Johanna Konta describes her tennis career as maturing like a fine wine but the British No 1’s champagne moment may still be yet to come.
Konta heads into the Australian Open not just with an outside chance of claiming her first grand slam title but as one of the favourites in an highly unpredictable women’s draw.
She is, after all, the form player here after bulldozing her way to a second WTA title last week in Sydney, brushing aside the resurgent Eugenie Bouchard and then world No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.
Konta’s triumph means she will move inside the world’s top 10, to ninth, when the rankings refresh today, two years after starting a season 150th and having never gone past the first round of a major tournament.
“I believe I have matured,” Konta said.
“I believe I’ve gotten better at reinvesting the experiences and the lessons that I’ve learned throughout the years and actually putting them into the situations that I face on the match court.
“I think that has made me a better competitor. But again, I think things like that also take time, like a good wine, so I think it was just about accumulating experiences.”
Konta – whose opening match is against Kirsten Flipkens tomorrow – certainly has fond memories of her last experience in Melbourne, where she reached the semi-finals 12 months ago before falling to eventual champion Angelique Kerber.
“It is special to come back here,” Konta said. I’m healthy, and I’m enjoying playing. That’s what I’m looking forward to, just to compete.”