"I'm looking to start this season in a good mental space, a good physical space and a good tennis space", Johanna Konta had said at a press conference on the 2018 season as it was about to begin. She might have felt those emotions looking back at the previous 2017 where she went far into tournaments with the guidance of her new coach Wim Fissette.
Konta made the semifinals at Shenzhen Open and won her 2nd WTA title at Sydney defeating Aga Radwanska. She'd hit 32 winners over the Pole and won in straight sets simply overpowering her. Konta didn't lose a set the entire tournament and continued her winning ways and strategies as she went to the quarters at Melbourne, won her three singles matches at Fed Cup and even reached the final at Nottingham.
It was towards the end of the season she developed a foot injury but came out appearing like a blooming rose winning the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. This season 2018 had more deflections than rejoicing for Konta.
She started off losing the opener and not able to defend her title at Sydney. She went through the quarterfinals last year at the Australian Open, but this year ended her run with the second round to no. 123 Bernarda Pena. The upside of this season was Konta getting to a few quarterfinals but the rest was basically bowing at the opener or second rounds of mandatory and grand slam events.
It would be a nice to see the Johanna Konta of last year and a few years back rally and make a hit of 2019 with her new coach, Dimitri Zavialoff. He was Stan Wawrinka's first coach and will be her fourth in just about three years.
Konta walked onto the court holding her head high last year in July 2017, not only the top lady Brit but proved it with her career-high ranking of no. 4. What a difference a year makes as she is now looking at the end of as no.
39 in the world and longing to get her groove back big time. Konta had wins over the defiant Belgium Elise Mertens, as well as Daria Gavrilova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich all with better rankings than the Brit. This was a mental energizer as she began to feel self-assured she can sharpen her game to an effective point.
She had a challenging opener at the Kremlin Cup with Daria Kasatkina, a no-nonsense 21-year-old. Konta crawled up from a 5-2 first set deficit to 5-4 during Kasatkina's lack double faulting session. But working the momentum in her advantage didn't happen and the young Russian kept her fuse lit to burn Konta with four points, winning the set 6-4.
The second set a heavily perspiring Kasatkina ploughed to a 4-1 lead smelling the soon-to-be victory as she witnessed Konta fizzling out with unforced errors at the baseline. Johanna Konta has got game and has shown her brilliance but she'll have come up with a few needed ingredients to get back to the Konta all of the fans and tennis community are used to screaming about.
She proved she can stay focused in 2016 by defeating Venus Williams and winning her maiden title at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. She even rallied back at the Miami Open and won a set off of the elder sister Williams despite losing the match.
She has had victories over the 2017 French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko in Montreal and dismantled Serena Williams in San Jose with a powerful 6-1, 6-0 blasting aggression. Focus, power, determination are some of the factors Konta knows she'll have to concentrate on to show wins and go deep.
Can she do it with the help of Zavialoff and her experience as a once top 5 WTA player? Of course, now she has to show her talents to fans and the tennis community that has seen it before and yearns to see it again.