Johanna Konta suffered in the stifling heat before recovering to beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Johanna Konta collapsed to her knees midway through her match in stifling heat at the US Open before recovering to record an astonishing and controversial win in three sets over the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. The incident sent a worrying shiver through the tournament as high humidity drained even the fittest players and few are better conditioned than the British No1.
A set up but fading physically towards the end of the second on an exposed outside court, Konta served on set point against her, fell woozily to the ground and was seriously distressed as she grabbed for her breath. For seven minutes she sat on a towel with ice packs wrapped around her before waving away concerned attendants to sit on her courtside chair. She rose unsteadily and returned to double-fault and surrender the set, then left the court to change her clothes before resuming.
Although still breathing hard and looking less than great, Konta conjured a magnificent comeback, full of artful drop shots, lobs and passing shots, to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes. She was so exhausted she could not celebrate. If she is fit, she will play on Friday against the Swiss Belinda Bencic, who beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-2.
Konta, who revealed she had collapsed in similar conditions in the United States four years ago, said, I was feeling a little bit the conditions, and also my own energy levels [crashed]. Basically my heart rate spiked and I couldnt really control my breathing. I started hyperventilating. I started shaking. Thats why I went down on the ground, because I was quite violently shaking.
Because Id experienced it once before I didnt start crying. I dont know if anyones had a panic attack but thats basically what it feels like. Im doing everything I can to recover well and try to get myself into a state to be ready to compete again on Thursday, Friday. I dont know what day it is. I feel quite certain that, with some TLC, Ill be good to go again in a few days time.
Konta denied she had manipulated the situation for an extended break between sets. The medical timeout was right at the end of that second set. I guess it worked out that way but I needed to get changed out of my clothes. I was soaked through. I did the best I could with the cards that I had. My opponent, she was gracious, and she was also very understanding of the situation that was going on.
Pironkova said Konta deserved her win but she described the conditions as: Not that bad compared to other days.
She added: Obviously, she wasnt feeling well. I could see that. When you see the player that youre playing against look like this, that you couldnt stand, its scary, I think. I was hoping she will get through that and that she will be OK.
What was frustrating for me was what happened after that, the toilet break. Because, with that toilet break, I think the match was stopped for just too long. And it was an unfortunate time. I had my momentum going. I was getting back in the match because I had a hard start.
Pironkova did not notice any change in Konta at the end. I couldnt say her game was struggling or anything. She played the same way that she played before.
Kyle Edmund had a way more straightforward route into the third round than his compatriot. The forehand he put beyond the reach of the young American underdog Ernesto Nito Escobedo to win their second-round match was the British players 54th clean winner of the match, his 94th of the tournament.
If the 21-year-old Yorkshireman is to create an even bigger stir by beating John Isner in the third round on Friday, he will need all the gathering strength in that strong, freckled right arm to reach the second week of the tournament.
Edmunds cannon is his forehand and that is where 49 of his winners have come from in the space of three days, with straight-sets wins over the still-dangerous Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Monday and the Californian Escobedo, the wiry 20-year-old son a of Mexican truck driver.
A lot of good things today, Edmund said courtside after winning 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 and before he had heard Isner had beaten the Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis in four sets on Louis Armstrong.