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Konta to shine at US Open: Rusedski

 

Chance: Johanna Konta is seeking to rediscover her form at US Open
Chance: Johanna Konta is seeking to rediscover her form at US Open

By Eleanor Crooks

Former British number one Greg Rusedski has backed Johanna Konta to recover from a loss of form in time to put in a good display at the US Open.

The 28-year-old has been struggling for results since a surprise quarter-final defeat to Barbora Strycova at Wimbledon earlier in the summer.

Konta reacted angrily to questions about her game in the immediate aftermath of the loss on Centre Court and has since slipped to defeats in Toronto and Cincinnati as she steps up preparation for Flushing Meadows, which gets under way on Monday

The world number 16 has reached the fourth round of the US Open twice, in 2015 and 2016, and despite her recent woes Rusedski believes she is the best British hope of success in New York.

"The winner of the men's singles is quite easy," Rusedski said.

"It is between Novak Djokovic and (Rafael) Nadal and I'm picking Novak, but in the ladies there are about 10 players who can win the title - it is wide open.

"I think Jo on the women's side, she got to the semis of the French Open, the quarters of Wimbledon, so she will be our best chance.

"Jo can turn things around pretty quickly and the women's game is so wide open at the moment.

"She loves the hard courts, the biggest title she has won was in Miami but a major is different.

"She has done her preparation, she has done what she needed to and hopefully if the draw works out well she can gain some confidence from her first and second-round matches then anything can happen."

While Rusedski feels Konta could turn her recent results around, home favourite Serena Williams will once again be aiming for her record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams, who is currently one title behind Margaret Court, has lost her last three finals - but Rusedski does not think it is due to pressure but more the emergence of several competitors who are able to beat the 37-year-old.

"I don't think it is a mental block, I think the fear factor isn't the same as it used to be," he said.

"She used to have the Tiger Woods effect - if you get to the final round you knew Tiger was going to win the major.

"Now when you get into the final, there is not that fear factor, if an opponent brings their A-game and if it's good enough, they can win. It makes it more difficult for her with all the other women stepping up as well."

Andy Murray will be missing from the men's draw having opted to step up his comeback from hip surgery by playing at the Winston-Salem ATP event, where he lost in the first round to Tennys Sandgren. His absence, according to Rusedski, makes Dan Evans the British hope most likely to go far into the US Open this time around as he continues to rebuild his career after a one-year drugs ban.

"Dan Evans nearly beat Stan Wawrinka - he had match points - when he won the US title in 2016 and he is the best British player in the men's this year bar none," he said.

"He has had an amazing comeback and if the draw works out he should be the last Brit standing. Sometimes you need to take that step backwards, everyone is talking about the ban but it forced him to grow up and mature."

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