Johanna Konta: ‘I’m playing against Coco Gauff, not her social media following’
Johanna Konta has vowed not to be overawed by teenage superstar Coco Gauff in the first round of the French Open.
Konta’s clash with 16-year-old Gauff on Sunday will be one of the highlights of the opening round.
This is the American’s main-draw debut at Roland Garros but she is already a proven grand slam competitor having reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and the Australian Open and the third round of the US Open.
Taking on Gauff is a psychological challenge for more experienced players, and one that many women have already struggled with.
i’m back in my favorite city in the world🥰 pic.twitter.com/HpEqILucsU
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 23, 2020
Konta is determined not to fall into that trap, saying: “I’m very clear on the fact that I’m going in playing another professional tennis player who is one of the best ranked in the world.
“It doesn’t matter if she’s 14 or 40. I think she’s there for a reason. It’s going out on court respecting the player that I’m about to play. I’m going to be playing against the tennis that she brings, not her social media following, not her persona.”
Gauff is ranked 51, just two short of her career best, although she has only won one of her last four matches and must deal with sky-high expectations wherever she plays.
Konta, who is aiming for another good fortnight after her brilliant run to the semi-finals last year, said: “I think it’s quite normal, whenever there’s a young player that does exceptionally well, it is going to be sensationalised. It is just the nature of sport.
View this post on Instagram
“I don’t know her that well. I know she’s very mature for her age. That’s why she’s able to compete at the level she’s competing. She’s physically and mentally mature enough to deal with the demands we have on tour.
“Obviously she’s going to just keep getting better and better. It’s going to be a very good challenge for me. I’m looking forward to playing her.”
Gauff has shown remarkable maturity off the court as well by taking on a leading role in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The teenager addressed the crowds during a protest in her home town of Delray Beach in June with an emotional, off-the-cuff speech.
View this post on Instagram
Konta said: “I think there’s a few players on our circuit who this movement will hit a lot closer to home maybe than other people.
“I think her and Sloane (Stephens) and Naomi (Osaka) have all been very vocal, rightly so. I think it just shows her maturity. It shows obviously that she’s been able to grow this platform that she has. She’s using it towards something that she believes in.”
Carlos Alcaraz starts with a win as he targets Novak Djokovic’s No 1 ranking
Alcaraz has now set his sights on claiming the year-end world No 1 title from Novak Djokovic.
Carlos Alcaraz on the pressure of knocking Novak Djokovic off his perch
Carlos Alcaraz insists he is not feeling the pressure in his battle with Novak Djokovic.
Furious chinese star Zheng Qinwen slams ‘Immoral’ coach for dropping her mid-contract
Chinese No 1 Zheng Qinwen has slammed coach Wim Fissette.
Veronika Kudermetova singles out self-belief over tactics as reason behind win over Iga Swiatek
Veronika Kudermetova believes that a positive mindset was the key to her finally earning a victory over Iga Swiatek.
Daniil Medvedev lifts the lid on tennis travel struggles
Daniil Medvedev has opened up on the brutality of the ATp Tour schedule.
Legends insist Roger Federer will ‘always be the GOAT’ ahead of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Legends of the game insists Roger Federer is still in the GOAT debate.
Camila Giorgi’s revealing photos make her an Instagram influencer – but Serena Williams is the GOAT
Giorgi has an impressive 733k followers on Instagram, with her fans lapping up the regular images of her in his latest designer clothing.
Top five ultimate tennis meltdowns after Andy Murray’s epic racket smash
Andy Murray is not alone in losing his temper on court and here at five of the biggest meltdowns of all-time.
Coco Gauff to make WTA Tour return in Beijing, confirms Zhengzhou entry
Coco Gauff is set to return to WTA Tour action in Beijing.