'Boring' mind control allows Konta to scale new heights

Britain's Johanna Konta uses deep breathing and visualisation, and repeats positive phrases to herself to maintain her focus. The results are positive and she has risen 137 places in the world rankings since the end of 2014 to 13th.
Britain's Johanna Konta uses deep breathing and visualisation, and repeats positive phrases to herself to maintain her focus. The results are positive and she has risen 137 places in the world rankings since the end of 2014 to 13th.PHOTO: REUTERS

WUHAN • A "boring" mental technique which allows her to focus on match after match as if nothing else matters has left Johanna Konta knocking on the door of the world's top 10 - not that she lets herself worry about such things.

The 25-year-old burst onto the scene at last year's US Open and she has gone up another gear this season, winning her first WTA title and rising to 13th in the world.

As well as her victory at Stanford, Konta also became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final in 33 years at the Australian Open, equalling Virginia Wade and Sue Barker.

She now has a chance of reaching the elite - and lucrative - eight-player WTA Finals in Singapore, starting on Oct 23.

But when asked about the season finale, Konta's response is typically level-headed.

"It's one of those things that's the result of something else, so there's not much point in worrying about it or craving it or stressing, because it's not completely under your control," she said at the Wuhan Open in China yesterday.

"All I can do is focus on each match I get to play."

Even in an era when mind coaches are common, Konta's fierce commitment to her mental "processes" stands out.

She says she owes much to Spanish mind coach Juan Coto, with whom she started working in 2014, transforming from a nervy player into one with steely focus.

When asked about her mental technique, she explained: "It's basically treating yourself kindly when it's hardest to do so.

"And it's just a habit to get into."

Konta, born in Sydney to Hungarian parents, uses deep breathing and visualisation, and repeats positive phrases to herself to ensure she focuses on the aspects of a match she can control, rather than worrying about possible outcomes or bad shots.

The results are plain to see on court - Konta has soared 137 places since the end of 2014 to 13th in the world, making her the highest-ranked British woman since Jo Durie in 1983.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline ''Boring' mind control allows Konta to scale new heights'. Print Edition | Subscribe