Konta’s coronation

Johanna Konta’s latest WTA title in Sydney has cemented the Brit as one of tennis’s most prominent forces. Yet her approach to success is somewhat distinct among the game’s eite.

13 January 2017
By Matt Trollope

Midway through 2015, Johanna Konta languished at world No.146.

Now, just 18 months on, the Brit is now entrenched in the top 10 and on Friday night confirmed her status as one of the most dangerous players in the world after romping to the Apia International Sydney title.

The 25-year-old, born in Sydney but who now resides in Eastbourne, straight-setted five quality opponents this week in Sydney to win her second WTA trophy.

She’ll become world No.9 on Monday and is, rightfully, among the favourites for the Australian Open title.

Yet this assessment is simply ours, from the outside looking in. Konta has a different view of her success and where it fits into the wider context of the women’s game.

“I don’t actively associate myself with a ranking or with a position or with results, I associate myself with what I do every day, the things I have control over, and that’s the work I do,” she explained.

“I don’t wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, hey, No.9 (laughter).

“The only person I can really compare myself to is really myself, and that’s the only person I can compete against, and that’s the only person I can hold myself accountable to.

“And I do feel with myself that I am playing a good level. And the way it’s coming through, so far, is it’s been consistent over the last two weeks.

“But it’s no reflection of how the Australian Open will go, it’s no reflection how the year will go, in general.”

Konta’s approach to her tennis, as explained above, is deeply influenced by her practice of mindfulness.

Rather than arrive in Sydney and think about winning the title, she instead focused on what she was doing in any given moment. Her “step-by-step” method saw her enjoying her breakfast in the morning. Appreciating her walk to get lunch. Enjoying sitting in the car listening to her music.

Such a methodical approach is reflected in her progress in the past year and a half.

Rather than be focused on results, rankings, tournaments and opponents, the emphasis has been on her preparation, work ethic and experiences.

“I have been in a very fortunate position to being in lots of situations between last year, Melbourne (where she made the Australian Open semifinals), and now,” she said.

“In a relatively short space of time, I have experienced a lot, so therefore, I’d like to think that I’ve become a bit wiser, a bit more resilient, and a bit more experienced with situations. (There’s) still a long, long way to go, and I think every day, for the rest of my career, I will be accumulating more experiences.

“But I definitely am enjoying my journey, enjoying learning, enjoying getting better every day. I try to be a sponge as much as I can.”

Konta has translated those experiences into greater poise on the game’s biggest stages.

Her clinical dissection of Radwanska, who until Friday owned a sparkling 20-7 record in WTA finals, demonstrated a newfound poise and confidence.

But despite her new position among the game’s elite – she only cracked the top 10 three months ago – the Brit is sticking with the formula that got her to this position.

“I will continue to look after my health, happiness,” she said. “And again, that will give me the best shot at trying to be consistent.”

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