ByRos Satar, in Indian Wells
- British No. 1 and World No. 11 Johanna Konta reveals plans for US spring swing
- Feels her tennis is getting back to its best
- Indian Wells, Miami and the clay transition in Charleston on the schedule
INDIAN WELLS, USA – British No. 1 and World No. 11 Johanna Konta is still chasing perfection as the US spring rolls around.
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Since her breakthrough year in 2016, where Johanna Konta flew through the rounds at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-final and losing to the eventual champion Angelique Kerber, she has always been adamant to underline this was no overnight sensation.
In fact, the signs were there with a solid run to the fourth round of the US open the year before, and some good performances on (literally) home turf at Eastbourne and when things came together, it was easy for everyone to assume that level would stay, especially as Konta edged into first the Top 10, and then reached a career high of No. 4 in the world last year, following reaching the Wimbledon semi-final last year.
However, despite claiming titles in Stanford in 2016, and in Sydney and Miami under Wim Fissette after partnering with the acclaimed Belgian coach at the end of 2016, the partnership came to a surprising end at the end of 2017, shortly after Konta’s formed dipped to run of five straight losses from mid-August.
Perhaps it was inevitable that she would seek a different voice, joining foreces with Michael Joyce, a former player and coach of (most notably) Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. In Melbourne, she explained how his perspective as a player was something that she found especially helpful, rather than a focus of technique.
She said, after her first match win against Madison Brengle in Melbourne: “I really like his perspective and the way how actually — he seems to always be able to say the right thing at the right time, and I think it’s because all of the intuition he coaches with but also he understands prematch jitters, he understands different thoughts that might go through your head at different stages of a match or leading into a tournament. So I think he’s quite in tune with ebbs and flows of those sorts of things, so he’s able to guide me in a positive direction.”
She started her season with an exhibition in Thailand – and although she lost the opener to World No. 1 Simona Halep, she snapped her losing streak, and admitted with a laugh in her pre-tournament press conference before the Australian Open that it had been a meaningful win.
“I did win a match before, though, in Thailand, so… No one remembers that one (smiling). It meant a lot to me, though.”
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Coming to America
Ahead of the US ‘spring swing’ Konta outlined some of the challenges she has faced over the past few months.
“I play Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston so this is a long trip but it’s one of the best trips of the year. We go to really beautiful places and they’re all great tournaments so I’m happy to be here and it’s a trip I always really look forward to.
“Results wise things haven’t always gone my way this year but from a personal point of view and in terms of where my tennis is at, it’s definitely been a great start to the year. I had a lot of things that I wasn’t happy with at the end of last year that I needed to get right and I feel like I’m now getting my tennis back to where I want it to be. I’m happy to be healthy, first and foremost, but I’m also happy with where I’m at with my tennis and with my career.”
Konta has become more relaxed in her press conferences over the past year – being very much more in focus since Andy Murray‘s injury woes that has kept him off the court since Wimbledon last year. She adopted the mantle of being the great British hope at SW19 readily.
Despite a far earlier than expected exit in Australia, she did help to get Great Britain into the Fed Cup World group play-offs later this year.
“There have been times this year where I’ve played at a really, really high level. Fed Cup was a big personal highlight and a fantastic week for us as a team. I played well in Dubai and Doha and I lost close matches to players who were having great weeks. When I played Angie (Kerber) I think she’d lost one match all year and I had match points against Kasatkina so I was right in that match as well.
“What we’re working on now is sustaining that really high level all the way through three sets and for however long it takes. That’s the next step and I feel like we’re really making some progress with that.”
Konta will play Marketa Vondrousova in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, after receiving a bye in the opening round.
(Main Image Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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