Johanna Konta: ‘It’s Nice We Have Something To Play’

Johanna Konta (@johannakonta/Instagram)

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

British No. 1 Johanna Konta was asked on Sunday to describe how important it is to her to get some good matches in during the Melbourne Summer Series week ahead of the Australian Open. After all, Konta hasn’t competed since losing to Coco Gauff in the first round of the French Open last fall. The 29-year-old Konta, born in Sydney, just emerged from a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving, in which she had limited time each day to get outside of her hotel to practice. On Tuesday, Konta defeated No. 63 Bernarda Pera of the United States, 6-2, 6-3, in her first match since arriving in Australia.

“I mean, obviously even on a normal season, we always look forward to the lead-up events into the Australian Open,” the World No. 14 Konta said. “So, normally, obviously we have Brisbane or Auckland or Shenzhen, all those tournaments, which we don’t have this year. It’s nice we have something to play.

“I think everyone feels very lucky to be out of the quarantine period and practicing, preparing to start to compete this week.”

Konta, who is seeded fifth in the Gippsland Trophy, was asked to describe her experience serving on the WTA Players Council during the coronavirus pandemic. She said:

“To be honest, it’s just been humbling to see how hard everyone is just trying to do the best that they can to keep our sport alive. I think maybe not enough acknowledgment or recognition has come from the fact that tennis is such a global sport. So, the fact that we were even able to limp through 2020 and are still really trying hard to put stuff together for this year and get things going is a real big feat.

“The amount of players we have coming from all over the world, from the tournaments and how hard they’re working to make stuff happen. I think there’s just a lot of kudos to everyone involved in this sport in trying to keep it going, hopefully get it flourishing again at some point when the world allows.”

Coco Gauff: Stay positive, test negative

After her 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) first-round victory against No. 57 Jil Teichmann in the Gippsland Trophy, 16-year-old Coco Gauff, ranked 48th, was asked how anxious she was feeling, especially in the final set: “To be honest, I felt really relaxed the whole time. Like sometimes, I get nervous, but today I wasn’t nervous because I knew I was trying my hardest, and that’s all you can really do out there on the court.

“I had this new mindset; I mean, you just keep fighting to the end and if it goes your way, that’s great, and if it doesn’t at least you know you did everything you can. But being anxious never helps me when I play, so I try not to do that.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Gauff was unable to sustain any momentum she gained Monday’s comeback victory or from going ahead after the first set against No. 369 Katie Boulter of Great Britain. Boulter rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win against Gauff, hitting 23 winners and taking advantage of 30 unforced errors by the young American. Gauff had her chances earlier, serving for the match at 6-3, 5-4, but couldn’t cross the finish line.

Bianca Andreescu: Out of the Grampians Cup

World No. 8 Bianca Andreescu hasn’t played a competitive match since 2019. She missed all of last year. Now, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer for her return. On Tuesday, Andreescu withdrew as the No. 1 seed in the Grampians Cup, a WTA 500-series event comprised of players who underwent a strict quarantine after arriving in Melbourne, having been in close contact with passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 during their flights to Australia.

Last week, The Guardian’s Tumaini Carayol interviewed Andreescu and wrote this very thoughtful article:

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What they’re saying

David Goffin, the top seed in this week’s ATP 250 Great Ocean Road Open: “I’m feeling great to be back. I think first the quarantine went well; [I] was not in a hard quarantine, so I had the chance to hit some balls every day with Grigor Dimitrov.

“We had some good sessions, good practice sessions. Just to see the sun and just to practice, to move a little bit every day it was easier if you compare to the guys that were completely locked in their room for 14 days. So, it was great.Now I’m free, free to practice, free to go out. It’s a great feeling. I’m feeling great. I’m practicing well. I hit the ball well. Everything’s fine for the moment. So, I’m excited to start the first tournament here.”


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Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is playing for Team Greece in this week’s ATP Cup: “This honestly is my favorite event. It reminds me a little bit of Laver Cup, only I feel, I don’t know, the leader and the one that gives us the opportunity for this to take place and happen.

“It’s a responsibility. I feel that we’re given a very good opportunity and chance to be standing right here now, being able to compete with all the boys that I’ve known for so long.

“It’s a great thing. Laver Cup, I only understood that it became my favorite tournament once it was completed. Obviously, we won. It’s a big bonus. It’s a big correlation, Laver Cup and ATP Cup. I feel the pride very much. It’s definitely one of my favorite tournaments of the year. It unites us, it gives us the opportunity to play for something special, to play, feel proud when we’re out on the court playing tennis.”

What they’re writing‘s Steve Tignor weighs in on American Frances Tiafoe. Two years after his Australian Open breakthrough, can the 23-year-old become the “different guy” he wants to be?

What they’re sharing on social media

Conchita Martinez / Libertad!

Garbiñe Muguruza / Freedom!

Sloane Stephens / We’re back!