Title favourite Serena Williams hailed Johanna Konta as a future Australian Open champion after ending the Briton’s dazzling run in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Williams, who is seeking an Open-era record 23rd grand slam crown, overpowered Konta 6-2, 6-3 to set up a semi-final against unseeded Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
It halted Konta’s run of nine consecutive wins without dropping a set and prevented her from equalling last year’s run to the last four, although the 25-year-old did enough to impress Williams.
“Johanna Konta has been playing so well,” said the 35-year-old. “I was in the locker room watching her clean up her matches. She is a future champion here for sure, so I am pleased to get through this.”
An emotional Konta called her defeat to Williams “one of the best experiences of my life” and welcomed her opponent tipping her for further success.
“That’s nice – I will do my best,” she said. “There are so many things I can learn from that, so many things I can look to improve on, also acknowledge some things that I did well. She played an almost perfect first set. She just showed why she is who she is.”
Forgotten prodigy Lucic-Baroni back in spotlight
Lucic-Baroni, meanwhile, continued her own Australian Open fairytale by ending her 18-year wait to reach a second grand slam semi-final with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over fifth seed Karolina Pliskova.
“I feel a little bit in shock,” said the 34-year-old, a former junior world No1 whose career was derailed by family and financial problems.
“I know this means a lot to every player but to me this is overwhelming, this has truly made my life and everything bad that has happened okay."