As news of Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the Australian Open is still fresh in the minds of British tennis fans, hopes for success in 2018 seemingly rest in Johanna Konta’s hands. But, following her retirement against Elina Svitolina at the Brisbane International, there are concerns about the Wimbledon semi-finalist’s fitness ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year. With big ranking points to defend in January, Tom Madden and Nick Whittaker look at what absence from the Sydney International and Australian Open might mean for the Brit.Embed from Getty Images
How many rankings points does Jo Konta have to defend?
Within the first month of her season, Konta collected a total of 1010 points, after making the semi finals of Shenzhen (110 points), winning the Premier title at Sydney (470 points) and reaching the quarter finals at the Australian Open (430 points). Defeat at the Quarter Final stage of the Brisbane International means that she will only drop 10 points in week one. However, depending on how bad her injury is, the dropped points could become more substantial.
Konta has stated that she hopes to defend her title next week: “”I will definitely give it the maximum amount of time to be able to play in Sydney.” This spirited optimism shows that the Brit certainly expects to play in Melbourne, but that Sydney is no guarantee.
It would be a shame for Konta, who used last year’s Australian swing to start the year impressively. After taking February off in 2017, she then resumed play in March getting as far as R32 at Indian Wells (65 points) and then conquering the biggest title of her career; the Miami Open (1000 points). While we’re still learning the full extent of Konta’s injury, a setback could see her fall down the rankings and lose her top 16 seeding ahead of the summer Grand Slams.
That said, Konta does have a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on a poor clay court season from 2017. Of the four clay tournaments she played, Konta only assembled a total of 180 points at Stuttgart (55 points), Madrid (10 points), Rome (105 points), and the French Open (10 points). While clay is Konta’s worst surface, fans will be hoping to see the influence of Michael Joyce in Paris.
Her form in Brisbane was extremely promising and a slight injury setback shouldn’t deter fans from getting excited. Her level against Madison Keys was outstanding, while she also showed fantastic strength to gain victory over Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets. Before retiring against Svitolina, she was also in scintillating form, playing breathtaking tennis thanks to her powerful shot-making.
Whatever happens in Sydney, British (and general tennis) fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that Jo Konta is fully fit for the Australian Open, which starts in just 11 days time.