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An Interview With: Johanna Konta (Round 3)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Q. How thrilled are you to be in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time?

JOHANNA KONTA: Pretty happy, obviously. Today was not an easy task, and, you know, even if she wasn't feeling her best, she's still one of the best competitors out there. Yeah, she definitely didn't give it to me in the end. I'm just happy I was able to come through that.

Q. Is part of your challenge now to contain that excitement and happiness, to keep your game together and not get carried away?

JOHANNA KONTA: Um, to be honest, I feel just as I did two weeks ago. I haven't exactly grown wings or anything. Yeah, I must say I'm happy with how I have been playing so far this week, but my feet are firmly on the ground. I haven't cured cancer or anything. I'm just happy that I get to come back next week and compete again against an extremely good player. I'm just looking forward to that.

Q. So what were your realistic expectations when you walked on court for that first-round qualifying?

JOHANNA KONTA: I was just thinking about that match, to be honest. Every match I have gone on I haven't looked back or forward. It's just about that opponent and those circumstances that will arise in that specific match and just trying to deal with that the best as possible.

Q. Have you got better at doing that? Have you got better at being tunnel visioned about the individual match?

JOHANNA KONTA: Definitely. I think that's helping me a lot to stay present. That's no secret. I have told that; I've said that a lot now. I really have just been working on staying very present and taking, during the matches, just one point at a time.

Q. What do you think are the keys to your current success, your current run?

JOHANNA KONTA: It's a combination of things. It's a progression of things. You know, I have a really good team around me. I'm very fortunate for that. I feel very blessed. They are a good, positive influence on me and just keeping things perspective and just really enjoying the journey that I'm on, really, with the good and the bad. Yeah.

Q. Remind us of the psychologist's name?

JOHANNA KONTA: Am I going to be reminding you guys every day? His name is Juan Coto.

Q. Have you spoken to him since we last asked you to remind us of his name?

JOHANNA KONTA: Just little messages here and there, yeah. (Smiling.)

Q. How much of the work with him comes in handy when you're serving for the match and serving for the match again?

JOHANNA KONTA: It's him as well as my coaches. It's a combination; it's the whole team together. It's the consistent message of how I want to be perceived out there and how I want to be acting out there. Yeah, no, it's a combination of things. Obviously everything that we are working on with my whole team is good stuff.

Q. How tough were those games?

JOHANNA KONTA: It was strange because, I mean, it would be silly to say I wasn't nervous or wasn't kind of feeling tension. I didn't feel all of it was my own tension. I felt like it was a lot of tension around me. Yeah, I kept on actually consciously reminding myself how lucky I am to be in this position. Win or lose, that I get to experience this whole thing that was happening out there. So, yeah, I just feel very blessed.

Q. Was that the British support you felt, clinging on, that you were relying on?

JOHANNA KONTA: British or whoever. It wasn't really any one specific to nationality. I think the match was coming to a bit of a crescendo. Is that what it's called? So I think it was more, you know, it was excitement for the crowd, as well. And obviously, yeah, no, you feel that. Yeah, no, it was great.

Q. What do you mean when you say how you want to be perceived out there?

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, I am an entertainer of sorts, so I want to present an image that I would like. This is no secret. I'm not the calmest or the most, like, really cool person out there. Everyone knows that I can be quite, you know, bubbly and I can be quite, what's the word, the word I have always used?

Q. Emotional?

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, yeah, emotional. So, yeah, it's always been a work in progress for me to keep things the way I want to keep them and to have the kind of train of thought and habits that I want to keep, yeah.

Q. You seem to be handling it physically very well when other players are struggling. Are you on top of it with the heat?

JOHANNA KONTA: Well, lucky me, I was born in Australia, so I guess I have experienced heat to a certain extent out there. But to be honest, I try not to pay much attention to it. I'm just as tired as everyone out there. But, you know, I'm also, you know, not really paying attention to that because who cares if you're tired? You get to play at the US Open. I can deal with a bit of tiredness.

Q. You have to obviously hold it together during that delay in the second set. Do you think it's right that players can stop the match for that long when they walk on court with sort of pre-existing condition as she admitted to afterwards?
JOHANNA KONTA: I don't know what her condition was, and to this day I don't know. She obviously wasn't feeling...

Q. But the principle of it. Do you think that's right that someone like, in your position, your train of thought and concentration and momentum could be stopped?

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, I have no opinion about that because it would be kind of hypocritical of me to say anything if I'm in the same position and I call the trainer on myself. I think we have that for a reason, and it's to use by the discretion of the player. If she felt she needed it, then it's absolutely right. As in terms of how I react to it, that's my business and that's my responsibility to keep my focus. It came at a great time because I really needed the loo, so it worked out great.

Q. She was saying afterwards she suffered from a cold and flu and she felt there was something going around the locker room. Will you be watching the amount of time you will be spending around the locker room?

JOHANNA KONTA: I will be washing my hands more than I already do. I am already a bit of a germaphobe, as my boyfriend can attest to. If you're going to get sick you're going to get sick. I'm constantly coming in contact with a lot of people. To be honest, I'm very much on top of my nutrition and hydration. Everything that is under my control to prevent that from happening I'm doing, and the rest is up to luck or whatever.

Q. I know you like living in the present, but can we just go into the future just a little bit and talk about Petra.

JOHANNA KONTA: No. Obviously I'm really looking forward to the challenge. I have never played her. I have obviously seen her play. Two-time Grand Slam champion. I'm feeling pretty lucky that I get an opportunity to play against such a player. In terms of how I will be playing, honestly, I'm very much still recovering from the match I just played. When the time comes I will be having a chat with my coach.

Q. Am I correct? Something is my vague memory is telling me that I saw you sitting near press seats for the Wimbledon final when Kvitova won.

JOHANNA KONTA: No. That wasn't me.

Q. See, that just shows my memory is shot a bit.

JOHANNA KONTA: (Laughter.)

Q. How different do you feel in stressful moments in a match like when you have four or five match points going past? How different do you feel now than, say, a year ago? Different mental routines you're going through?

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, I don't necessarily feel any different. I think I have developed, you know, better and better habits of, you know, the initial things that I bring into my mind when things don't go my way. I think maybe that has gone on a bit better and more routine. But, yeah, I mean, I think the main thing is I'm just really enjoying the situation, even when I lost I don't know how many match points I had. You know, I was enjoying the whole thing, because even though I was nervous or even though, you know, things are happening, it was just really enjoyable to be out there and to get to experience. I mean, I spoke to my mum after on the phone. My dad was going on about tennis, and my mum was like, Oh, you embrace this whole opportunity, this whole scenario that you got to experience, because, you know, that's what life is about, experiences. So, I mean, I think that's more -- that's kind of all I really can answer that with. It's just enjoying an experience.

Q. After this run that you're on, going into this match from a mental point of view, did you go into it feeling like you have nothing to lose, or do you have more expectation of yourself now?

JOHANNA KONTA: Neither. I haven't gone into any match feeling I've got nothing to lose, same as I haven't gone into a match -- what's the other thing that you said? (Smiling.) Literally I go in with the ambition of wanting to do my best and believing that I can do well, but then also going in being humble, knowing that, you know, I can go out here and I can lose. I don't deserve to win any more than the other player does. Yeah, I'm just really keeping my feet firmly on the ground and taking control over things that I know I can, and everything else just rolling with the punches.

Q. Have you ever played someone that you grew up admiring? How did that feel?

JOHANNA KONTA: Have I ever played someone that...

Q. ...you grew up admiring?

JOHANNA KONTA: Sharapova, actually. I grew up watching Sharapova for a very long time now. Not when I was very young, but my teenage formative years. That's when she was already on the scene. Yeah, I played her obviously at Wimbledon this year, but otherwise, in a competitive match, I haven't actually -- I don't think.

Q. How did that feel?

JOHANNA KONTA: There was a lot of firsts for me in that match. I was playing Maria Sharapova, for one, but I was also on Centre Court at Wimbledon, and that was pretty special. So I didn't, I guess, maybe focus so much on who I was playing. I really tried to block -- like really just tried to stay in my own space because that was a lot of firsts for me there. I felt more comfortable with just staying here and maybe not -- I didn't quite let it all in.

Q. Aside from like confidence issues and mentality and things like that, what do you think that you're executing on maybe tactically or stroke for stroke that has really helped you the last few months, I guess?

JOHANNA KONTA: I think I'm quite happy with how I have accepted to just get balls back when I needed to or to really accept staying in a rally when I needed to. And I think I have become more patient. So I think if anything, maybe that has given me kind of the ability to just fight better in certain points.

Q. You said your success comes with a combination of a lot of different factors, but if you name one or two matches or tournament which gives you confidence or is any specific match which changes mentally or to your confidence level?

JOHANNA KONTA: To be honest, no, because like I keep saying, for me, it's not like a light bulb thing. It's something that has been years and years and years of hard work and years and years and years of making, you know, mistakes and then kind of learning from those mistakes eventually. That's still very much a work in progress. I have got a lot to work on still. I have got a lot of things that I can still get better at, and that's great. That's enjoyable. Because if I didn't enjoy working hard and if I didn't enjoy just keep trying to be better, then this would be a very miserable lifestyle.

Q. Can you sort of identify, if there are, the little things that are surrounding you now at this tournament, getting this far that you have never experienced before?

JOHANNA KONTA: Sorry, repeat that? I don't quite understand.

Q. Well, you're deep in a Grand Slam; US Open in New York.

JOHANNA KONTA: Yeah.

Q. What little things, if there are any, that surround you now that you've never experienced before?

JOHANNA KONTA: Maybe my boyfriend letting me choose a channel on TV. (Laughter.) I mean, to be honest, not really. I mean, I have experienced main-draw slams before, but I haven't gone deep. I have experienced you all lovely lots before, although maybe not to this grand scale. I have experienced -- I mean, to be honest, no, not really. Because I do strive to keep things simple. I think my team are a big believer in simple, as well. So to be honest, no.

Q. Your bio says you admire Steffi Graf. How would you feel about Serena maybe tying or breaking her slam record?

JOHANNA KONTA: I mean, that would be freaking amazing, to be honest. I don't even know what to say to that, because I admire Steffi Graf because that's maybe who I grew up watching, but I admire Serena Williams, because, I mean, who doesn't admire Serena Williams? To be honest, I'd love for her to achieve that. I don't know really of anyone who wouldn't. It's an incredible achievement and one that I can only kind of watch and admire, to be honest.

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