Wimbledon | Konta to fight on
Jo Konta insisted she will continue to put herself in the firing line in her bid to one day make the final of a Grand Slam event.
I think the best I can do is put myself in the positions, to give myself the opportunity to keep going further and further. I mean, it will either happen or it won't Jo Konta
The British No.1 was criticised by the good and the great, including John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Nick Bollettieri for her performance in losing a Wimbledon quarter-final she was favourite to win; in parallel to her recent loss in the French Open semi-final to Marketa Vondrousova.
And she had tears in her eyes when getting involved in a verbal exchange with a journalist dissatisfied with her summation of her reverse against unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova which denied her a second All England semi-final in three years, accusing her interrogator of “picking on me” and being “patronising”.
Marion Bartoli, the former champion who had previously opined Konta was too “fragile” to win a Slam, chipped into that row by insisting the 28-year-old was “bullied”.
And added: “As a tennis player you just can’t allow yourself to be bullied like this in a press conference from someone who probably never picked up a racquet himself and never been on Centre Court, to be frank.”
There were also inquiries about the possibility of her using “X-rated language” on court against Strycova and dealing with social media with Konta revealing “I definitely have had loads of people wanting me to die” on it.
It all goes with the territory and the questions were legitimate but as I sat in the interview room during the differences of opinion between player and journalist, I felt my objectivity as an impartial observer being tested as she sat with a hurt, bewildered. bemused expression on her face as her tear ducts welled. The human being behind the professional exposed.
But Konta is only too willing to put her head above the parapet once more, risking being a Nearly Woman again.
She said: “I think the best I can do is put myself in the positions, to give myself the opportunity to keep going further and further. I mean, it will either happen or it won’t.
“I’m no less of a person or a player if I don’t get past this point. Equally so if I do. I think, yeah, I play this game with dignity, and I love the sport. I’m grateful for everything that it brings me.”
She added that she had no regrets over her performance against Strycova as she planned her moved forward.
Konta was asked: “You said after losing the French Open semi-finals that you had no regrets, you wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m wondering if you found similar feelings today or are there moments in your mind that you wish you had done something differently, wish your approach had been different.”
She said: “ No, I’m in the same boat still. I mean, I went out there, I did my best. My best today just wasn’t good enough. But every decision that I made, every thought process, every opportunity that I gave myself, everything, I have no regrets in doing. I did the best that I could.”
Evert and McEnroe touched on losing when favourite on the big stage on the BBC.
Evert said: “I called her matches against Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova and she was looking good enough to win the tournament.
“Then she comes out here and I think she froze a little bit. She had all the expectation and all the pressure on her. I think it was almost a given to a lot of the fans she was going to win this match.”
McEnroe said: “It was disappointing to see her fall to pieces after that lead she had in the first,” he said. “I was amazed how many unforced errors she hit. Where was the Plan B? Plan B should be not beating yourself. If you start doing it, you have got to pull back and dig in.”
Nick Bollettieri, who has coached a multitude of Slam champions, said to The Independent: “Konta has played some excellent tennis in the last three months but on this occasion she couldn’t find any sort of rhythm – because Strycova didn’t give her a chance to find it. I thought Konta struggled to handle the situation mentally. I also feel that her forehand is sometimes a weakness.”