Jo Konta will step on to No.1 Court at Wimbledon for a second successive match with a de-cluttered mind on ‘Magic’ Monday at 1pm. A mind devoid of the hopes and dreams she has of becoming the best player in the world. A mind minus any thoughts on the expectation of the nation and, come to that, the bookies who have installed her as favourite to become the first home winner of the ladies’ singles title in SW19 since Virginia Wade.
I believe every single woman in the draw is a threat to everybody. It’s been proven time and time again that everyone can play at a high level on any given day Jo Konta
The British No.1 and sixth seed will employ the mental tricks she learned from her late psychologist Juan Coto against Caroline Garcia of France as all remaining singles players take to the courts looking to secure a place in the quarter-finals of their event.
The 26-year-old has done it all tournament. Done it since Coto embedded the “process” in her head.
And the way she verbally articulates it gives you a clue as to how she puts up the ‘walls’ to ensure the room of her mind remain calm, zen-like, during matches.
So what about this being favourite business, Jo?
She said: “Everyone in the draw is in with chance of taking the title. I’m pretty sure favourites also come and go. They change daily almost. I’m just happy to have actually made it into the second week. Happy to have come through three battles. It is very much about taking one match at a time, but definitely working towards staying involved for the full two weeks.”
Former British No.1 Tim Henman, four-times a Wimbledon semi-finalist, and British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith fancy your chances.
She said: “That’s what you guys tell me. I don’t spend too much time thinking about it or listening to that sort of talk, only because things move very quickly in tennis and opinions change daily.”
Can you imagine the hoo-haah if you and Andy Murray win the big trophies?
She said: “I haven’t thought about that, but if it were to happen, that would be amazing.”
Who is a threat to you in the draw?
She said: “I believe every single woman in the draw is a threat to everybody. It’s been proven time and time again that everyone can play at a high level on any given day.”
None of the comments is likely to make a Quote of the Day either in your favourite newspaper or on your website of choice, but Konta does not care a jot.
“It’s important to stay grounded and stay true to the good things that I bring to my game and to really enjoy competing and trying to be the best I can be,” she said to The Scotsman.
And Konta even has a fail-safe, a safety net of the mind should her match against Garcia go pear-shaped.
As she said to The Guardian: “For me results aren’t everything. For me my health, the health of my family, that is everything. I do try to put it in a very harsh perspective. If I lose a tennis match, so what?”
And no matter what the stakes the world No.7 is remaining true to Coto’s methodology and her own views.
Konta is convinced the best is yet to come from her at the tournament.
She said: “I’m playing some good tennis. I don’t think I’m playing unbelievable tennis. I’m playing with the mindset of just trying to get better, like I have done every other match I’ve played in my career, every other tournament I’ve played as well. I don’t think there’s anything different that’s happening.
“I definitely believe in myself, that fact they I can keep improving. I can keep getting better.”
Garcia will be a tough nut to crack for Konta. After all she overcame Konta in Indian Wells this year.
Konta said: “She’s a very good player. Someone who is playing with a lot of confidence in the Slams. I lost a very close match to her in Indian Wells. I don’t anticipate anything different other than a really tough battle.”
Garcia, 23, who made the French Open quarter-finals recently, added: “She’s a great player, great serve, great forehand and moving, wanting to put the pressure on the other one. It would be very difficult.”