Rollercoaster fan Konta hoping to avoid ups and downs at US Open

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Johanna Konta (right) was beaten by Venus Williams in the semi-finals at Wimbledon
US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 Aug-10 Sept
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches every day.

Johanna Konta is all about the preparation – whether it be a Grand Slam match or a trip to the funfair.

The British number one will resume her quest for a first major title at the US Open next week, with Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic, the world number 77, her first-round opponent.

Konta arrived in the US after finding time for some extra-curricular activities following her Wimbledon breakthrough.

A backstage pass for her favourite band U2 – “Bono kissed my hand, I haven’t washed it!” – could have been matched for excitement by a rare theme-park visit, if only she had got her strategy right.

“I’m a massive rollercoaster fan,” said the 26-year-old.

“I went in Cincinnati – really, really frustrated with my approach to it. I should have gone really early in the morning and got a fast-pass, because I only got on five rides in four hours.

“The last one I queued for an hour and, oh my goodness, it sucks the life out of you.”

That appears to be about as stressful as things have got for Konta recently, despite a nerve-jangling run through Wimbledon that ended with defeat by Venus Williams in the semi-finals.

After climbing the rankings spectacularly from 147th to inside the world’s top 10 in two years, widespread national recognition finally came with that thrilling run at the All England Club.

How Johanna Konta is aiming to become world number one

Konta glows with pride when the television audience of 7.4 million viewers – the largest of Wimbledon 2017 – for her quarter-final win over Simona Halep is mentioned, but there has apparently been no hangover.

“It was probably my easiest Wimbledon experience, which was very interesting,” she said.

“I felt I did a very good job of digesting each match and each day very separately, and I was able to move on and recover for the next day.

“I didn’t feel like I had this big build-up of emotion, so once I came to the end of the championships I felt I was ready for the next one.”

The next one was in fact an opening-match defeat by Ekaterina Makarova in Toronto, before Konta won two matches in Cincinnati and eventually succumbed to world number two Halep.

“I think the quality of matches has been good,” said the Briton.

“Obviously the volume of matches – I could have gotten more, but I’m also happy I got have four great matches coming in.”

Konta has 36 wins and more than £2m in prize money to her name already this year, cementing her place in the top 10 and closing in on a debut appearance at the season-ending WTA Finals for the top eight players in the world.

However, shock results abound in a women’s tour that is notable for the even spread of talent, especially in the absence of an all-time great in Serena Williams.

Konta needed to find her very best as early as the second round at Wimbledon, eventually beating Donna Vekic, the world number 52, 10-8 in the final set.

“I really believe that it’s been that way for some time now,” she said.

“There haven’t been easy matches for quite some time and I think it’s a good thing that people start appreciating and actually noticing it.

“It’s a very exciting thing as a spectator coming to a Slam and knowing you’re going to have great matches all the way through and not just from the semi-finals.

“I think that’s a very positive thing for the sport in general.”

Venus Williams beats Johanna Konta to secure her place in the 2017 Wimbledon final

In line with many of her peers, Konta refuses to look past her first opponent and deeper into the draw, but she thrives on hard courts and there is every reason to believe she can improve on her fourth-round efforts of the past two years at Flushing Meadows.

She could even end the tournament as world number one, given an especially outlandish set of results, but that prospect is greeted with laughter, at least for now.

A gruelling two weeks lie ahead if Konta is to become the first British woman to win a major singles title since Virginia Wade 40 years ago.

“I approach every tournament from the get-go that it’s going to be tough and I accept that fact,” said Konta.

“I’m not looking for any confirmation or any relief because I’ve accepted the fact that from my first match, I’m going to have a tough battle.”

At least she can look forward to some more light relief when the day job is done, with a trip to Harry Potter World on the cards when her sister visits London in November.

It will be hard to live up to meeting her idols at last month’s U2 concert in Dublin, however.

“I got to meet Bono and The Edge before the show,” said Konta.

“I got invited backstage and intercepted them while they were heading to physio, which was so cool for me to hear – that they were doing physio!

“I was literally like, ‘Oh my god, they know my name!’ It was definitely a life-made moment.”

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