Aussie tennis Open win for Konta

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta
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Britain’s Johanna Konta has attributed her remarkable rise to her family and coaches rather than the Lawn Tennis Association.

Konta cruised into the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday with a scintillating 6-3 6-1 victory over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.

The British number one will now face Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in the last 16 and is yet to drop a set in the tournament so far. She is widely considered to be a genuine contender for the title.

Konta’s career, however, could have fizzled after the LTA slashed her funding in 2015 as part of wider cuts in support for emerging players.

Asked if that decision had stiffened her resolve, Konta said: “That period of time when the organisation decided to stop funding me wasn’t in my benefit. It actually was very difficult.

“Everybody needs help. This is not a cheap sport. Whether you find that help through a Federation or through a private sponsor or through a family, no one gets there without any help.

“I don’t believe tough love is necessarily the answer. I think it also depends on the player. I think I was just very fortunate to have very good people around me at the time.

“My family, my support system, also my coaches at the time did a tremendous job in pulling together around me and making sure that our focus remained on the work and not on external situations which were mainly out of our control.”

Konta is ranked only 11 spots higher than world number 20 Wozniacki but she exposed a considerable gulf in class on Margaret Court Arena, winning in a brisk 75 minutes.

An awesome display of power-hitting, simply proved too strong for the Dane as Konta cracked 31 winners and won nine games in a row across the first and second sets.

“I was very happy with I guess the way I was able to assert myself from the very beginning, also tighten up my game a bit as that first set went on, and just maintain my level to the very end,” Konta said.

“Against someone like Caroline, she’s not going to give it to you. You really do have to earn it and win it till the very last point. I’m just very happy I was able to keep that pressure on.”

She now faces world number 34 Makarova, whom she beat 4-6 6-4 8-6 here last year, with the winner likely to earn a quarter-final showdown with Serena Williams.

On Makarova, Konta said: “Every time we play, we have a battle. I remember that match last year was a high-level match from both of us. That was really a great match to be a part of.

“I think she really enjoys playing here. She always seems to do well on these courts. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll deal with whatever challenges come up the next day.”

This is the first time Britain has ever had three players each win three Australian Open singles matches after Andy Murray and Dan Evans both reached the last 16 of the men’s draw on Friday.

Born in Sydney, however, Konta is facing growing determination from Australian fans to claim her as one of their own.

“I think the announcer on court tried to get the crowd involved,” Konta said.

“He said, ‘Is she from Great Britain? Is she from Australia?’ I’m like, ‘this is kind of awkward’.

“But yeah, my place of birth is no secret. Also where I call home is no secret either. Everyone’s pretty clear where they stand with me.”