Johanna Konta had been on quite a roll heading into her second-round match Thursday against No. 9 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Yet, none of her recent success could have predicted just what she managed to pull off in her epic 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 win over the highly accomplished Spaniard. Playing in 90-degree heat and oppressive humidity and battling for 3 hours, 23 minutes in what ultimately became the longest women’s match in US Open history, Konta showed big-match poise and composure that was as notable and surprising as the heat and the record length of the match.
Konta had a career 2-7 Grand Slam record (including her first-round win here) and 14-match winning streak coming into the match. But the first 10 wins came on the Futures circuit on her way to titles at unheralded events in Vancouver and Granby Canada. She had battled her way through three rounds of qualifying here at the Open and a first-round win over No. 119-ranked American Louisa Chirico. Certainly increasing that win streak to 15 was a tall order, considering the stage, the US Open, and an opponent who had reached a Grand Slam final as recently as 2015 Wimbledon in July.
It mattered little. The Grand Slam pressure. The Top 10 player. The heat. The humidity. The record-setting length of the match. Konta appeared remarkably up to the challenge from the start, matching the Spaniard's power from the baseline but playing a more composed match overall. In the end, Konta made just 34 unforced errors, while Muguruza threw in 59.
There were certainly stumbles along the way. Up 5-3 in the second, she played a sloppy game to drop her serve and allow Muguruza back into the set. But Konta was clearly the aggressor when it counted most, and she took command of the tiebreak, scoring the first mini-break and serving out the breaker with a backhand winner and a big serve out wide that forced an error. She stumbled in the second set again, particularly in the tiebreak, coming unglued for a bit when she lost a point on a challenge but felt the point should have been replayed. But by the third set, she was lights out, running out to a 4-0 lead and looking like the more experienced, confident player.
After her first-round win, Konta credited the help of a sports psychologist for helping her shore up her mental game. If her winning streak continues past her hard-fought, impressive win No. 15 today, that medical practitioner is certainly going to deserve a big bonus.