‘I can still reach Slam final’ – Konta has ‘no regrets’ after French Open semi loss

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2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

British number one Johanna Konta has “no regrets” after her French Open semi-final defeat and believes she can still reach a Grand Slam final.

Her surprise run to the last four ended in a 7-5 7-6 (7-2) defeat by Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova on Friday.

The 28-year-old had not previously won a main-draw match at Roland Garros.

“I’m proud of this past fortnight and working towards going one step better,” said Konta, who was appearing in her third Grand Slam semi-final.

Konta, seeded 26th, became the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1983 to compete in the French Open semi-finals.

She reached her first major semi-final at the 2016 Australian Open and did the same at Wimbledon the following year, losing to multiple Grand Slam winners Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams respectively.

These experiences meant she was the only player left in the Roland Garros last four to have reached that stage of a Slam singles previously, yet she missed vital opportunities as Vondrousova fought back from 5-3 down in both sets to win.

Nevertheless, it has been a successful clay-court swing for the Briton, who reached two WTA finals on the surface before her exploits in Paris, and will climb back into the world’s top 20 when the latest rankings are released next week.

“I didn’t regret anything I did there,” Konta said. “I feel comfortable with how I played and what I tried to do.

“I don’t feel like I came into this week trying to prove anything to anybody, including myself.

“I think what’s most pleasing is to play a lot of matches and I definitely did in this month. I’m really pleased with how many tough matches I was able to come through.”

Asked whether she can make the next step into a Grand Slam final, Konta said: “There is no reason why I cannot.

“I’m putting myself into positions. It’s either going to happen or it’s not.

“I still have a lot to be proud of. Even if I were to stop playing tomorrow, I have done a lot of great things in my career so far.

“I’m not at all disappointed in the player that I am or things that I have achieved.

“But equally, I’m just as hungry and just as motivated to keep going forward and to one day be in a position to be winning a major.”

Now the focus moves to the grass-court season – particularly Wimbledon, which starts on 1 July – with former British number one Durie warning the world’s best to “watch out” for Konta at her home Slam.

As well as her Wimbledon run two years ago, Konta has also reached finals and semi-finals at Nottingham and Eastbourne in recent years.

“She’s had this great run of form on what is probably her worst surface so she will feel great going on to the grass,” Durie, 58, said.

“Grass must be her favourite surface, every year she does well.”

Empty seats – ‘it didn’t feel like a semi-final’

Empty seats on Court Simonne-Mathieu<!–

While she was more than satisfied with her performances here, Konta was less happy with the decision to move the women’s semi-finals away from the main Philippe Chatrier court after rain washed out play on Wednesday.

The 5,000-capacity Court Simonne-Mathieu was barely a third full for her match, while there were also plenty of empty seats on Court Suzanne-Lenglen for Ashleigh Barty’s victory over Amanda Anisimova in the other semi-final at the same time.

Asked if it felt like her two previous Grand Slam semi-finals, played on Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena and Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she replied: “In terms of the surrounding and the occasion, probably not.

“Obviously, I’m aware in what match I’m playing and what round. But in terms of where we were, probably not.

“To be honest, I think the way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything.”

The two men’s semi-finals were being played on Philippe Chatrier on Friday and organisers said they had chosen to hold the women’s semi-finals at the same time away from centre court earlier in the day “to respect sporting fairness”.

Tickets for both men’s semi-finals were sold to fans as separate sessions to be played on Chatrier on Friday, leaving Roland Garros with little room for manoeuvre as they tried to plan for heavy rain and strong winds forecast.

WTA boss Steve Simon called the decision “inappropriate and unfair”, while former world number one Amelie Mauresmo said it was a “disgrace”.

“If the organisers do not feel that [women’s semi-finals] are something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well,” Konta said.

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