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Wimbledon 2019 Ladies Tennis Report • In Depth On Jo Konta British Star Beats Kvitova

By Alix Ramsay


In Britain we want blood. To be more precise, in Fleet Street – where all the national newspapers used to be based – we want blood.


Well done, you, for getting to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. Well done for beating Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Well done for getting to the last eight in your second successive grand slam event.


But enough of the tennis; what about you? If you could just give us a glimpse into your inner self that would be great. If you wish to discuss your personal life, all the better. Tell us what makes you tick. If you can’t do that, give us something off-beat or quirky. And if you could do that in a pithy phrase or two, ones that might make a decent headline, we will be in business.


But Johanna Konta cannot do any of the above. Well, she can beat Kvitova but as for the rest, not so much. Because Jo-Ko is simply not made that way. Still, if she keeps winning, we will back her to the hilt just the same because for the second time in two years, she treading a path at Wimbledon not trodden by a Brit since Virginia Wade more than 40 years ago.


For the second match running, Jo-Ko took on a player who could beat her at her own game (big, clean hitting, big clean serving) and she came back from a set down to win. For the second match running, she had had her hopes all but squashed but refused to be beaten. And for the second match running, she had looked tight in certain moments but had shrugged off the tension and found a way to win.


“I think there was very little in the first set to begin with,” she explained. “She started playing very well. She also has the capability to just play incredibly well. Her game style really lends itself to being very dangerous on this surface. I knew going into it there will be big pockets of the match where I will have very little say in it, whether it’s going for me or against me.


“I actually thought I did quite well in that first set to stay with her. Yeah, down to a couple points of why I lost that first set. I felt I kind of kept that going, tried to stay there with her. Then I definitely felt like I gained a bit more momentum than her. I just felt I went with that.


“Overall I’m just pleased that I competed well. Also towards the end I thought I had good perspective because she started playing very freely. I mean, the balls were coming through quick.


“Just happy I was able to keep a good perspective and just enjoy competing against her because she’s very tough to play on this surface. I’m really pleased with that.”

Johanna Konta of Britain (R) at the net with Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic whom she defeated in their fourth round match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 08 July 2019. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES

And that is about as close as any of us are allowed to get to the Konta psyche. We know she has a boyfriend – Jackson – we know she likes to cook and bake and we know that she is besotted with her dog, Bono. And that’s it.


But if that is what keeps the Jo-Ko bandwagon on track, then so be it. If it works for her, it will have to work for us because the way she is playing at the moment, she will take some stopping.


To say that Konta likes to micromanage every aspect of her life is to state the bleedin’ obvious. Her old buzzword was “process”: everything was part of the “process”. Winning was part of the “process” because it gave her another chance to play another match. Losing was part of the “process” because she could learn from defeat and become a better player and a better person.


But the “process” has now evolved into “acceptance”. When the going gets tough she “accepts” the situation, she doesn’t panic over it or become despondent, she just “accepts” and moves on.


While she is able to do this, she can hit heights that other players dread. Dropped serve? Lost a set? Hit the reset button and begin again. And that is what she has been doing for the past couple of rounds. She was too good and too strong for her first two opponents – not need to reset there – but when she was backed into a corner by Sloane Stephens on Saturday and Kvitova on Manic Monday, the eternally upbeat Jo-Ko “accepted”, reset and galloped into the last eight.


There she will meet Barbora Strycova, the 33-year-old Czech, who did in the No.21 seed Elise Mertens 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Monday.


They have met once before, back in 2017 in Tokyo, and Strycova won. But that was after Konta’s run the Wimbledon semi-finals and in the period when she was grinding to a halt due to burn-out.


Last year was hardly stellar but the rebuilding work started at the end of the season when she teamed up with Dimitri Zavialoff. The new coaching input rejuvenated her and by April of this year, she was on the way back to her best. By then, she had gone through the “process” and started to “accept”.


And we in the press bunker will have to accept that that is just the way of it. There will be no in-depth exclusive from Jo-Ko, not now, not ever. That is not the way she works. But is she could get to the final or, whisper it who dare, actually win, we won’t need much by way of quotes. We will already have a back page headline to treasure.

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