Johanna Konta set to revel in weight of pressure at SW19

Home hope: Johanna Konta goes in to Wimbledon on Monday week looking to make a big impression, despite indifferent results in the last month. (Pictures: Simon Cooper/PA)
Home hope: Johanna Konta goes in to Wimbledon on Monday week looking to make a big impression, despite indifferent results in the last month. (Pictures: Simon Cooper/PA)
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Johanna Konta is happy to shoulder the burden of a level of expectation higher than ever before at SW19 after her ascent into the top 10.

And, with the women’s game as wide open as at any time in living memory, Konta goes into Wimbledon as a legitimate title hope.

Not that the woman herself will engage in such talk, preferring to focus on the processes that have propelled her to unforeseen heights.

Konta’s early exit from the French Open allowed her both to begin her grass preparations early and to continue making over the flat she bought in London at the end of last year.

Konta’s rise has been centred on a mental steeliness that has allowed her mostly to park her emotions in the locker room.

It has been a difficult time for Konta, with the death last November of her mental coach Juan Coto, but the British No 1has not allowed grief to derail her progress.

Coto’s methods and messages remain a key part of her armoury, and will be especially important with the spotlight shining brightly.

“The court size is the same, the lines are in the same place, the net’s the same height so in terms of the game, the only change is the surface,” said Konta, who won the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open in April.

“It’s the same tour, the same challenges and competitiveness. I do notice the crowd but I think the British crowd are very respectful of all the players.

“There’s a lot to look forward to and a lot to be excited about in this part of the season for me personally but for all the Brits as well, being at home for so many weeks in a row and then it all being capped off with Wimbledon.”

And Konta believes her Wimbledon preparations are still on track despite a disappointing Aegon Classic second-round defeat to Coco Vandeweghe.

The world No 7 crashed out in Birmingham after a 6-1 6-3 loss to the American, a grass-court specialist who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year.

Konta was beaten in the final of the Aegon Open last week by Donna Vekic as she failed to take the opportunity to win a first title on home soil.

And Konta does not believe the early exit in Birmingham is a blow to her build-up to Wimbledon and said: “Me losing second round against a very good player on this surface is by no means a blow. It’s part of the game.

“Just because I am seven in the world does not mean I am entitled to winning every single match.

“My job is to go out there and do the best that I can.

“Point being that I think I actually played two good matches here.

“I played a very good first round against someone who made semis last week in Hertogenbosch. I think I played a great match there. I think last week I played five great matches. I lost to a player who played better than me on the day.”

Konta won only 11 points as she lost the first set inside 24 minutes and although she improved in the second set fell to defeat in 64 minutes.

Despite the recent dip in results, Konta is the only British woman to have made Wimbledon’s main draw directly, with Heather Watson having slid down the rankings to such an extent that she needed a wild card.

The 25-year-old lost in the first round of the warm-up tournaments in Nottingham and Birmingham but is happy with her form.

She said: “I feel like I’m striking the ball very well. It’s just small things I think that will come together, and I feel like there’s a run coming soon.”

Laura Robson, who continues to make very slow progress back from the wrist problems that seriously derailed her career, Naomi Broady and Katie Boulter have also been given wild cards.

Kyle Edmund and Aljaz Bedene join Andy Murray in the men’s main draw by right, while James Ward, Brydan Klein and 21-year-old Cameron Norrie are the British wild cards.

Petra Kvitova secured the best win of her comeback so far, beating Kristina Mladenovic to reach the semi-finals of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

The Czech was playing her fifth match since returning from the horrific stabbing she suffered at her home in Prostejov six months ago.

Kvitova’s left hand is still not fully recovered but she has shown very encouraging form since returning at the French Open and defeated world No 12 Mladenovic 6-4 7-6 (7/5).

Kvitova will next play her fellow Czech Lucie Safarova, who survived a three-hour ordeal against Daria Gavrilova. Having saved match points in her opening-round win over Dominika Cibulkova, Safarova did the same again against Gavrilova.