Western and Southern Open: Johanna Konta & Novak Djokovic reach semi-finals

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Johanna Konta hits a return at the Western and Southern Open
World number 15 Johanna Konta has reached the last four at the Western and Southern Open for the first time

British number one Johanna Konta continued her impressive form as she beat Maria Sakkari to reach the Western and Southern Open semi-finals.

The 29-year-old has still not dropped serve all week after a 6-4 6-3 victory over the Greek 13th seed.

The eighth seed's semi against Victoria Azarenka will be on Friday after organisers suspended play for a day in protest against racial inequality.

Several US sports fixtures are off in protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin near Milwaukee.

Former US Open champion Naomi Osaka had already pulled out of her semi-final before the decision to pause play at the Western and Southern Open, saying that "as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis".

The Japanese former world number one has now decided she will play her match against Belgian 14th seed Elise Mertens on Friday, saying: "I was [and am] ready to concede my match to my opponent.

"However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday. They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and that in my mind brings more attention to the movement."

In a statement, the US Tennis Association, ATP and WTA said "tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice".

Konta's good form continues

Konta dominated a one-sided match against Sakkari, converting three of 12 break points in a routine win over the player who had beaten 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the previous round.

"I was really pleased I was able to adapt well and stay tough when I needed to," said Konta, whose partnership with new coach Thomas Hogstedt has started well in New York.

"I was able to compete in the parts of the match where I thought it was important for momentum."

Konta is hoping the appointment of Hogstedt, who previously coached Maria Sharapova, can help her make the leap from three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist to major champion at next week's US Open.

The Grand Slam starts on Monday at Flushing Meadows, which is also hosting the Western and Southern Open this week.

The event is usually held in Cincinnati but was moved to create a two-tournament safety bubble that also incorporates the first major since the sport was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka, 31, earned her place in the semi-finals with a 7-6 6-2 win against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur.

Djokovic extends unbeaten 2020 record

World number one Novak Djokovic extended his unbeaten record in 2020 to 21 matches as he outclassed Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff.

The 33-year-old Serb, a 17-time major champion, was in imperious form as he won 6-3 6-1 against 34th-ranked Struff.

The only blip saw Djokovic unable to serve out a second-set bagel, but he hit straight back to win in 62 minutes.

Djokovic faces Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in Friday's semi-finals.

"I'm very pleased overall. Until that last game I served very well, I was comfortably hitting the spots and getting free points there," said Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning at the Western and Southern Open
Djokovic is looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title when the US Open starts next week

Eighth seed Bautista Agut, 32, fought back from a set and a break down to knock out Russia's defending champion Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev, seeded third, was outstanding in a one-sided first set before Bautista Agut showed his resilience and quality to win 1-6 6-4 6-3.

"Roberto is consistent and doesn't make many errors, he doesn't drop his level," added Djokovic, who beat Bautista Agut in last year's Wimbledon semi-finals.

"He is probably the most under-rated player in the last five years and deserves more respect than he gets."

The other semi-final will see Milos Raonic take on Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Canadian Raonic fought back from a set down to beat Filip Krajinovic 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5, while Tsitsipas made it through when his opponent Reilly Opelka retired injured in the first set.

American Opelka was leading 6-5 but a right knee injury forced him to quit.

There will be British representation in the men's doubles final after Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski teed up a semi-final against Joe Salisbury and his American playing partner Rajeev Ram.

Murray and Skupski beat Germany's reigning French Open champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies in their quarter-final, while Salisbury and Ram knocked out Argentina's Horacio Zeballos and Spain's Marcel Granollers.

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