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Konta gets used to rockstar lifestyle ahead of glory bid

 

By Paul Newman

It has taken a while for Johanna Konta to appreciate how big a name she has become, but after her stunning success at Wimbledon this summer, the World No.7 was left in little doubt how much life is changing for her.

The 7.4 million BBC viewers who watched Konta's quarter-final victory over Simona Halep last month represented the biggest TV audience at this summer's tournament and was a million more than watched the men's final.

Since Wimbledon, Konta has become aware of how much more she is recognised on the street, though the moment that brought home how much of an impact she has made came in Ireland shortly after the tournament.

The 26-year-old Briton is a big fan of U2 and received a personal invitation from the band to their concert in Dublin after she had been unable to attend their Twickenham date because of her Wimbledon commitments.

Konta, who is here preparing for the start of the US Open next week, recalled: "When I was going to meet them, I was like: 'Oh, are you sure? I feel like they're probably being forced to meet me'.

"It was nice because Bono basically kissed my hand and said he's so happy that I'm there, and the Edge as well. He said: 'We're so happy you are here, you did so well.' I was like: 'Oh my goodness, they know my name!' It was one of those moments.

"Basically I intercepted them as they were heading to get ready. They were getting physio done, which is such a cool thing to hear. So I basically interrupted their routine a little bit and them going to warm up."

The experience at Wimbledon, where she became the first British woman to reach the singles semi-finals since 1978, has left Konta in a good frame of mind going into the year's final Grand Slam event, where she is one of eight women who could finish the tournament as World No.1.

"I felt I did really well with Wimbledon," a relaxed Konta said here at her Manhattan hotel.

"I felt I digested the occasion daily. I felt like each match that I played I was able to enjoy and experience and really digest it along the way."

Konta said she hadn't yet looked back on any video tapes of her memorable performances at the All England Club, which included epic victories over both Halep and Donna Vekic.

"Once Wimbledon ended, I didn't feel like I needed to absorb or look back and appreciate it because I really felt like I was able to do that each step of the way," she said.

"That was a very nice thing for me because it meant that I didn't get overwhelmed at any stage, which is a positive thing for me because I don't think it can get more intense and busy than Wimbledon.

She added: "It wasn't my first Wimbledon. Fortunately going into Wimbledon I had already experienced in a very condensed time-frame so many different scenarios since last year's Australian Open. I think with that going into Wimbledon I was able to reinvest that experience and actually draw from it in my career at Wimbledon."

On the day after Wimbledon Konta went to Liverpool.

"I actually got some fitness testing done there," she said.

"We had always planned it for that Monday after Wimbledon. We did some testing there with the nutritionist that I work with just so we had it in the bank. I got to see Liverpool as a city. I saw the waterfront. I really enjoyed it. I also got to Media City, which was cool as well. I did a day at the BBC. That was very full-on but again a very good experience."

After some time at home in London, Konta began her summer hard-court campaign in Toronto, where she lost first time out to the experienced Russian Ekaterina Makarova. She then reached the quarter-finals in Cincinnati, where she lost a tight match to Halep.

It has been a lighter schedule than some of the other leading women have played since Wimbledon, but Konta said: "I was curious to see how many matches I had played this year compared with last year. Until last week I think I had played four more matches this year. It may seem like a lighter schedule but it's not. It's deceiving.

"Physically I feel pretty good. Once you get to this stage of the season, you do feel the travelling and a lot of miles under your belt. I actually feel pretty good. I feel excited. I'm still very clear and comfortable with how I am on the court. Physically, mentally, emotionally I am pretty good."

Chris Evert said earlier this week that she had been disappointed with Konta's form since Wimbledon, but the Briton insisted: "I think I made the most of my build-up [for the US Open]. My first match after Wimbledon was against Makarova. I've played a lot of good matches against her. She's a very good player. People forget she has made the fourth round or better at every Slam.

"She has been around for a very long time and she had just come off the back of winning Washington. She was coming into that match with a lot of match momentum, unlike me. I hadn't played a match in three weeks so I knew going in that it wasn't going to be easy. I actually felt quite happy with how I played that match.

"I like to think that the three matches I played in Cincinnati I got better with each match. In terms of my build-up, I feel quite happy. Obviously it could have been better results-wise. I could have won both events, but it didn't happen. But it doesn't mean that I feel bad about it. I feel pretty good with where I'm at right now."

Konta's best results have been on hard courts, but she does not necessarily believe that the US Open offers her the best chance of winning her first Grand Slam title.

"I think I did pretty well in Australia and at Wimbledon, and I like to think I will do well at the French Open," she said.

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