Home comforts help Johanna Konta deal with summer spotlight

“It’s a case of dealing with it one step and one match at a time,” Johanna Konta says as she prepares for her home town tournament in Eastbourne before the intense spotlight of Wimbledon.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 1:57 pm
EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Johanna Konta of Great Britain reacts during her match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during day six of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park on June 27, 2018 in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) SUS-191006-094634002

All eyes are on Konta at this time of the season and even more so this year, following her unexpected extended run to the semi-finals at the French Open.

It’s the third time in her career she has reached the last four of a Grand Slam and with Andy Murray still easing his way back following a hip operation, hopes of British success in the singles at Wimbledon this summer rest largely with Konta.

The British No 1 has of course sampled success at Wimbledon. In 2017 Konta reached the semi-final and her epic quarter-final victory against Simona Halep was seen by a record 7.4 million viewers on the BBC.

That year she was the last British player standing as an injured Murray, who was the defending champion, and top seed, was defeated by Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals.

Despite her second round loss at Birmingham, Konta arrives at Eastbourne match ready. She won 15 times during the clay season, which more than doubled her career tally.

“I am happy with what we have achieved recently and we can take many positives. It’s been a combination of different things. There is no magic switch but what we are doing is working well. I have played plenty of matches and I feel good coming into the grass season.

“Eastbourne and then Wimbledon is a special time in the calender for me. Not many tennis players have the luxury of just driving to their matches and at Eastbourne I also get to stay with my parents, who still have a place there. To spend time with family and get to play at the same time is a great thing and I feel very lucky to have that.”

Konta reached the semi-final of her home tournament in 2017. That year she beat the then World No 1 Angelique Kerber and reigning French Open champion Jeļena Ostapenko in the same day. She did however fall badly against Kerber and was forced to withdraw from her semi-final. “Eastbourne is a great place to play and I have had some incredible matches. The reception I receive from the crowd is great and the courts are fantastic. I’m sure it will be a good challenge for me once again this year and one that I’m looking forward to.”

World No 3 Simona Halep, French Open champion Ashleigh Barty and world No 2 and 2017 Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova will also be in action at Devonshire Park. Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and 2015 champ Belinda Bencic have also confirmed. British No 2 Cameron Norrie will contest in the men’s draw.

Britain’s Kyle Edmund was knocked out of Queen’s 6-3 7-5 in the first round by Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and could feature as a wildcard in the men’s singles at Eastbourne.

Serena Williams however is unlikely to appear at Devonshire Park.