Konta doesn’t fear Serena
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JO Konta believes a major key to upsetting Serena Williams is the knowledge she has picked up playing her sister Venus and other Grand Slam champions.
The British No.1 would emulate her run to the semi-finals of the 2016 Australian Open if she were to overcome Serena, a winner of 22 Slams, in their first meeting.
I have prepared myself as much as possible to play a competitor like Serena.
Konta, the ninth seed, defeated SerenaÈs elder sister at the Melbourne tournament last year before beating Venus, herself a multi-Slam champion, to lift the Stanford title.
And she also put on a spirited display against the American before going down in three sets during in the 2015 Wuhan quarter-final.
Konta, 25, said: I have been fortunate enough that I have played her sister a few times.
I have played, over the last year and a half, quite a few Grand Slam champions and some former world No.1s.
So I have prepared myself as much as possible to play a competitor like Serena.
I’m looking forward to it. To trying, leaving it all out there and giving it my best."
Konta knows she has to be fully focused to beat one of the all-time greats.
She said: I believe in my own ability. In the good things that I bring to the court, and I in my ability to fight till the very end.
Now, there’s that and then there’s also an opponent out there, and this one’s going to be Serena Williams.
I think it’s about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that puts me in a position to come through, then that’s great.
But I’ve got to focus on the work and not think of whether I can or cannot beat her. I just need to stay on the work.
She hasnÈt felt intimidated by SerenaÈs presence off court but respects her.
Konta said: I don’t really get shy and I don’t think I’m the opposite, either. I feel I have a lot of respect for every single player on tour, whether they are multiple Grand Slam champions, whether they are former world No.1s, whether they have been around 60 or 100 for their whole career.
I think that respect comes from the knowledge that, to a certain extent, we all kind of know what the other person has gone through to get to where they have, the early years, the journey, the tough times, the victories.
"That’s where my respect for every player comes from. I respect that they have been working just as hard as I have. That’s why I don’t necessarily feel I would get too shy around anyone.
Victory for Konta, who won the Sydney International going in to Melbourne, would make it her tenth in a row in a flying start to the year.
And she was boosted to learn Serena, 35, has been keeping an eye on her progress, suggesting the serial champion is worried.
Konta said: That is nice to hear, but I don’t necessarily think that Serena Williams gets too worried. Just the amount of experience she has!
"I’m sure she’s got her system and her method for preparing for every match, regardless who she plays, and I’m sure she’s going to be applying that method against me.
I just hope we play a great match and that we bring a good level so the crowd will enjoy it and will get into it.