Konta looking ahead to Wimbledon full of confidence

Konta looking ahead to Wimbledon full of confidence
By Sportsbeat

20/06/2017 at 11:03

For the first time in her career, a trip to Wimbledon comes with expectations for Johanna Konta, especially after her performances in Nottingham last week.

But if there were any thoughts about the pressure of the Championships taking a hit on her preparations, the British No.1 insists nothing could be further from the truth.

Last season saw Konta win a singles match at Wimbledon for the first time, reaching the second round at the fifth attempt thanks to victory over Monica Puig, as she finally put behind her a wretched record at her home major.

But, with Australian Open semi-final and quarter-final results from the past two years now on her copybook, the tide has changed for April's Miami Open champion.

A current No.8 world ranking gives Konta, who missed out on the chance of winning a first tournament on home soil on Sunday as she lost the final of the Nottingham Open to the unseeded Donna Vekic, the mantle of one of the favourites for a long run next month.

That's despite her early French Open exit – though the 26-year-old is adamant that is not a tag weighing her down in the Wimbledon countdown.

"I would have loved to be involved in the French Open longer than I was, but as the clay season went on I improved with every single match that I played," said Konta, speaking at the 2017 Jaguar Championships National Final at David Lloyd Raynes Park, on Saturday.

"But I enjoyed it, took a lot of positives out of it for my game with the way I was competing, and hopefully I'll be able to apply that for the grass season and the whole season in general.

"All I can do is give my best every day that I play, Wimbledon is no different to that – I go out there to compete, leave it all out there and just hope to be involved as long as possible.

"But so long as I felt that I grew as a player, however far that gets me, I'll be able to really look at that as a positive, so in that regard expectations are no different than before.

"Wimbledon holds a special place for us Brits, being at home, not many people get to do that so it's a great opportunity to play in front of a home crowd."

Konta's rise through the ranks is well-versed, becoming the first British female in more than 30 years to reach the world top ten – just 18 months after being ranked 150th in the world.

But, with three WTA tour singles titles as well as her Miami crown to celebrate, there's a feeling there is still more to come on the big stage.

That could come in the shape of a first Grand Slam quarter-final outside of Australia for the Sydney-born star, with her childhood dream still on its journey as opposed to its final destination.

She added: "I've always believed in my own ability. I had a dream since I was a little girl of being the best in the world, and that is something I seriously work towards so long as I'm playing.

"In that sense, it's not a surprise [progressing through the rankings], but at the same time it's not something I expected, it's somewhere in between.

"Miami was clearly a stepping stone in that, but it sits aside some of the losses – they shape me into being a better competitor.

"It's important to keep in mind there are a lot of great players out there. I believe in my own ability and the good things I bring to the court, but you have to recognise that you are playing against someone who has sacrificed just as much and is out there to win just like you."

Sportsbeat 2017