Sunday, 5 December 2021

Konta ‘facing challenges’ after poor start to year

Johanna Konta

SYDNEY: Johanna Konta admitted she was facing “challenges” at the start of the season but insisted she would take the positives after injury and an early defeat cast a cloud over her Australian Open preparations.

The British world number nine, who made the Melbourne Park semis in 2016 and the quarters last year, was bundled out of the Sydney International in the first round by Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday.

It followed her withdrawal from the Brisbane International quarter-finals with a right-hip injury.

While her hip held up against Radwanska, whom she beat in last year’s Sydney final, Konta was ultimately undone by 44 unforced errors.

“The positives I’m taking from the match is that my hip was good, I’m healthy,” said the Sydney-born player, who is a fan favourite in Australia.

“And it was a positive for me to have such a challenging match so early in the season.”

She added that there were “still a lot of challenges that I will be facing these next few weeks, and to really try and find the way that I want to play. I’m also actually looking forward to that”.

Konta split with coach Wim Fissette in October and ended her 2017 season early with a foot injury, in a disappointing finale to a campaign which had seen her reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Under Fissette’s tutelage, she won the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open last April and reached a career-high fourth in the world rankings.

She is now with new coach Michael Joyce, and she said they had made an encouraging start in their partnership.

“Obviously it’s early days and we’ve only just started really getting to know each other. But I’m really enjoying his company, really enjoying his approach to the game,” she said.

“He coaches with a lot of compassion and empathy, and just understands, being a former player himself. I think there are a lot of good things I can take from him.”

Heading into the Australian Open, she insisted she felt “good” despite the early season troubles.

“It is important for me to still keep a good perspective,” she said.

“I’m still rebuilding myself as a player a little but I feel excited to play in Melbourne. I’m good, the hip felt fine.”

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