable to prevent Konta becoming the first British female to reach the last eight since Jo Durie in 1984.

“It’s very exciting. It’s another step forward to being involved in the event for the full two weeks,” Konta said.

“But it is a massive compliment to me. It’s a great achievement.

“Of course I’ve dreamed of it ever since I was a little girl, to be a grand slam champion - but right now I’m in the quarter-final stage.”

The world number seven has home company after Andy Murray defeated Benoit Paire 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 6-4.

Not for 44 years have a British man and woman made the singles quarter-finals in the same year, and hopes are high that this may not be the end of the story.

“I think it’s great,” said Murray, who plays American Sam Querrey on Wednesday.

“I do think it makes a difference to the interest in the sport because a lot of people who follow tennis in this country won’t enjoy watching me play. It’s true.

“So it’s great if you have someone like Jo or Kyle (Edmund), or whoever it is. People like different game styles, different personalities.

“It’s great that she’s doing well. Hopefully she keeps going the next few days.”