Home is where the heart is for Johanna Konta as British No 1 works hard for the start of the new season

While many players spend their off-seasons training in warmer climes, Konta prefers to do her work at Roehampton, where she has been getting to know her new coach, Michael Joyce

Paul Newman
Tuesday 12 December 2017 21:54 GMT
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Johanna Konta will not be disappearing to Monte Carlo anytime soon
Johanna Konta will not be disappearing to Monte Carlo anytime soon (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The number of tennis players who live in Monte Carlo tells you how financially beneficial it can be to become a tax exile, but Johanna Konta does not expect to be joining their ranks.

During a break on Tuesday from her off-season training programme at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, Konta was asked whether she would consider moving to another part of the world, particular one which would offer warm-weather training facilities and tax benefits.

“For me personally I'm against it,” Konta said. “It's not something that would work for me. This is my home and I know if you move your residency outside of here, you can only spend a certain amount of time in the country.

“I don't want to be restricted with how much time I get to spend at home. I'm not going to put myself in that position, so I'll happily pay my taxes and spend my time at home.”

While many players spend their off-seasons training in warmer climes, Konta prefers to do her work at Roehampton, where she has been getting to know her new coach, Michael Joyce. It is just a few miles away from her London apartment and she relishes the time she can spend at home.

Joyce, a Californian, lives in Florida, but 26-year-old Konta is not even tempted by the thought of making the United States her training base, although she would be open to the idea of training there at times, particularly when it fits in with her tournament schedule.

Konta was born in Australia to Hungarian parents but has lived in Britain since she was 14. “That’s fast approaching half my life now,” she said. “I’m always going to be looking to trying to spend time at home and train here.”

Joyce used to coach former World No 1 Sharapova
Joyce used to coach former World No 1 Sharapova (Getty)

Joyce, who used to coach Maria Sharapova, will be travelling full-time with Konta next year, beginning with a pre-Christmas exhibition event in Thailand. She will be flying there on Monday, the day after the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards, where she is on the shortlist of 12. She will then play in Brisbane and Sydney before heading to the Australian Open.

Konta said she had been encouraged by her early work with Joyce.

“So far, so good,” she said.

Konta parted company with Fissette earlier this year
Konta parted company with Fissette earlier this year (Getty)

“Obviously we have only been spending time on court together for the last couple of weeks. The relationship is in its infancy, but it feels like it’s going well.

“I think with any coaching relationship and for me in particular it's all about timing. I think as I evolve, the help evolves too. He brings a lot of experience as a coach. However, he also brings added experience as a player. He was a good player himself.

“I think he definitely comes at things from a few different angles which I think is very helpful to a player, to me right now. I feel he is quite holistic with the way he approaches things. He is process-orientated. He is about the work as well and doing the best we can.”

Konta won only two matches after her brilliant run at Wimbledon
Konta won only two matches after her brilliant run at Wimbledon (Getty)

Asked why she had chosen to part company with Wim Fissette, with whom she had such a successful first seven months of this year, Konta said: “We just both felt that it was the natural end of the relationship. I think we both brought out the best in each other for that period and we got the most out of each other for that period. We just felt it was time to move on.”

Although she was with Fissette for less than a year, Konta said she preferred to build long-lasting coaching relationships. “I think I definitely have every intention, if things are going well, to really try to make a relationship work,” she said.

“It all depends on how they go, how compatible you are, and how things evolve. I'm not a massive fan of change in general. Changing partnerships is actually outside my comfort zone rather than in.”

Konta admitted that she had felt burned-out, both physically and mentally, in the latter half of this year. She won only two matches after Wimbledon, where she had become the first British woman to reach the singles semi-finals for 39 years, and brought an early end to her season because of a foot problem.

“When I play at my best is when I play with the least amount of inhibition, when I think less,” she said. “When there’s quite a bit of emotional stress or you’re generally bogged down with things, with tiredness and fatigue, that definitely becomes a lot harder, so I think I got burned out a bit at the end and I realised that.

“That’s why I made the decision that I needed to take a bit of a step back, because it’s not going to be beneficial for me as a player or as a human being.”

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