LONDON (Reuters) - Johanna Konta won what could well be the most important match of her career on Wednesday, and can go on to become the first British woman to win Wimbledon in 40 years, former world number one Mats Wilander told Reuters.
The Swede, leading Eurosport’s coverage of the grasscourt grand slam, says her second-round win over Donna Vekic could prove to be pivotal in her career.
“Bigger than winning titles, bigger than other milestone wins... this could be the most important match of her career,” Wilander said. “Huge... just huge,” he added after her 7-6 4-6 10-8 win.
”Centre Court was full, there was not one single seat available. This crowd was expecting her to win. The conditions were perfect, just a beautiful day.
“All the conditions were there for her to choke. If she was going to choke, this was the day to do it. And she didn’t - she delivered. This will give her huge confidence, and she will move up a level, really grow from this,” the seven-times grand slam champion added.
On a searingly hot day in south-west London there could be no doubting that the British number one thoroughly deserved her win.
She took everything her Croatian opponent threw at her, and came back time and time again with answers to all the problems she encountered in a more-than three-hour battle.
Konta is looking to become the first British woman to win the Wimbledon singles since Virginia Wade in 1977, but there was no sign any pressure was getting to her.
“I‘m approaching this event like I am every other event. I‘m coming here to do the best that I can, to compete the best I can. I think I showed that today,” she told reporters.
Show it she did, displaying an enviable armoury.
Wilander said her serve was key and could make all the difference to her assault on the title.
“She has a really great serve that never lets her down. She used it a lot today when she was in trouble,” he said.
“That is such an amazing weapon, to have when you are love-30 down you can just hit two unplayable serves. At 6-6 and 7-7 she was able to do that.”
Another great weapon is the power of the crowd, and Konta, who faces Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the third round, also wielded that to perfection.
“It is huge that she is playing home at a grand slam,” Wilander said.
”When the fans were rooting for her, she really delivered. And that is great going forward, because when they root for you and you respond like she did, they will support you even more, all the way, because they know you will give 100 percent.
“There are maybe 10-15 women here who all believe they can win here... and for sure Konta can win this. She has the game, the shots, the weapons - and the confidence.”