THE HAVE A JO HERO; From nowhere, Briton Konta might just be a real contender.
Byline: ANDY DUNN firstname.lastname@example.org
LET'S face it, in the eyes of the general public, Johanna Konta is the British star who has risen without trace.
She is the world's seventh best female tennis player but was hardly a household name.
Not any more. In Centre Court's furnace, she scorched herself into the sporting consciousness. Three hours and 10 minutes of attritional excellence, with a finale of nerve-holding gutsiness, woke the nation to the notion it might just have a woman to win Wimbledon for the first time in 40 years.
In arguably the match of the Championships so far Konta radiated champion qualities. Not least, bottle.
Since Konta became a British citizen in 2012, her family having moved here from her Aussie birthplace when she was 14, she's been pretty much allergic to Wimbledon grass.
Exits in the first round 2012, first round 2013, first round 2014, first round 2015, second round 2016. Now she has made it to the third round, together with compatriot Heather Watson, the first time since 1986 that two British women have done so.
Konta's progress into the last 32 came at the expense of world No.58 Donna Vekic, who beat her in the Nottingham Open Final. In 14 Grand Slam appearances, though, she has reached one semi-final.
So foundations to get carried away are not exactly mineshaft deep. Without Serena Williams, though, the women's draw is wide open and, coming into the tournament, Konta's form on the surface boasted victory over topranked Angelique Kerber and French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko.
She now faces Maria Sakkari, of Greece, who is ranked 101st in the world.
Konta, 26, doesn't have a favourite's chance of winning Wimbledon but she has a chance and it's a long time since Britain has been able to say that about its ladies singles' competitors.
She said: "I intend to be here for two weeks but there are no easy matches."
There was nothing easy about overcoming Vekic, the 21-year-old Croatian girlfriend of men's No.5 seed Stan Wawrinka in the epic 6-7 6-4 8-10 win.
Konta said: "I love playing in front of British crowds. It makes it more special to have home support.
"Not many players get a home Slam, so I feel very fortunate about that.
"The arena is one of the best in the world."
Maybe, just maybe, she had better get used to it.
IN WITH A ROAR Jo Konta could make title bid this year
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jul 6, 2017|
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