Konta Could Be 2015 Most Improved Player

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

Britain’s Johanna Konta may be out of the Wuhan Open but the player who started 2015 outside the world’s top 150 and is set to end it inside the top 50 now looks a distinct contender for the WTA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award.

Konta, born in Sydney, Australia of Hungarian parents but now a naturalized Brit after a protracted process of switching nationality pushed Venus Williams every inch of the way in the Wuhan quarterfinal after winning through the qualifying rounds, just as she did at the US Open last month.

She nearly added the former world no.1 to an impressive list of recent victims that includes world no.2 Simona Halep, former world no.1 Victoria Azarenka, current world no.8 Garbine Muguruza (twice) and world no.16 Andrea Petkovic (twice).  Her strong run since Wimbledon has resulted in 21 from her last 23 matches.

Williams, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victor, admitted that she had to ‘dig deep’ to beat Konta who a day earlier ousted tournament top seed Halep. “Today I was definitely waiting on a few errors which didn’t come from her side,” said the five times Wimbledon champion who was twice two points from defeat.  “I think she had a lot of self-belief out there and she had a lot of focus.

“I thought that was really impressive, especially playing against opponents that have more experience than her, who have been in these situations before.  I thought she handled herself really, really well.”

A day earlier Halep said 24 year-old Konta: “She’s a good player who is going to be higher in the rankings soon and has started already to win tough matches. She will be a tough opponent in the future.”

The win against Halep distinguished Konta as the first British female player to beat a member of the world’s top three since former French Open champion Sue Barker ousted then no.2 Tracy Austin from the long-since defunct Brighton tournament in October 1981.

Virginia Wade is the only other British woman player to have beaten a member of the world’s top three since rankings began more than 40 years ago.

Konta, coached by the Spanish duo of Esteban Carril and Jose-Manuel Garcia, works hard not to get too excited about her achievements but the qualifier who also reached the US Open’s last 16, said: “To be able to play at such a high level against some of the best players in the world and to keep repeating that day in and day out, I think that’s probably the biggest confidence boost I could hope for.

“Otherwise I’ve got a lot to work on.  I’m definitely not satisfied with everything, but I’m content with where I am right now.  I’m just really looking forward to the next chance I get to step out onto the court for practice or for a match and just keep trying.”

Konta was set to head to Beijing and play the qualifying round of the China Open. However Konta opted against the quick turnaround and will instead fly home to Britain to prepare for upcoming WTA events in Luxembourg and Linz before a $100,000 ITF tournament in France to finish her 2015 season.

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.