Rogers Cup Montreal: Johanna Konta ‘grateful and humbled’ by her winning ways
The world no14 reflects on her recent success at the Stanford Premier
A measure of how far Johanna Konta has come was writ large across the WTA website after the Briton played one of the matches of her career to win the Stanford Premier against home favourite and former champion, Venus Williams.
There it is in the headline: Champions Corner, Konta.
For not only was this a first Premier title for the woman now riding at a career-high No14. It was the first title of any kind from her first final. Such is the progress that the mildly- and thoughtfully-spoken 25-year-old has made in the last 12 months, for less than a year ago she was barely into the top 100 and she faced qualifying for the US Open.
But those 470 points have done something more: They have catapulted her into a qualifying place of No8 in the Road to Singapore rankings, the Road trod by only the elite women at the end of the season.
Her success, then, warranted the extended interview accorded her by the WTA Insider this week, an interview that summed up the composure gained by Konta courtesy of a sports psychologist and the ‘point-by-point’ mentality that complements her impressive fitness around the court.
Asked how it felt to pass such a mile-stone, she replied:
“It feels pretty exciting, I have to say. [But] it’s everything to do with today. It’s not just a final. I was playing against Venus Williams, such a champion. I was playing in a Premier tournament, as well. It was quite a lot of things. I’m really happy with how I was able to deal with that and really appreciate the situation for what it was and really be grateful and humbled by it.
“I’m just looking forward to reinvesting this experience that I gained today into future matches in my career.”
The next step in that career has already begun. Konta hot-footed it to Montreal to play for the first time in the Rogers Cup, an even more lucrative event of 56 women, where the Briton can gain both prize money and points—and that means rankings, too.
As the No15 seed, Konta has not enjoyed the top-eight privilege of a first-round bye, so she was back on court on Tuesday after her long victory match over Williams just two days before. She faced, in the No52-ranked Shelby Rogers, a not inconsiderable test too. The American had beaten Konta in one of their two previous matches.
Konta took the first set, 6-4, but the second began in a real tussle. After five consecutive breaks of serve, Konta finally held via another deuce for 4-2. She broke Rogers again and this time held to love for the match, 6-2, in a tidy hour and 21 minutes.
Konta was afterwards asked if she recalled where she had been a year ago. It happened to be in Canada, but playing the lower tier of the ITF. Konta was just embarking on her hard-court surge to two ITF titles in Canada before her big run through qualifying to the fourth round of the US Open.Yes, she did remember, but no, it was not such a big deal.
“Well, from the outside it looks much more remarkable than for me. I am living it every single day so it’s very much a progression, a process for me.
“I’m very grateful and humbled by the experiences that I’ve had in a relatively short amount of time. I’m not blind to the fact that I’ve had some really good results this year. I feel very lucky that my body is healthy and I’m able to play as much as I want to.
“I definitely don’t undervalue my experiences in those Challengers, really doing my time and coming through them, because I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t been able to do what I did then.”
Konta, these days, is all about process, all about living the moment. And that approach seems to have unlocked the calm confidence with which she is now striding towards the top 10. She can take a step nearer that goal if she wins her next match against qualifier Tania King—which based on rankings, she will expect to do.
The draw, in fact has opened up very nicely for the Briton. She was originally drawn into the top eighth with Serena Williams, but the American pulled out ahead of the draw, only for the next top seed, Garbine Muguruza, to withdraw as well. Her place was taken by lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko, ranked 50.
The woman from Uzbekistan beat another Briton, Naomi Broady, in a tough three-setter, after Broady had already come through three sets to beat the considerably higher ranked Monica Puig.
Also in this quarter is Eugenie Bouchard, who survived a stern final-set tie-break against Lucie Safarova.
Heather Watson was beaten in the first round by No13 seed Sam Stosur.