The Rise & Rise Of Johanna Konta

May 02, 2017

- Grant Whittington

Following her crushing defeat of Caroline Wozniacki in the Miami Open, Johanna Konta continued her ascendancy to the summit of women’s tennis as she declared her intent to chase down the elite in Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.

The British number one has enjoyed an incredible climb to her current position of seven in the world rankings and in just under two years has risen from 150 to become an established top ten force on the WTA circuit. It seems likely she’ll be winning tournaments sooner rather than later and new bookies such as Betclic are worth taking a look at to compare odds with more well known brands.

Capable of hitting outright winners from anywhere on the court, Konta has the necessary aggression and offensive groundstrokes to take the match out of her opponent’s hands and onto her racket. The statistics from the biggest win of her career are a powerful reminder of what she brings to the baseline – the 25-year-old annihilated Wozniacki in the ‘clean winners’ department by 33 to eight. Having the ability to dictate play against a former world number one in Wozniacki is proof that Konta can mix it with the very best.

Her dreams of becoming the leading light on the ladies tour could transform into reality if she is able to maintain her superb start to the season in which she stands third only to Karolina Pliskova and Wozniacki. She made the last-eight in Melbourne and 12 months previously became the first British female player to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final in 32 years.

In Konta’s own words, her upward journey has been fuelled by frequent examinations of her maturity. “I needed to go through certain life experiences, and not just on the court, to make me into the competitor that I am, and also the person.” This self-belief was evident in Miami during her quarter-final victory over third seed Simona Halep when she was twice within two points of defeat, but was able to find a way to overcome the Romanian in three hard-fought sets.

Despite no longer being the ‘official’ queen of tennis, there is no doubt amongst the playing contingent that Serena Williams still remains top dog when it comes to the major tournaments. Even at 35 years of age, the formidable American is still a force to be reckoned with and is showing no sign of letting up in her hunt to overtake Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles title.

However, Serena’s dominance must surely start to evaporate at some stage? There’s certainly a chance for those behind Williams to give it a go, following Serena’s break from the game to have children.

Alongside Pliskova and Kerber, Konta remains one of a handful of women who appear capable of matching the raw vigour and relentless attack of Williams. She has one of the biggest serves in the women’s game and we should remind ourselves that she is still to enter the peak years of her career.

Make no mistake; jumping from Miami Open winner to Grand Slam queen is still a giant leap – just look at how many cracks of the whip it took Andy Murray to finally break his final curse. Konta has already ticked off six matches at one major, but winning a magnificent seven is still going to be a monumental challenge, and that reflects in the odds too. Konta lies at 8/1 to win Wimbledon according to Ladbrokes tennis odds, while the French open gives her a 14/1 shot of winning.

Her present performances and results are all the more remarkable given she had never tasted success in a Grand Slam encounter until the 2012 US Open. It is important that we do not get carried away with Konta’s acceleration which almost puts the concept of fast-tracking into slow motion. After all, the majority of her success has come on hard courts so it will be intriguing how she fares on the red dirt over the upcoming weeks.

Despite her roots in Australia, Konta has given British tennis fans a new wave of optimism in the absence of Murray as she revels in the most significant title to be claimed by a British woman since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon 40 years ago.

It remains to be seen whether she can she go one step further up the tennis pyramid, but Konta’s spectacular rise is proof that dedication and sacrifice can turn the impossible into the possible. She may not know it yet, but the hard work starts now.

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