Johanna Konta collapsed to her knees while serving midway through her match in stifling heat here before recovering to record an astonishing 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. She received courtside attention for seven minutes, sitting on a towel with ice applied to all of her body, before waving away concerned attendants. She rose unsteadily, somehow gathered her energy and returned to double-fault and surrender the set, then left the court briefly before resuming.
Remarkably, she found the spark and focus to break and hold in the third as Pironkova struggled to find the required ruthlessness to finish off her stricken opponent. Konta was revived enough to hunt down several drop shots and gradually worked her way back into the match, although she was still red-faced, her eyes bloodshot, and breathing hard.
A wondrous chip, chase and drive down the line took her to 3-1, and, after what obviously was the toughest struggle of her career, she went on to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes. Konta was so exhausted she could not even celebrate. If she is fit, she will play on Friday against the Swiss Belinda Bencic, who beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-2.
Kyle Edmund had a much more straightforward route into the third round than his compatriot. The forehand he put beyond the reach of the young American underdog Ernesto Escobedo to win the second-round match was the British player’s 54th clean winner of the match, his 94th of the tournament.
And, 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 first weekend of the tournament, which might turn out to be a pivotal achievement in his career.
Edmund’s 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 Richard Gasquet on Monday and the Californian Escobedo, the wiry 20-year-old son a of Mexican truck driver, who qualified for a place in the main draw of his home major through the USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge.
“A lot of good things today,” Edmund said courtside after winning 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 – and before he had heard that Isner had beaten the Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis in four sets on Louis Armstrong. Parked on the outer courts in the first two rounds, Edmund is surely headed for a big show court against the American on Friday.
“It was a much cleaner match [against Gasquet],” he said, “but this match was more about toughing out a lot of longer rallies. When it really counted, I stayed tough. I’m investing a lot of time in my fitness. I had to push a bit more, to force myself to get to balls. He fought to the last ball, you have to really dig deep. I’m pleased it has been two straight sets matches.”
Edmund, whose roots are in South Africa and upbringing in the East Ridings market town of Beverley, went about his work confident his fitness levels could carry him through a long match in the heat.