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The Draw: 24 June

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Wednesday 28 December 2016 10:50 AM GMT
Wimbledon defeat features on Konta's highlight reel
Despite losing in the second round at The Championships, Konta's Wimbledon campaign features highly in her own highlight reel... READ MORE

A second round defeat features heavily in Jo Konta's highlights reel for 2016 (a film she has been editing in her head, as she's far too sane and grounded to have been creating an actual showreel). 

A curious choice, you might think, when this was a year in which she made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, thus becoming the first British woman to run that deep at a Grand Slam since the 1980s. And when she had so much other success on the tour that she was the first British female since the 1980s to be ranked in the world's top 10. But this was no ordinary second round loss - it was a second-round defeat at The Championships, with Konta speaking of "the aura" of the All England Club and its grass courts. 

For Konta, one of the pleasures of playing at this year's Wimbledon was the privilege of being in the seeds' locker-room. It was also a thrill to play a match on Centre Court, where she lost a three-setter to Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, a Wimbledon finalist in 2014. "I've made a shortlist of the things that really stood out for me in 2016, and that list isn't just about the tennis but also about the experiences. One of those was being a seed at Wimbledon and getting to use the seeds' locker-room. I guess it's not that different to the locker-room for the other players but there's a certain aura to it," Konta told 

2016, Day 3 Highlights, Johanna Konta vs Monica Puig
2016, Day 4 Highlights, Eugenie Bouchard vs Johanna Konta

"The Championships themselves have that aura, playing at Wimbledon is just different to anywhere else in tennis. I played a match on Centre Court against Bouchard. I lost that match, but at the time it was probably one of the highest-level matches I had been a part of," added Konta, who was on the shortlist for the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award. 

Given her status in the sport now, Konta will be expected to improve on her Wimbledon record when she returns to the lawns next summer. After five visits, she has won just one match, which was her opening-round victory over Puerto Rico's Monica Puig at this year's event. Her first four Wimbledons ended in the opening round, though perhaps she was a little unlucky with her draw in 2015 when she was paired with former champion Maria Sharapova. Set against her results at this year's Australian Open, and also fourth-round finishes at the 2015 and 2016 US Opens, and you can see why there is scope for improvement on the Wimbledon grass. 

It's not as if Konta can't play on the surface, as she demonstrated at this year's pre-Wimbledon tournament in her home town of Eastbourne, beating Petra Kvitova, a former Wimbledon champion, en route to the semi-finals.

"I enjoy all surfaces so I don't have a favourite Grand Slam surface to play on. I definitely don't have a phobia about any of the surfaces," said Konta, who, after ending her association with her Spanish coach Esteban Carril, has turned to Belgian Wim Fissette (who has previously worked with Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka). In a desperately sad end to 2016, Konta's mind guru, Spaniard Juan Coto, passed away in mid-November at the age of 47, but their work will continue to be a part of what she does in the future, including trying to better herself at the All England Club. 

"With every surface, there will be adaptions you will make to your game, and you're going to get sore in different areas of the body as you make that transition. There's a physical adaption and you also have to change your approach. On grass, you generally won't hit too many kick serves as the ball isn't going to kick up that high on grass. You're going to be hitting more slice serves. You're thinking about how your shots react to the surface and to the conditions." 

For Konta, as for everyone else in tennis, it's never too early to be thinking about British summertime and the Wimbledon grass. 

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