Tennis-Svitolina downs Konta to reach U.S. Open semis
By Rory Carroll
NEW YORK, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Ukraine's Elina Svitolina continued her dominant run against Johanna Konta with a 6-4 6-4 win on Tuesday to reach the U.S. Open semi-finals for the first time.
The fifth seed, who has won all of her meetings with the Briton, reached her second straight Grand Slam semi after also making the last four at Wimbledon in July.
Svitolina's sturdy baseline attack wore down the 16th-seeded Konta, who made 35 unforced errors, 22 more than her opponent, on a sun-soaked day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"It feels amazing," she said of being the first player to reach the semis at the tournament this year.
"It was a very, very tough match ... I think we were both striking the ball and it was quite even," she said.
"I'm very happy with how I handled the pressure today."
Svitolina rifled a backhand winner on break point for a 4-3 lead in the second set, celebrating with an emphatic fist pump in front of the crowd that included her French boyfriend Gael Monfils, who plays his quarter-final on Wednesday.
Konta continued to fight, however, saving two match points on her serve, but Svitolina ended the contest in the next game when the Briton fired long.
Svitolina said Monfils, her frequent practice partner, has been a source of encouragement throughout the tournament.
"Definitely we are pushing each other I think because we are trying to join each other in the quarter-final and now the semi final... so now he has to step up his game," she added with a laugh.
Svitolina has yet to drop a set in her run at Flushing Meadows where she has dispatched opponents including former world number one Venus Williams and 2017 finalist Madison Keys.
Despite the loss Konta can hold her head high as she leaves New York after defeating third seed Karolina Pliskova in a tight three-set match on Sunday.
She has performed well on her Grand Slam appearances this year, including reaching a semi-final at the French Open and a quarter-final at Wimbledon.
"It's the best I have ever done so far in my career (at Grand Slams)," the 28-year-old told reporters
"There is a lot to be proud of there. There's a lot to, you know, look back and smile on.
"Yeah, it's a nice achievement to have been able to do that."
Next up for Svitolina is a clash with either 23-time major champion Serena Williams or 18th seed Wang Qiang of China, who play their quarter-final match later on Tuesday.
The defensive specialist said she will need to have her running shoes laced up if she faces the powerhouse Williams.
"I have to run a lot, like all (in) other matches," she told reporters. "That's normal. And try to react -- I played some big hitters in this tournament, a lot, and I have to just react quickly with my feet and with my shots, as well.
"Then when I have the opportunity, go for it."
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)
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