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An Interview With: Johanna Konta (Round 2)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Q. That was a great one. How did you feel getting by that?

JOHANNA KONTA: Obviously I'm very happy to come back and fight another day. I'm very tired right now, but, you know, it's a good tired, because it just shows that, you know, I left everything out there. I'm just happy I was able to come away with a win.

Q. What pleased you more: the fact that you outplayed her for most of the match, or was it the mental strength you showed when things did get tough?

JOHANNA KONTA: Definitely mental strength more than anything, because I think tennis level comes and goes. We don't have as much control over that as we would like. But obviously mental-wise, yeah, it's mainly under my control, and I was very happy with how I was able to stay tough when I needed to and stay calm when I needed to. Obviously nothing is ever going to be perfect, so I'm just happy I was able to roll with the punches as they came.

Q. How difficult was it to stay calm after that call in the second set? How did you see that? It looked close.

JOHANNA KONTA: Obviously I had my own opinion of it, but you're always going to have tense moments and tense times of the match. So even in that first-set tiebreak she could have easily lost her cool a bit, because I did I felt got quite lucky with some of the things there. Luck is always going to come and go. It's always at the discretion of the umpire, and you have to take it for what it is. I'm just happy that I was able to come back after losing that second set and just, you know, stay strong and keep fighting and just refocus.

Q. How did you keep your mental coolness? Because the conditions were utterly brutal out there. You looked completely calm and controlled from first ball to the last.

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, to start off with, I think it was a mental state. To finish off, it was more like I had no energy to do anything else. But, you know, if I'm not going to stay calm mentally, if I'm not going to stay focused, then I'm not going to give myself the best chance of beating some of the best players in the world. Muguruza didn't come out playing her best tennis, but she always comes out being the most competitive as possible, and that's why she us top 10 in the world and a Wimbledon finalist. I'm just happy that I was able to come through.

Q. Did the Eastbourne match have any bearing on it at all? Did you learn anything in that match you used today?

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, we have played each other three times now, and all three times have been three sets. Until today it was 1-All. To be fair, you know, I took confidence from the fact that, you know, I had beaten her before. But when you step out on the court for a new match, it has nothing to do with it. It's a new day, different surface, different menu, different country. So, yeah, I'm just very happy with how I was able to deal with every situation that arised. I felt I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to be out there. Whether it was going to be win or lose, I wanted things to happen on my terms.

Q. In terms of the heat and the humidity and the length of the match, was that the most challenging conditions you think you have ever played?

JOHANNA KONTA: It's hard to say. To be honest, I mean, how long was it, like three-and-a-half hours? I noticed after the first set -- it was incredibly long, but then after I had a couple glances on the clock. I'm like, Oh, okay. We have been here for a while. (Smiling.) But otherwise, obviously it's difficult with sweating buckets. I definitely -- I mean, after changing the clothes, I mean, they literally weighed like a lot. (Smiling.) But we deal with it as best we can; it was the same for her and the same for a lot of players playing out there at this time. No, I'm just happy that I was able to put that to the back of my mind, because it's completely out of my control. So, yeah, I was just happy I was able to get on with things and just keep fighting.

Q. Jack Sock has had to retire in quite dramatic fashion; couldn't stand up on the court. Did you feel any sort of cramps or anything like that during the match?

JOHANNA KONTA: I actually heard that in the locker room. It's a horrible situation to be in. I really feel for him. Actually, I did have a thought out there, thinking, I can't remember what it was, but I had a conscious thought, Would it be really embarrassing if I just toppled over here? No, it was definitely hot out there. I'm already a sweater, so I was really perspiring. I mean, yeah, yeah, I felt I dealt with it the best I could. I was hydrating. I was nibbling on a banana. I was doing what works for me. Yeah, I was just dealing with things.

Q. You haven't lost since Wimbledon, correct? It's been 15 straight?

JOHANNA KONTA: Yeah. No, you guys keep updating me with how that's going, so thank you. (Laughter.)

Q. Was that in your mind at all when you step on the court today? Do you feel different when you have won that many matches in a row?

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, no, because every day is a new day. Every opponent is a new opponent. Trust me, they don't give a crap how many matches I have won. So, you know, every time I step out on to the court I'm competing against other players who want to win just as much as I do and deserve to win just as much as I do. I don't deserve it any more than they do. It really is just a battle. Obviously I'm happy that I have been able to stay healthy enough to be competing as much as I have. You know, I am going to lose sooner or later. I'm not invincible. I'm no Serena Williams. No, I'm just honestly happy to be still in this tournament and get another opportunity to compete. 

Q. We were talking a little bit before about some of the experiences other players have with the heat and all of that. I mean, can you even describe how it feels out there after three hours?

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, I actually think it is sometimes -- until you kind of reach the barrier of when you've been out there for a long time, but at the beginning I think it's actually easier for us than people sitting there because there is movement. You know, we are sweating and it's kind of cooling us. Well, for me, anyway. I feel like I deal with it better when I'm running around, when I'm moving, than if I would just be sitting. But obviously, you know, sweating that much and having that much emotional energy taken out of you for that period of time, it does take a toll. You feel very tired at some points, but you're still in the swing of things. So it doesn't really manifest itself until you've got off the court and you've kind of showered and sat down in the locker room. You're like, Okay. Oh, okay. I need to get up.

Q. Given you can't stop winning, how far do you think can you go this tournament?

JOHANNA KONTA: Right now I'm just in the third round and I'm playing against another incredibly tough player, Petkovic. I'm focusing on that match, and we will see how that goes.

Q. Maybe you haven't played too many matches like that, but do you think you will be able to make a full recovery with a rest day and be 100%?

JOHANNA KONTA: Oh, I believe I will be absolutely fine by tomorrow. Good night's sleep. This is what we train for. This is why we put the hours in that we do. This is not my first rodeo with a three-and-a-half hour match. No, I'm tired now, but I'm obviously also running on a bit of adrenaline. I'm still very much in the tournament, so there is no relaxing for me. I'm sure once my tournament finishes, whenever that may be, I'm sure I will feel much more tired then.

Q. You mentioned the Petkovic match. What do you expect from that? That's bound to be another real challenge.

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, exactly. Like you said, it will be a challenge. I'm expecting a very tough competitor, because that's what she is. I don't know her well. I know her enough that I think I practiced with her years ago, but I haven't played her and actually haven't watched her that much. To be honest, I'm still very much winding down from my win today and my performance today. You know, once tomorrow rolls around I will be sitting down with my coach and we will be having a chat.

Q. How important was it for you to convert this good form at a Grand Slam? You're in the third round for the first time.

JOHANNA KONTA: No, it really isn't. I really am just enjoying competing. I'm happy I get to be in the third round of the US Open. There is not that many people in the world that can say they have done that. I'm very humbled about this experience and just really enjoying every second of it. I'm also ambitious and I'm by no means content, but, you know, I'm also just -- best way to describe it is humbled. I'm happy to be here, happy to be competing. I just feel lucky enough that I'm healthy enough to do so.

Q. You talked about mental strength. How have you worked on that this year? I heard you have a mental strength coach.

JOHANNA KONTA: I have been working with my mental coach. There's been a lot of questions about him now. I actually told him, and he was like, Oh, my God, in front of all the press? I'm like, I know. (Laughter.) Yeah, we have been doing some great work together. He's a big part of my team and with my coaches. Yeah, no, he's just helped me a lot with dealing with things and with enjoyment and just keeping things in perspective. You know, this tennis world, this tennis community, is very much a bubble, and it's very easy to get lost in here. You know, there is a real world out there still.

Q. Do you find it's easy to focus against players of that caliber, or do you expect most players wield that sort of like difference in ranking? You seemed to really rise to the occasion.

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, if I would go out against some of these players and see them as their ranking, then I probably would have already lost before I even stepped on the court. You know, I keep in mind that everyone is human. You know, there are no super humans out there. But, yeah, no, I just feel confident in my own ability. I feel confident in my own strength. I'm also, you know, just very much trying to stay present. Every time I step out on there it's about competing each point to the best of my ability, and then whatever happens, happens.

Q. All the questions you're getting about the winning streak, does it make it harder for you to stay in the present or just enjoy it when you're out there?

JOHANNA KONTA: No, not really, because it's very, very -- it's a very superficial thing. Obviously, yeah, it looks great on paper, but you haven't been like ticking off on a piece of paper every time I go home. I mean, it's just the way things have happened right now. It's wonderful to have that, but it's not make or break for me, to be honest. I'm just very honest that at the tournament I'm at now I'm still in, and the fact that it's US Open, it's amazing. But if it was a 25 in God knows where, I'm just happy. I would still be happy I'm still in the tournament that I'm playing. I'm just very excited that I get to come back on I believe it is Saturday to compete again.

Q. The mental coach, did you talk to him at all ahead of match?

JOHANNA KONTA: No, actually. I just saw a Whatsapp from him that came through that was actually sent before my match. My Wi-Fi is horrible here. That's actually good because I'm not communicating with anyone. So, no, I didn't speak to him, but, you know, I will exchange some words with him now. Yeah, that's all good.

Q. Being firmly entrenched in the top 100 now, probably not thinking about it now, but talk about how that will affect you for the fall going forward and knowing where you will be on the tour full time instead of challengers.

JOHANNA KONTA: It actually won't affect me at all right now. My ranking will come out obviously after this tournament, and the last entries for main draw of the WTA Tour is this coming Monday. So actually my ranking won't be used at all. It won't affect me at all. It's actually quite nice. I'm looking forward to obviously the opportunity. I have to go to Asia and play. You know, planning on playing Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Beijing. First time in Wuhan and Beijing, so that's a great thing for me to have. I'm just happy I get to be in qualifying, to be honest. I get to be at those events.

Q. You mentioned the bubble of tennis. Would you tell us about how moving to Spain might have maybe helped? You seem to have bit of extra serenity now.

JOHANNA KONTA: I moved to Spain? I haven't moved to Spain. My coaches are Spanish so obviously I have spent a lot of time there. It would be incredibly unfair of me to ask my coaches to always travel up to see me. Obviously I love the environment there. There are a lot of players to play with. Yeah, it's a bit of a nice little haven for me. But I'm still very much a resident of the UK. I haven't spent much time at the National Tennis Centre now just because of the way my schedule has worked out. But, yeah, I'm enjoying the setup I have. It's nice to have that flexibility of being able to go somewhere else to train, as well. I'm very grateful for that.

Q. I know you told us where the place was in Spain at the French Open. Could you remind us?

JOHANNA KONTA: It's called Gijon. It's in the Asturias region, northern region of Spain.