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Konta leaves US legend Evert 'speechless' with Roland Garros breakthrough

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Paris (AFP)

Johanna Konta became the first British woman in 36 years to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals on Tuesday in a performance which left US legend and seven-time Paris champion Chris Evert "speechless".

Konta, the 26th seed, swept past seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, last year's runner-up, 6-1, 6-4.

"I am speechless and not many matches make me speechless," Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, told Eurosport.

"Jo Konta, I take my hat off to you, I have never seen her play that kind of tennis, she would've beaten anybody the way she played today."

The 28-year-old Konta had not won a match at Roland Garros in any of her previous four visits.

But now she has emulated Jo Durie who was the last British woman to make the French Open semi-finals in 1983.

"I've always said that whenever I step out onto the court, I'm always going to have a chance. I'm always going to have a shot," said Konta when told of Evert's glowing praise.

"I don't think any player on tour can go on court against me and feel like they've definitely got it.

"I definitely back myself and my ability that way."

Next up for Konta is a clash with either Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova or Croatian 31st Petra Martic for a place in Saturday's final.

It will be her third semi-final at a major after runs to the last-four at the 2016 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017.

"I wouldn't say it means more. It's a different process getting here than when I got to the semi-final at Wimbledon or even when I got to the semi-final at Australia," added Konta after her third win in 2019 over Stephens.

Both players complained about the famed Paris clay blowing away off the court in a stiff breeze.

But at least they had the advantage of getting back into the locker room before torrential rain, thunder and lighting brought the men's quarter-finals to a halt later in the day.

Konta broke former US Open champion Stephens in the fourth and sixth games of the first set.

The Briton fired four aces and 12 winners past her 26-year-old opponent in the 35-minute opener.

Konta tightened her grip with a break in the opening game of the second set and that proved more than enough.

Such was Konta's domination that she allowed Stephens just one point on her serve in the entire second set which ended with a whimper when the American sent a groundstroke wide of the mark.

Stephens, one of three Americans to reach the quarter-finals, admitted that the thin clay surface may have played into Konta's hands.

"Clay is a great neutraliser, but there wasn't very much clay on the court today. So that was a little bit tough," said Stephens.

"She likes to play on hard court and grass, and the court was very fast today, and I think that kind of worked in her favour."

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