The 22-year-old Ana Konjuh played only nine matches after the US Open 2017, struggling with an ongoing elbow injury that has ruined her career in the last couple of years. The Dubrovnik native had been one of the most promising players born around 1997, finishing inside the top-100 in 2014 after just turning 17 and conquering the first WTA title in Nottingham next June.
Just like in the previous year, Konjuh needed some time to find the right form in 2016 and it came at the best possible moment, advancing to the quarter-final of the US Open where she lost to Karolina Pliskova, backed by the semi-final in Guangzhou and the quarter-final in Moscow, the results that led her towards the top-50 and even bigger goals in the years to come.
The hard-hitting Croat opened the 2017 season with the final in Auckland, followed by the quarter-final run in Dubai. Ana scored eight wins on grass and cracked the top-20 at the end of July before her problems started in Stanford, losing in the opening round of the three most significant North American events and skipping the rest of the season after the US Open with a right elbow injury.
Ana ended her cooperation with Zeljko Krajan and underwent elbow surgery on September 15, hoping to make a fresh start in 2018 and to play injury-free again, making a comeback in Brisbane where Elina Svitolina defeated her in the second round.
Nonetheless, Ana struggled with her left hand more and more, withdrawing from the upcoming tournaments and undergoing another medical intervention in March. Her ranking went down rapidly, entering Roland Garros from outside the top-100 and losing 6-0, 6-1 to Carla Suarez Navarro before failing to make an impression in Eastbourne and Wimbledon as well, barely standing in the top-400.
To make things even worse, Ana wasn't sure what to do with her right elbow, practicing with no problems but starting to feel the pain in competitive matches after just a couple of games. Konjuh visited the specialists in Zurich, Turin and Bologna but no one could figure out what causes the constant pain.
Eager to give a shot in the season behind us, the Croat lost all three matches in St. Petersburg, Trnava and Budapest, feeling a sharp pain in her elbow again and deciding to undergo the fourth surgery, desperately trying to extend her career and compete with no pain.
After the summer break with her family, Ana started to work at the gym, hitting some light sessions on the court as well and improving her physical condition with each month that has passed. Ready to give it a go again, Konjuh will have to wait at least until May or June with the latest setbacks due to a coronavirus that has locked the tennis action for at least until the beginning of May.
"I'm currently working at home due to this situation but everything seems to be o.k at the moment. My elbow doesn't hurt during practice if I don't push too hard and I'm waiting to see how it will react during actual tournaments, although it is uncertain when will we play again.
Mentally, it will be tough to make a return after such a long break and balance matches and traveling again. I have been out of all that for a couple of years now but I had been through that in the past and I think the results will eventually come.
There are some new young guns on the Tour but I don't know much about them, never playing against them before. My team and I were preparing a comeback for May or June; now we have to wait and see how the situation with a coronavirus will develop but I can't wait to get back on the court.
We are all a little bit scared; things are serious and I'm trying to stay away from some bigger groups of people. I'm training with my small team and we are staying away from the gym."