When Jo Durie reached the French Open semi-finals out of the blue

first_imgShare on Messenger Share on Facebook Jo Durie beat Tracey Austin 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in the quarter-finals. Photograph: Jacques Langevin/AP Twitter Missed volleys led to indecision on going to the net; passing shots failed where before they succeeded; and Jausovec began to dominate. Durie hung in there, though, coming from 3-5 down to level things at 5-5. But when she let a 30-15 lead slip in the crucial 11th game, double-faulting to go 6-5 down, she was in big trouble.After losing the second set 7-5, Durie was blown away 6-2 in the decider, giving Jausovec the opportunity to lose to Chris Evert in the final. Durie was not done at the tournament though; she made it to the last four in the women’s doubles with Anne Hobbs, but also fell short of that final. So near and yet so far.When asked about whether nerves had affected her against Jausovec, Durie was adamant that she had not choked. “I was losing my way. I was a bit confused about what I was trying to do,” Durie explained. “I don’t think I blew it, but I realise I am just not tough enough with myself.” Jones spoke like a coach who knew his player had let an opportunity slip: “I don’t think Jo really knows how close she was to winning, but this will do her good.”She would never again get past the third round at Roland Garros, but a semi-final appearance in the 1983 US Open and a quarter-final at Wimbledon in 1984 gave British tennis fans something to cheer in an otherwise bleak decade. Her run to the semi-finals also assured her of a top-20 place in the world rankings – a lot higher than she charted with Wimbledon Lawns, the single she recorded with the backing band The Rackets. It did not even trouble the top 100.• This article appeared first on That 1980s Sports Blog• Follow Steven Pye on Twitter “I kept my head during that dispute,” she said later. “It would have been easy to panic, but I knew I just had to keep in control because she wasn’t doing anything I felt could hurt me.” Putting the moment behind her, Durie capitalised on several unforced errors from Austin and won the third set in just 22 minutes.“I feel fantastic,” said Durie after her victory in the quarter-final. “I haven’t got the words to really describe my emotion. Just look at my grin.” She even found time to joke about her wobble in the second set: “I lost the second because I needed the clay court practice.”“I still can’t believe it,” admitted her coach Alan Jones. “I always reckoned by the time she was 25 she might have a shout on grass. Now at 22 she plays like this on clay.” Having never gone further than the second round, Durie was now just one victory away from the French Open final. “Durie breathed life and hope back into the ailing body of British tennis in the warm Parisian sunshine yesterday,” wrote David Irvine in the Guardian.For the first time in her French Open run, Durie was not facing an American. Yugoslavia’s Mima Jausovec had only beaten one seed on her way to the semi-finals, but her clay court pedigree was not in doubt. She had won the French Open in 1977, reached the final in 1978, and also won the German and Italian Open on clay.However, Durie did not let Jausovec’s reputation get to her, once again storming out of the blocks. Conceding just six points in her opening five service games, Durie won the first set 6-3. When she went 2-0 up in the second, the final was within touching distance.It was never going to be that easy, though. Jausovec was streetwise and she started to change the pattern of play, forcing Durie to make the running. From 2-0 down, Jausovec won nine consecutive points and doubts started to flow into Durie’s game. The past is indeed a foreign country. Before Johanna Konta’s exploits at Roland Garros this week, the last British woman to reach a French Open semi-final was Jo Durie in 1983. Things looked very different in the spring of 1983. Manchester City had just been relegated, Brighton had almost beaten Manchester United in the FA Cup final, Aberdeen had just lifted a European trophy and a female Prime Minister was about to increase her majority in a general election.Durie’s previous appearances at Roland Garros didn’t suggest a run to the semi-finals was likely. She had never gone further than the second round in her three previous visits to the French Open so was only hoping to win “a round or two” in 1983. The draw handed her a relatively sedate start. She began with a 6-4 6-3 win over Candy Reynolds and then lost just three games against Alycia Moulton in the second round.Durie’s next opponent, fifth seed Pam Shriver, looked more daunting. The 22-year-old had never beaten Shriver in their seven previous encounters, but the American was making her debut in the French Open and Durie took charge from the start. With Durie 4-2 up in the first set, the match was delayed for six minutes after Shriver, playing in a pair of trainers borrowed from compatriot Eliot Teltscher, turned her ankle. Durie won the next two games to close out the first set before Shriver conceded the match.Another American – and another seed – awaited in the next round. Kathy Rinaldi succeeded where her counterparts had failed in taking a set off of Durie, but the Bristolian clinched the decider 6-1 to set up a quarter-final with Tracy Austin. Austin’s flame was beginning to burn out, injuries and the constant tennis treadmill having an impact, But Durie’s 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 victory in 94 minutes was stunning nonetheless. Hitting winners in eight of the first nine points, Durie came out of the traps flying. In just 25 minutes, Britain’s No 1 was already a set up.The second set seemed to be running just as smoothly. Serving at 4-3 up, Durie thought she had moved within a game of the match when an Austin shot was called out. But when the decision was overruled by the umpire, Durie was furious. Losing her cool, she disputed the point for two minutes. She lost that game, and then the next two, and suddenly her temperament was under scrutiny. Johanna Konta Support The Guardian Guardian Sport Network Topics features Share on WhatsApp French Opencenter_img Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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