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.”
Shock defeat for Andy Murray as he is beaten in Rennes
The Russian is ranked 42 places below Murray.
John McEnroe speaks for the first time about comments over Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon exit
John McEnroe has insisted he has no…
Stunning TV figures for US Open finals confirm appeal of Emma Raducanu
The TV viewing figures are in for this year’s US Open and they confirm that more tuned in to watch the women’s final than the men’s final.
Emma Raducanu thinking about a return to the court after US Open heroics
Raducanu has admitted to still being on “cloud nine” after her stunning US Open victory.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives a glowing reference to Emma Raducanu
Jurgen Klopp has given newly crowned US Open champion Emma Raducanu a glowing endorsement.
Boris Johnson talks with Emma Raducanu and discusses growth of grassroots tennis
Jurgen Klopp and Jessica Ennis-Hill joined in with the widespread praise of the teenager from Kent.
Jurgen Klopp inspired by ‘talent of the century’ Emma Raducanu’s US Open win
The Reds boss was glued to his television on Saturday night.
A look at each area of Emma Raducanu’s game as she looks to build on US Open win
Raducanu’s return of serve is arguably her strongest asset.
Who claimed the most Twitter followers during the US Open? There is a big winner
New US Open champion Emma Raducanu has had a huge boost in her following after her heroics in New York.