Miami triumph puts Konta in tennis world spotlight

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
MIAMI
Published 02.04.2017 22:11

Johanna Konta's days of flying under the radar are numbered now that the Briton has bagged her biggest title yet at the Miami Open. The 25-year-old will rise to a career-high seventh in the world rankings next week after a start to the year in which she won in Sydney, reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and then claimed her first premier mandatory tournament on the hard courts of Key Biscayne. Konta recently noted that the success of world number one Andy Murray in the men's game has kept the attention and pressure of the media and fans in Britain away from her, but she can be sure that the level of expectation will rise sharply ahead of this year's Wimbledon.

Former leading British women's player Sam Smith, now a television analyst, told reporters that while Konta may not yet be aware of how her status in British sport is about to change, she is confident Konta can handle what is coming her way.

"Someone needs to tell her ‘Jo it is going to be different' but you know what, I think she will handle it. I think she will probably speak to Andy as well, because it is going to be really big if she continues this upward progression," Smith said.

Murray's advice, if requested, will no doubt be forthcoming and, given the Scotsman has come through years of hype around Wimbledon, sage. Smith's confidence in Konta's ability to cope with the attention is largely based on the Sydney-born player's evident intelligence, professionalism and calmness.

But those qualities, essential though they are, do not weaken in any way Konta's drive and ambition to get to the very top in the sport.

"I think I've always had the belief of wanting to become a Grand Slam champion, wanting to become the best in the world," Konta said after downing former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the Miami final on Saturday. "I think that stays throughout, with every player I imagine, their career. Without that, I don't think it makes the victories as sweet or, I think, the defeats as motivating. I think that stays.""I just want to work and try to really bring out in myself the most that I have. Wherever that gets me that's where it will get me, but hopefully the day I hang up my racquets I will be able to say that I really maximized my full ability and gave everything inside me."

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