- Thomas Hogstedt has just started working with Johanna Konta
- His views on their first few weeks as she reaches the Western & Southern Open semi-final for the first time
NEW YORK, USA – There might have been a few raised eyebrows at the partnership between British No. 1 Johanna Konta and Thomas Hogstedt, but they may well be birds of a feather.
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Since making her breakthrough in reaching the fourth round of the 2015 US Open, and then the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016, British No. 1 Johanna Konta has been on a bit of a roller-coaster of coaches moving from Esteban Carril to Wim Fissette, Michael Joyce, Dimitri Zavialoff and now Thomas Hogstedt. With big hitters who have coached big personalities, is Hogstedt the magic bullet to get Konta over the line in a Slam?
He told reporters at the Western & Southern Open, being held in New York: “When I was asked to work with her a few weeks ago, I like the kind of personality she is. She likes to work hard and improve.
“She remind[s] me a lot of the players that I had much success with, with Maria Sharapova, Li Na, [Caroline] Wozniacki. So I was very attracted to work with her, and I see how she has worked her way up and like that one.
“It’s a little bit different, always what I like to start with her when you do a pre-season and when you really get a lot of weeks of training. So, this is my first tournament with her here. I was not with her in Lexington. I was with her one week in London and practice and then we had, like, eight days here, which was very good.”
Hogstedt was in London during the raucous atmosphere of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event, so it would be curious to know quite what he made of the sledging, but only joined Konta here in New York, after her first-round loss in Lexington on her return to the tour. Since that faltering start though, this have been emphatically on the up.
“I’m very impressed overall her game, how she step[ped] up on the court, and is very aggressive from beginning. I mean, she was injured end of last year and during the whole long break. So when I saw her in London, she has improved a lot from this level. So I’m very pleased with how she’s improving every match. I thought she played very well, actually all three matches here.”
However, not everyone feels this is a match made in heaven. Laura Robson wondered that Hogstedt’s personality might not gel with Konta’s own, and hinted that two strong personalities would not work.
Konta herself disagreed after her win over Vera Zvonareva.
“Laura doesn’t know me very well and I don’t know her very well. I think she’s just basing that on what she knows of me and maybe her seeing around, which is fair enough.
“I don’t know how well she knows Thomas. I don’t know whether she’s worked with Thomas, […] but I think right now when the name came up with Thomas being available, that was exciting for me, and so that’s why we are here where we are right now.
“I’m taking it kind of day by day, and I’m enjoying getting to know him now. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s had a lot of success with a lot of players. Obviously, that’s going to be for a reason, but it doesn’t always guarantee that obviously certain people match up well.
“I think I’m giving it every opportunity for it to work out well, and I don’t see why it can’t. But then also I’m leaving space for both of us to be ourselves and to make sure it works for both of us.”
Last year, the ‘Coaches Corner’ press conference with Zavialoff showed how confident he had been in her abilities as she made her landmark run to the Roland Garros Semi-finals, and she has now reached that stage at the Australian Open (2016) and Wimbledon (2017) – could 2020 see her go all the way in New York?
Hogstedt continued: “I think she can keep improving her game, but I think she’s mentally very strong. I think she has showed that a lot, and she’s a hard worker. She has a very, I think, interesting history how she came up from the lower level, how she has worked her way the whole way. Many come like young teenagers and they do well in the Grand Slam, and she has really learned. She’s a very smart girl and very humble.
“I’m sure she will have her success, because she’s extremely professional and doing like that one. So I hope when I’m helping her now that I can help. And she has a good team around her with Dan who has been with her now for two years. Also, the coaches that she had before like Dimitri and the other ones did a great job.
“When you’re there in the semi-final of a Grand Slam, you know you can do it. So if you keep giving yourself the chance, it’s going to happen.”
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