Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2017 Miami Open.
In what’s quickly become a theme so far in this young 2017 season, Johanna Konta excelled this past week.
You see, the native of Eastbourne in England captured the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open. As the 10th-seed, Konta played six matches in Miami, the first half of which weren’t all that difficult. But then came the quarterfinals and a win over Simona Halep, followed by a win over Venus Williams and, finally, a win over ex-No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the final by the score of 6-4 and 6-3. And she did it in style, winning on an absolute stunner of a lob shot.
Simply put, there aren’t many on the WTA currently playing as well as the 25-year-old, who has pushed her 2017 record to 19-3 after last week. This was her second final at her previous three Mandatory events going back to last season, and this time Konta was the aggressor against Wozniacki with 33 winners and 19 unforced errors.
— Johanna Konta (@JoKonta91) April 1, 2017
The importance of the title wasn’t lost on her. “I think I can take a lot out of these two weeks,” she said. “It was a good run. I can take a lot out of this first part of year in general. I think I can take a lot of positives from that and just build on it. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to learn from the things that I can do better, but at the same time not beat myself up too much and just keep working and doing what I’m doing.”
What she’s been doing has been to generally fast-forward her progression in high gear, to the point that she is now ranked a career-high No. 7 and sits at No. 2 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard. If the WTA’s year-end championship were to unfold this week, and it obviously doesn’t but if it did, then Konta would be among the invitees—and probably one of the two main favourites too.
It’s not so long ago that the Brit was anything but seemingly perhaps the WTA’s next top player. After all, here are Konta’s year-end rankings dating back, from 2010 and onward: 248, 305, 153, 112, 150, 47 and 10. That’s right, up until maybe 24 or so months ago, Konta still hadn’t accomplished much on the WTA. Then came a run to the US Open fourth round as a qualifier in 2015, followed by a semifinal berth at the Australian Open and a first title at Stanford in 2016. She, seemingly, had started to put it all together.
If last season was her ascent, this 2017 season, with already two titles, profiles as her arrival. Welcome to the top, Johanna. Now all you gotta do is figure out a way to stick there.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG