Britain’s number 1 and Sports Personality of the Year nominee, Johanna Konta looks to former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce to turn round poor end of season form at the start of a new one.
Joyce’s key task centres on building the Brit’s confidence, putting behind her the disappointment of missing out on the WTA Finals, again. Caroline Garcia benefitted last season, after Konta withdrew from the Kremlin Cup through injury. The Brit’s mind wasn’t in the right place, either.
Halep’s revenge for Wimbledon loss started the rut
The run of poor form started in Cincinnati, when Simona Halep avenged her Wimbledon loss to Konta, winning their quarterfinal encounter. Defeats to Strycova at Pan Pacific and Krunic in the US Open, were topped by a defeat against dangerous Aussie, Ashleigh Barty at Wuhan Open. This was trumped by a crushing defeat at the hands of Romanian, Monica Niculescu, losing 6-1, 6-2 at the China Open.
The Brit looked lifeless and out of ideas, making 38 unforced errors. Niculescu looked stunned as to how straight forward it was. This represented the biggest hint yet – that focus has been lacking in Konta of late. Her new coach needs to address this and fast.
Konta’s Wimbledon victory over Halep broke a ratings record. It was the most watched ladies tennis match on British television. Britain needs Konta back on form.
Konta’s had no Luck with the Draws, but that’s no Excuse
The first match is always nervous for a seed, as they look to get a competitive feel for the surface. Konta has not been helped by the draws. Strycova would be a worthy quarterfinal/semifinal opponent in most draws. Ashleigh Barty was one of the trickiest floaters in the Wuhan draw. Konta still has the game to make short work of both of these opponents.
The disappointment of losing to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semifinal, has evidently taken its toll. The excitement and expectation was palpable in the build up to that match. The Brit’s confidence has clearly taken a big knock. However, for someone of Konta’s calibre, she is only a few wins away from returning to the dangerous player who swooped to the title in Miami.
Brisbane Represents a Tough Opening Tournament
Wimbledon Champion Garbine Murguraza and Karolina Pliskova are amongst a strong field standing in Konta’s way next week. The Brisbane International. The dangerous Madison Keys is returning from injury. It’s a tough tournament for a player struggling for form and confidence, as well just finding her feet with a new coach. A few victories would galvanise her ahead of the first Slam of the year, arguably her best Slam.
A Good Australian Open Showing would be just the Tonic
With the Australian Open 2018 fast approaching. Konta will be ultra-keen to harness her recent good record in the event, sending out a message that she is back on form. A semi-final berth in 2016, it took a devastatingly good Serena Williams to halt Konta’s progress in the last eight in 2017. Konta comfortably swept aside Caroline Wozniacki, en route to her Serna collision. This form seems a lifetime away now, but it happened. Konta and Joyce need to dig deep to rediscover that cutting edge.