Johanna Konta admits she had to win one of the toughest battles of her career to beat Donna Vekic and reach the Wimbledon third round.
Konta edged a marathon contest on Centre Court that lasted three hours and 10 minutes and included an nerve-shredding 18-game deciding set.
By the end, she had overcome a tearful Vekic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-8 and booked her place in round three for the first time in six attempts.
The British number one saved two set points and came back from 5-3 down to take the opener, before defending two break points at the climax of the decider.
Konta will on Friday face Greek world number 101 Maria Sakkari for a place in the last 16.
“It was definitely one of the most epic matches I have been a part of,” Konta said. “I think both myself and Donna played very well. Both of us deserved to win. I think it was one of those matches where it was going to just be decided at the very last minute.
“I feel very fortunate to have come through that so it was a great battle to be a part of.”
Konta has been circled as a genuine contender for the title at the All England Club but doubts have been raised about her ability to handle the expectation of a home tournament.
The sixth seed, however, enjoyed the support of a packed-out crowd against Vekic and showed few signs of crumbling when the pressure mounted.
“I think Centre Court at Wimbledon and any centre court at any of the slams is an electric kind of stage to play on,” Konta said. “Obviously for me personally, being on a home Centre Court is pretty special and the crowd are what also make that special for me, their support for us.
“I think for both Donna and myself the appreciation that they showed, the battle that we showcased, I think that was pretty amazing.”
Konta’s victory means Britain has two women into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 1986, after Heather Watson earlier knocked out 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Later in the day, five-time champion Venus Williams fought past rising chinese Wang Qiang 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to set-up a mouth-watering third round with Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
No2 seed Simona Halep beat Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5, 6-3 to book a meeting with China’s Peng Shuai.
Defending champion eased past German-Jamaican Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and next takes on Italy’s Fabio Fognini, while Rafael Nadal skipped past American Donald Young 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. The Spaniard faces big-hitting Russian NextGen player Karen Khachanov in round three.
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