LONDON Britain’s Johanna Konta beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 3-6 6-4 on Thursday to set up a quarter-final with world number one Angelique Kerber in the Aegon International tournament at Eastbourne.
Two days of rain delays at the south coast grass court event left a backlog of matches with Konta, who grew up in Eastbourne and is Britain’s big hope in the Wimbledon women’s draw next week, one of several facing a punishing schedule.
The last-four clash was due to follow only hours later.
“I think the scoreline and the match itself shows that it was an incredibly tough battle and there was very little in it,” Konta, the Australian-born fifth seed, said on court after seeing off the 20-year-old Latvian.
“Against a player like her who has such a big game, sometimes it’s difficult to accept that you haven’t got much say in some points.”
Konta, set to become the first British woman ranked in the world’s top 10 at Wimbledon since 1984, had to rally from a break down in the deciding set to end her opponent’s eight-match winning streak.
She then won the final four games and saved a break point in the tense final one, in which Ostapenko also saved two match points, before clinching victory in two hours and 18 minutes.
Konta expected a very different kind of match against Kerber.
“I’m going to prepare the best I can for it and most importantly recover as quick as I can after this round and just really enjoy the fact that I’ve got another match today,” she said.
“I’m not the only one in this position today, so I’m sure everyone’s playing mainly on adrenaline.”
If Konta beats Kerber, who overcame Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena 6-2 6-1, Romanian Simona Halep could take the world number one ranking by reaching the final.
Second seed Halep beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-7(6) 7-6(4) 7-5 in her third round match.
Lauren Davis, of the United States, overcame eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 7-6 6-1 in a rain-delayed match before then losing in the third round to Barbora Strycova, of the Czech Republic, 7-5 6-2.
British number three Heather Watson gave the home fans another quarter-finalist by beating Russian 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-3.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ian Chadband)