Calmness keeps Konta among the world's best

Updated: 2016-11-02 07:30

By Xu Jingxi in Zhuhai, Guangdong(China Daily)

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Calmness keeps Konta among the world's best

Britain's Johanna Konta attends a press conference in Zhuhai,  Nov 1, 2016. [Photo/VCG] 

Britain's Johanna Konta, who lost her chance for a dream debut at the WTA Finals in Singapore, has picked herself up and returned to top-seed form for the Tour's year-end event in Zhuhai this week.

Konta was bumped from Singapore when Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and leapfrogged into the last spot in the eight-player showcase.

"It was definitely not an ideal situation for any player in Singapore, but I think to be an alternate is also an accomplishment in its own way. It shows that I played a consistent year on the Tour," Konta told China Daily on Tuesday.

"I made the most out of the situation with my team. We had a great training week and I was looking forward to coming to Zhuhai."

An abdominal strain forced Konta to pull out of last month's Hong Kong Open, but she said she's now "feeling really good" after some well-earned rest and practice in Singapore.

"I feel motivated and really lucky that I still can play one more event this year," said the current world No 10 and highest-ranked player at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

Voted the Tour's most improved player in 2016, Konta rocketed up from No 126 just 16 months ago to as high as No 9 last month, becoming the first British female since 1983 to crack the top 10.

She credits the improvement to "maturing and accumulating experience."

"Every athlete, regardless of what sport they play, goes through a maturing period, growing up with their sport," said Konta.

"I just needed time to accumulate experience. When the time came, I was in the right position and had enough tools in my bag to cope with whatever challenge came along.

"It's my own journey, and I'm still on it. There will be ups and downs, but it's important to maintain your desire to improve every single day in all areas, not just mentally or just physically.

"It's important to maximize the small things as you get to a higher level."

Although she smiles a lot off the court, the 25-year-old Konta is known for her poker face during competition.

Calmness and mental strength have been keys to her rise to stardom, and she has been working with mental coach Juan Coto since the fall of 2014.

"I was quite emotional when I was younger," Konta said.

"It definitely took time and a lot of effort and energy to understand the game and think the way I want to think on court in order to stay calm and manage my emotions better.

"The team I have around me really brings the best out of me in that way."

Konta became known to Chinese fans by defeating homegrown star Zhang Shuai three times in a row this year. Zhang won her opening match on Tuesday, defeating Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-1.

Konta kicks off her tournament on Wednesday against 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia.