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Konta hopes a new direction will lead her to success in 2019

 

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta

By Eleanor Crooks

Johanna Konta heads into what she hopes will be a more positive 2019 season buoyed by two new men in her life.

After the high of reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals in the summer of 2017 and climbing to fourth in the world rankings, it has been a rocky 18 months for the British number one.

Her Wimbledon success was followed by a dramatic burn-out which saw her win just two more matches that season and she ended an inconsistent 2018 campaign with her ranking having dropped to 37.

Konta won only two grand slam matches all season, and it was no surprise when her coaching relationship with Michael Joyce came to an end after less than a year.

But 2018 had a positive ending in October when Konta put together her best string of results to reach the semi-finals in Moscow during a trial week with French coach Dimitri Zavialoff.

That quickly turned into a permanent partnership and, after a month of pre-season training, Konta and Zavialoff headed to Australia last night ahead of her first tournament of the new season in Brisbane.

Zavialoff guided Stan Wawrinka for nearly 20 years and also coached his fellow Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, and Konta is feeling very positive about the relationship.

She said: "I think last season I didn't have many quarter-final, semi-final opportunities so getting to the end of a tournament was definitely a good feeling to have in the last tournament of the year.

"We've been in this place many times and it doesn't always guarantee that it kicks off well but I definitely feel I've had a very strong pre-season so that has given me a good chance to have a good overall 2019.

"He (Zavialoff) is teaching me to be quite self-sufficient on court, it is much more of a partnership than I have had in previous coaching relationships. Therefore hopefully it will make me better equipped to deal with challenges on court."

Zavialoff is Konta's fourth coach in as many years, with Wim Fissette and Joyce both only lasting a season after following Spaniard Esteban Carril, who helped the 27-year-old break through at the top of the game.

Konta is hoping this latest partnership will turn out to be a long-term one, adding: "I definitely look to cultivate those kind of relationships."

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