As recent winner of her first WTA Tour final Johanna Konta’s meteoric rise shows it’s all in the mind

Johanna Konta of Great Britain reacts after winning the final against Venus Williams of the United States during day seven of the Bank of the West Classic at the Stanford University Taube Family Tennis Stadium on July 24, 2016 in Stanford, California. Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

A year ago, Johanna Konta was not even ranked in the top 125.

Four years after her first appearance on the WTA Tour, she was still labouring through the ITF circuit, playing in minor tournaments.

A year ago, in the fourth week of July, the Australian-born Brit was stationed in the nondescript Canadian town of Granby, playing a C$50,000 (Dh139,116) ITF tournament.

She won that tournament, but who would have thought Konta would rise to No14 in the rankings over the ensuing 12 months and defeat Venus Williams, a former world No 1, in her first WTA Tour final.

Konta’s rise is sort of a fairy tale, a success story that almost beggars belief, for she was hardly the child prodigy destined to rise through the ranks. But as she said following her Stanford triumph, her first title was a “validation of all the hard work you’ve already put in and a motivator on the things you want to keep improving on”.

• WTA: Johanna Konta overcomes Venus Williams in Stanford for first title

Konta has been trying to do just that and the presence of a mind coach has certainly helped. For although she always had the game, her nerves kept letting her down at the important moments.

The tide really turned at last year’s US Open when, as a qualifier ranked No 97 in the world, Konta stunned the then world No 9 Garbine Muguruza in the second round and then took the fight to No 4 Petra Kvitova in a fourth-round defeat.

Those two matches undoubtedly gave her confidence a boost, but there was no indication of a turnaround as Konta lost in the opening round of her first two tournaments of 2016. And, to make matters worse, she found herself facing Williams in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Konta had never beaten a top-10 player before, but she managed to stun Williams 6-4, 6-2, and the momentum of that win carried her into the semi-finals of the Australian Open, where she lost to eventual champion Angelique Kerber.

The first British woman to reach the last four of a grand slam in 33 years, Konta has continued her rise since and Stanford could be the first of many titles.

And do not be surprised if, before the end of this season, Konta, 25, becomes the first British woman to break into the top 10 since Jo Durie did in 1984.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at