Johanna Konta’s rise up the rankings over the past 2 years has been a great story for British Tennis at a time when the other women had been having mixed fortunes. Heather Watson’s ranking has varied wildly while Laura Robson has been struck by injury time and time again and is currently having to slog away in ITF $100,000 tournaments with varying levels of success.
For many, it seemed like she was a solid player who took advantage to earn a spot in the top 10 but when it came to the deep end of slams she would not be a continuous contender. In fairness, she is yet to show that with just one journey past the 4th round of a slam so far in her career – the 2016 Australian Open semi final run that announced her on the biggest stage. That hasn’t deterred the oddsmakers though, who in some places are putting her as the third favourite to win Wimbledon after Karolina Pliskova and two time champion Petra Kvitova. No Serena Williams means that all players are on notice and should be buoyed by Jelena Ostapenko’s dream run in Paris. While Kvitova and Azarenka are now making their returns over long absences, the 2 week slog that is a grand slam may hinder them in ways that it would not for he ultra fit Konta.
It is for that reason that she is not concerned by the damage that playing all weeks of the grass season could do. “I mean I train very hard to be able to withstand a lot of matches. But again, I think if we are at that stage, I’m pretty sure that’s also a very good problem.” she commented. She was a finalist in Nottingham last week, suffering a surprise loss to Donna Vekic in three sets.
It’s the type of match you would expect a grand slam contender to win but she won’t be the last player to suffer a shock final loss in a warmup tournament. Overall though, it was a productive week for Konta who will hope to go one better this time round. “I think I actually played a lot of really good grass court players as well. So I’m quite pleased on how I was able to deal with some of the challenges they were throwing at me. And I think overall it was also nice to play a few matches in succession. I hadn’t done that in a little while. So overall I felt it was a positive week for me and also a great week from which to learn from.”
The booming serve of last year’s semi finalist Coco Vandeweghe does offer a different threat to those she had to deal with last week. Backed by a favourable crowd, Konta will fancy her chances against the American but will need to improve from her last performance against Lesia Tsurenko, whom she toughed out a straight sets win against. “I’ve always said that I actually — I love playing in front of people. Whether the crowd is for me or against me, I think most importantly we are entertainers. People pay to come watch us perform and give them hopefully a good match. So that’s always a nice feeling when people are around and they’re there to watch you give your best. And I think that’s really how I feel about crowds. I just like it if there are people around.” she said.