Konta Latest Addition To Growing Brit Pack
Published August 30, 2012 01:58
NEW YORK, NY, USA - She may not know all the words to the national anthem just yet, but a battling victory in New York on Tuesday afternoon well and truly earned Johanna Konta her place among the WTA's burgeoning Brit pack.
Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta has been living in the sleepy English seaside town of Eastbourne since she was 14. And, as befitting someone with this worldly upbringing, she has taken the latest stop off on her global tour in her stride.
The US Open is just Konta's second appearance at a major and the opening round win over World No.59 Timea Babos was her first on tennis' grandest stage. But the 21-year-old is certainly not getting carried away.
"To be honest, I actually feel kind of normal," Konta said shortly after completing her 62 75 win. "As I would hope to."
Konta attributes her mature response to her experience at Wimbledon earlier this summer, when she came within a whisker of knocking out No.28 seed Christina McHale, only to lose a heart-breaking final set 10-8.
"I feel like I've matured since Wimbledon. That was definitely a big eye opener," she added. "A lot of things were going on. I recently became British, my first Grand Slam, my first main draw. It was an epic match.
"I think I got a lot of that initial nervousness out of the way there. So I feel much more prepared here with these sort of things. I'm just happy that I'm able to stay level."
How level headed she stays if her progress through the draw continues, though, remains to be seen. Next up is Olga Govortsova and despite the difference in ranking and experience - the Belarusian is No.67 in the world and appearing in her 22nd Grand Slam - Konta has a chance if she replicates the tigerish display that took her past Babos.
Reach the third round and she will really start to make some waves in her adopted homeland on the other side of the Atlantic. After years of paperwork and queues at the Home Office, Konta was finally granted British citizenship in May, allowing her to compete - officially - under the Union Jack alongside Laura Robson, Heather Watson et al.
"It was something that I very much wanted out of the way because I have wanted GBR next to my name for a very long time," Konta said of her passport ordeal. "To finally have it is just a pure weight off my shoulders.
"I got to the UK in 2005. When I originally got there, it wasn't straightaway a decision of 'Okay, now I'm going to become British.' It gradually became a process after spending some time there, getting to know the people who are involved in the LTA.
"Also, after I was doing reasonably well in juniors, there became more interest, the fact that I wasn't living in Australia any more. That all nudged things in that direction."
However, despite passing all the tests, completing all the paperwork and all but shaking off her old Australian twang, Konta is honest enough to admit that there is one glaring gap in knowledge - the national anthem.
"I'm embarrassed to say I don't know the national anthem yet," she confessed. "I promise - please write this - I promise I will learn it and quiz me next time!"