Wow. Watching Johanna Konta, a woman who only broke into the top 50 in late 2015, dismantle World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-2 in the Sydney Open this morning, “wow” was the only word to capture her performance.
Radwanska is famed for her defensive abilities, able to retrieve the most well struck and well placed of balls, so Konta’s 33 winners tell their own story. She had a game plan of playing controlled but aggressive tennis, and it worked. Konta only had to defend one break point over two sets, but broke Radwanksa three times.
Her performance could be summed up in the all-important final game. Yes, by then she had a double-break in her pocket, but Johanna still needed to serve out for victory. And those serves were amazing.
Each time (well, with one exception) they were placed hard, flat and accurately into the corners, winning two points with aces and forcing errors with the other two. Konta only made one mistake, choosing a delicate drop shot when she should have hit a trademark forehand drive, but otherwise it was near enough a perfect game.
Here at Tennis Talent, we’re keen to celebrate British success but also to translate those victories onto the court. So what is there to learn from Konta on this occasion? There are many choices, but here are our top three:
- Be aggressive and don’t let the misses pull you down. Konta made 29 unforced errors yet still won the match easily, and that’s because her strong shots were forcing errors from the brilliant Radwanksa. As amateurs, we’re too easily dissuaded from going for our shots because we make mistakes, but there’s only one way to improve – and it’s not pitter-patter tennis
- Turn your serve into a weapon. One of the criticisms laid at Konta in the past is that her serve didn’t match the best, but that’s no longer true. She’s put an amazing amount of work into this side of her game and it now wins her so many “free points”. If the only time you serve is in friendly matches, yours will never get better.
- Stay focused. It would have been easy for Jo to lose focus after winning the first set 6-4 against a former world no.2, and the woman who defeated her in last year’s China Open final, but instead she powered on to win the first four games of the second set. How many times do we amateur players think victory is in our pocket after winning the first set, only to lose concentration… and the second set?