British No.1 Johanna Konta won't be influenced by the home hope hype, according to her former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray.
Carrie Dunn

LONDON, England - British No.1 Johanna Konta can be a Grand Slam champion - and she could be a real contender for this year's Wimbledon title.

That's according to her former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray.

"I think Jo Konta is one of those players who has the chance to do very well in the Slams now," Murray said in an exclusive interview. "She’s proved that - getting to the semis of the Australian Open, getting into the Top 10.

"She has a very good serve, takes the ball very early off the ground, isn’t afraid to come forward to the net."

Murray is well aware of the pressure a British player can feel when competing at Wimbledon - both her sons have won titles there following intense media scrutiny. This year marks 40 years since Virginia Wade became the last British female singles champion in SW19, and it is likely that World No.7 Konta will become the focus of home hopes.

"It’s dangerous to look too far ahead in the draw – that first match is the most important," she added. "Being a British player at Wimbledon, you come in for a much greater amount of media and fan attention, and that can be distracting if you let it be. The important thing is to try and stay as under the radar as you can, be as calm as you can, and just stick to your routines and do what you have to do to try and get you through the match.

"I have seen it many times when British players just get so distracted by all this, the attention and the demands on their time, and you forget what you’re there for – to prepare to do your best in the tournament."

Murray is confident, however, that this is not a trap into which Konta will fall.

"Jo is one of the most professional and hard-working pros that I’ve ever come across," she said, "and I’m absolutely certain she won’t let anything distract her."

Judy Murray's new memoir, 'Knowing The Score', is out now.

Murray thinks the Wimbledon draw is wide open this year without 2016 champion Serena Williams - and predicts that any one of a number of players could benefit.

"There is no one stand-out player now on the women’s tour and so it’s a great opportunity for anybody to take their opportunities and work their way through," she said. "You usually find on grass that those who have the big serves, the ones who are prepared to come to the net, can start to do some damage because there are so few grass courts around the world; it’s the event where less of the top players are comfortable. It lends itself to the chance of an upset and none more so than this year in the absence of Serena."