Johanna Konta’s French Open heroics can set her up for a “huge result” at Wimbledon, according to former world number one Lindsay Davenport.
The British number one will contest her third grand slam semi-final at the French Open on Friday having surprisingly found herself as the most experienced player left.
She faces Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova on Friday, with the other last-four clash pitting eighth seed Ashleigh Barty against Amanda Anisimova, none of whom had ever reached the semi-finals at a slam before.
Konta had lost all four first-round matches she had played at Roland Garros prior to this year but has found her form on clay spectacularly this season, with a run to the final of the WTA event in Rome sending her confidence soaring.
Konta had been thought of as much more of a danger on faster surfaces, particularly grass, and Davenport expects her to go from strength to strength.
“I’ve loved how she’s played this clay-court season,” said Davenport. “It’s not easy to muster up a lot of confidence. When you haven’t played your best and going into your worst surface, but she keeps her eyes on track.
“She continues to work, continues to believe in herself. I love how she has turned around her year and career the last few weeks.
“Her results in Rome, her results here, whatever it is, you’ve got to think that she’s going to go into the grass (with confidence).
“Hopefully she plays a really smart schedule, because grand slams, when you make a run, it takes something out of you and it’s always important to recover, especially with Wimbledon coming up so soon.
“Sometimes the temptation is to keep playing, keep playing. Hopefully she assesses everything really well and doesn’t overplay going into the biggest tournament for her, which is Wimbledon, because I think she’s setting herself up for a huge result there.”
Konta hit a high of four in the rankings in 2017 after reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon only to suffer burn-out and a dramatic slump that saw her drop to 50 a year later.
She is back up to 26 and will return to the top 10 should she go on to lift the trophy on Saturday.
Davenport is not surprised to see Konta back at this level, saying: “I’ve always thought she’s had it.
“I don’t know her intimately so it’s hard to know what someone’s really going through in their mind but how she works, how she speaks, how she approaches her career, that’s going to pay off, and you can see it paying off this season.
“I was more surprised by her drop off. I thought she was great, especially that Wimbledon all the way through to the semis, hitting the ball great. I’ve been more just perplexed by the fall without a major injury so it’s great to see her working back.
“It’s not easy for players to recover going through a slump, so my heart opens up when a player that may have been starting to get written off, or people start to get pretty hard on them, are able to still rise above and get back there. I love that.”
Unfortunately, a poor weather forecast and scheduling commitments mean neither of the delayed women’s semi-finals will be played on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova will play on Suzanne Lenglen while Konta and Vondrousova have been relegated to the 5,000-capacity Simonne Mathieu.
Nineteen-year-old Vondrousova may be a new name at this level but she has been the most in-form women’s player since the Australian Open and is yet to drop a set at the tournament.
Davenport gives the edge to Konta, though, saying: “Vondrousova, she’s had an excellent couple of months, but it’s so hard to put your money on someone who hasn’t been there before and is going in to play their biggest match.
“You just don’t know. You know a great champion when they’re able to go and play their best match in their biggest match.”