The simple life is the good life for Eastbourne’s rising star Konta

Johanna Konta has greeted the extra attention with a smile
Johanna Konta has greeted the extra attention with a smile
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Keeping life simple within the hectic environment of tournament tennis can’t always be easy but it has proved key to Johanna Konta’s recent success.

The first Grand Slam of the year has been and gone and it became quite a story for Eastbourne’s tennis player.

The British No.1 beat Venus Williams in the opening round of the Australian Open and went on to reach the semi-final, where she was narrowly beaten in two tough sets by eventual winner Angelique Kerber.

Konta banked £400,000 in prize money and became the first British woman to reach the last four of a Grand Slam in more than 30 years.

Her fine form, which seemed to start when she enjoyed an extended run in her home tournament at the Eastbourne International last June, has seen her world ranking rocket from 147 to 28 in less than year.

Many tennis experts predict a top 20 or even a top 10 spot is now well within her grasp.

Success on the court however brings greater demands and the attention received from the world’s media has certainly increased.

Having the commitment, talent and competitive nature to compete on tour is one thing but keeping a level head, dealing with the media and managing time is also vital to continued success on tour.

At 24, Melbourne was the most important tournament of her career to date. Even when bizarre - bordering on unfair - scheduling forced her to play a crucial quarter-final and semi-final on consecutive days, Konta remained calm. “I’d have to be a real princess to complain,” was all Konta said when pressed on the issue.

Jeremy Bates, the former British No. 1 and head of women’s tennis at the LTA, said, “I’ve known Jo for a long time and she’s always been a worker, completely dedicated to the sport. But the big difference is that she has matured with being on the tour, and she has become an awful lot stronger mentally. That takes time to accumulate, because you need experience on the tour.”

Konta, born in Sydney to Hungarian parents, even refused to be ruffled as Australian reporters repeatedly tried to claim her as ‘one of their own.’

Speaking to the Herald Sport earlier this week, Konta said, “It is about keeping things as simple as possible. Some things I can control and that’s what I work on. Being on the other side of the world made it slightly easier. I was not aware too much of what was happening back home and I didn’t get too involved in social media while I was there.

“It seemed at every press conference, I was being asked about it (being Australian). All I can say is that I have played the majority of my tennis in Britain and I’m proud to be from Eastbourne and represent Great Britain. I can’t control what they say or what is written.

“Overall it was a good tournament for me, especially after I had two losses before Melbourne. But I stayed true to what I needed to do and luckily it went well.”

Next up for Konta will be the Acapulco hard-court tournament in Mexico on February 22 before moving on to the Indian Wells Masters in California.

But before these tournaments, and in between her training, the public are eager to hear more about their British No.1 making waves in the tennis world.

Features in the national press are more common and a recent appearance on the Clare Balding show alongside Ricky Hatton, the former light-welterweight world champion, and Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper, will heighten her profile.

Konta though, as she has done throughout her career, remains down to earth and cheerful.

“I have been recognised a few times in Eastbourne (since the Australian Open) but nobody has completely flipped out. Things remain very much the same.”