Eastbourne International Tennis - Konta hopes green grass of home can inspire success

Johanna Konta has described the Eastbourne International as a state of the art tournament.

The British No 1 will once again take to the famous Devonshire Park courts when the tournament gets underway on Friday (June 22) and will be among the favourites to go one better than she did last year and reach the final.

Johanna Konta reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year before withdrawing through injury B&O PRESS PHOTO

Johanna Konta reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year before withdrawing through injury B&O PRESS PHOTO

“I always look forward to when Eastbourne comes around,” said Konta.

“Obviously, it is the week before Wimbledon but most importantly, I get to come home for a bit and be with mum and dad, sleep in my own bed and have all of those sort of home comforts.

“I think Eastbourne is a really good one. The centre court is beautiful, and it always has a good following with the crowds.”

The Devonshire Park site has undergone a serious redevelopment project the past couple of years and Konta is keen to see the new facilities for herself.

“I am aware of the continuous improvements they have been making. Last year was the first year we had the new permanent structure for the changing room facility.

“I know that a lot of time and money are being put into really making it a state of the art facility and so I am looking forward to seeing what changes they have made this year for myself.”

The 2017 grass court season saw Konta reach the final of Nottingham as well as the semi-finals of both Eastbourne and Wimbledon, and Konta is confident she can replicate that success despite the fact that results have not gone her way in recent months.

Exciting line-up for the tournament.

Konta hasn’t been beyond the second round in her three grand slam appearances since Wimbledon last year.

“2018 has actually gone quite well with the challenges I have been facing,” insisted Konta. Every tournament that I play I am looking to be involved right until the end but there are no easy matches and so you have to really work your way in to that position.

“I do enjoy playing on the grass and so for me it is always a really fun part of the season and obviously as a British player it makes it extra special being able to play in front of a home crowd for a few tournaments in a row.”

Konta vividly remembers the unfortunate injury that occurred at Eastbourne last year, forcing her to pull out at the semi-final stage.

Konta was forced to play Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber on the same day, managing to defeat them both. However, a nasty fall towards the end of the Kerber victory had longer lasting effects.

“Obviously, it was a really unfortunate accident that happened last year, but I feel like I played some good tennis up until that point and making the semi final was a good achievement and also gave me some valuable time on the grass leading up to Wimbledon and it certainly didn’t tarnish my experience of the event,” said Konta.

Konta is also keen to play down the home pressure tag in terms of playing back to back tournaments on the grass in front of crowds who will be largely on her side.

“I don’t see it that way in terms of pressure,” she said. “I just see myself as an incredibly lucky player that gets to play at home for a big chunk of the season and really just try to take the positives out of that.

“It is an exciting proposition for all of the British players to be able to have that home support and home comforts and at the end of the day I can only do the best that I can do, and I am only accountable to myself and I just need to make sure that I have given it all that I have and just keep working.”

See our live blog

See also: Quick guide to the tournament