For Johanna Konta the opening weeks of the new season could hardly have gone any better. With the Sydney trophy already in the bag, she heads to the Australian Open with her tail up and another deep run beckoning.
WTA Staff

For Johanna Konta, the opening weeks of the new season could hardly have gone any better. Picking up from where she left off at the end of 2016, Konta has continued to rack up the wins and on Friday evening collected her second career title thanks to a dominant victory over World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska at the Apia International Sydney.

Success in Sydney will have tasted particularly sweet for Konta, who was born in Sydney and learnt the game in the nearby suburb of Collaroy before moving to Britain as a teenager.

Her return to Australia's cultural capital has afforded plenty of time to catch up with old friends and family, including elder sister Eva, who is married to AFL player Shane Mumford.

"I'm just really happy I get to stay here a little bit longer," Konta said after her quarterfinal win over Daria Kasatkina.

"I think it's more just about prolonging my stay here, more than anything, because I get to spend a bit more time with my sister."

However, with one piece of silverware in the bag the 25-year-old's focus is now firmly set on the Australian Open, where she reached the semifinals 12 months ago. Friday's draw handed her a first-round date against Kirsten Flipkens, with Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova also lurking in her quarter.

The last British player to win the tournament was Virginia Wade in 1972, and on current form, the Briton will fancy her chances against all-comers. Ever the consummate professional, though, she is taking nothing for granted: "I'm really pleased with just the amount of matches I have been able to play. Obviously how I have done here, I take it as a really positive thing, as a nice reward along the way for the hard work that myself and my team have put in every day.

"But it's not a reflection of how next week will go, how the rest of the year will go. It's back to everyday hard work, because that's what dictates how I do."

A meticulous approach to each and every aspect of her game has characterized Konta's rapid ascent of the tennis ladder. As impressive as her shotmaking is at times, her mental fortitude is arguably the cornerstone of her game.

During the off-season Konta parted ways with Esteban Carril, the coach who helped chart her passage from the outer extremities of the Top 100 to the game's elite. Impressively, the changes behind the scenes - which also included the death of sports psychologist Juan Coto - do not seem to have jolted Konta from her unerring path to the game's summit.

She is now working with the much-respected Wim Fissette, who looks to have successfully harnessed the career momentum that has helped her win 22 of her past 27 matches.

Fissette, who has worked with Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and most famously Kim Clijsters, has a fine track record. In Konta he has another potential success story on his hands.

The next step for his charge is Grand Slam glory. She has tasted it briefly, reaching the US Open fourth round twice, as well as last year's run at Melbourne Park, and her consistency bodes well for another good showing over the coming fortnight.

"I do feel with myself that I am playing a good level. And the way it's coming through, so far, is it's been consistent over the last two weeks," Konta said after beating Radwanska.

"But like I said, it's no reflection of how the Australian Open will go? There are so many things that are a factor, and most importantly, I will continue to look at my health, happiness. And again, that will give me the best shot at trying to be consistent, like Aga. That's pretty hard."

She will begin her campaign on Tuesday, offering sufficient time to recover from her Sydney exploits. The conditions in Melbourne are likely to be every bit as brutal as they were in Sydney, where the WTA's heat rule came into play on several occasions.

Konta began refueling for the battles ahead in the moments following the trophy ceremony, a British favorite getting her ready for the Antipodean press pack. "Because it's quite late, I'm not too sure [what to eat]. I had a ham-and-cheese toasty, which was amazing!"