By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) – Sloane Stephens will be delighted if she never has to face Johanna Konta again after losing to the Briton for the fourth straight occasion and in the second consecutive Grand Slam at Wimbledon on Saturday.
Since the start of the year, the British and American number ones have crossed paths in Brisbane, Rome, at Roland Garros and now Wimbledon, but the result has always been the same.
Konta seems to have the Indian sign over the American, who had the upper hand for much of their encounter at the All England Club but was still beaten 3-6 6-4 6-1.
There is no obvious explanation for Konta’s dominance over Stephens, who is nine places above the Briton in the rankings and a Grand Slam winner.
On her day, the American has shown she can beat anybody, but there is something about Konta’s game that discomforts her, especially when the Briton gets on top.
Stephens has acknowledged that she has had a “rough year” with Konta, who mauled her 6-1 6-4 in their French Open quarter-final, but for all of the first set and much of the second on Saturday, she was the better player.
After losing the first set, Konta faced three break points in an epic fifth game of the second when she came under enormous pressure.
“I don’t think anyone can go on court against me feeling sure it’s a done deal,” Konta said, and the remainder of the match showed why.
After saving those break points, she won 10 of the next 13 games to set up a last-16 match against twice champion Petra Kvitova, an experience she believes will stand her in good stead, no matter the result.
“The more opportunities I get to be in the latter stages of Grand Slams, the more experience I gain,” she said.
“Experience can only bring good things. It can only help with managing different things, different situations that come up at this point of the tournament.”
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Clare Fallon)