Wimbledon 2016: Johanna Konta's remarkable rise

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Wimbledon
Johanna Konta
Konta was ranked 147th in the world last June
Wimbledon on the BBC
Venue: All-England Club Dates: 27 June - 10 July
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Johanna Konta is a woman on the up, literally.

The British number one's astonishing performances over the past 12 months have seen her go from unheralded wildcard to the plush surroundings of Wimbledon's top-16 locker room, reserved for the game's elite.

"The showers are the same size; the towels look the same," Konta joked after her first visit 'upstairs' last week.

"I think after that initial excitement - 'oh, it's something new' - then you start thinking about things that are more important."

That magical ability to block out the peripheral and concentrate purely on the next point, the next ball, is something Konta has managed to acquire over the past 18 months.

It is all the more remarkable for a player who, in the words of Judy Murray, suffered "really bad performance anxiety" as recently as last year.

The changes behind this new-found calm have been well documented - a cut in LTA funding that saw Konta relocate her training to Spain; working with London-based mental coach Juan Coto; travelling on tour with her boyfriend.

Britain's Johanna Konta wants a good Wimbledon run

Even so, her transformation from a player who looked unlikely to trouble the top 100 to a Grand Slam contender has surprised everyone.

"What's happened in the last 12 months and what she's achieved, I would never have called that," said former British number one Anne Keothavong.

"She used to be someone who would fret a lot, whether it was on the practice court, on the match court. If things weren't perfect it used to really get to her.

"She is naturally highly strung - she'll admit that herself - but you can't always be perfect.

"With the work she's done with Juan Coto away from the tennis court on the mental side, she's so much stronger now in the head than she ever used to be."

'She's super disciplined, so meticulous'

Konta was amused how often Coto was referenced by the media during her stunning run to the fourth round of the US Open last year, but his influence appears to have been huge.

Whether it is face-to-face, via Skype or WhatsApp, the pair "check in", according to Konta, on a very regular basis, wherever they might be in the world.

Her poise in seeing off, among others, the likes of then world number two Simona Halep, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and current world number two Garbine Muguruza over the past year has been that of a big-time player.

Renowned as professional and hard-working from her teenage years, Konta has also benefited from working with Spanish coaches Esteban Carril and Jose-Manuel Garcia at their base in Gijon since late 2014.

"She's always carried herself like a top player - super disciplined, so meticulous," said another former British number one, Sam Smith.

"Training in Spain has been great for her, there's been lots of technical work on the forehand, but her application has been of someone who has top-10 potential, she is that disciplined and that hard-working."

Konta's backhand is the bedrock of her game but the forehand used to suffer badly when the mental demons took hold.

Carrying such a weakness is all but impossible at the top of the game, and Konta appears to have achieved something few players manage well into their twenties.

"I thought her forehand was always going to hold her back," added Smith. "And the fact that she just got very uptight and nervous.

"What she's done over the last 12 months is conquer that, and her forehand is unrecognisable from what it was a couple of years ago."

Johanna Konta
Konta made a surprise run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open

'Results and rankings, they come and go'

When Victoria Azarenka withdrew from Wimbledon last week, it nudged Konta up from 17th to 16th in the seedings, another landmark in an incredible year.

This is a player who ended 2012 ranked 153rd in the world, and two years later had risen only three places to 150 heading into 2015 - yet in the past 12 months she has gone from 147th to 19th in the world rankings.

There was that run to the last 16 in New York last August, becoming British number one in September, becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final for 33 years in January.

Only last week, she made her first semi-final on the WTA Tour in Eastbourne.

It would be understandable if Konta were to feel a little light-headed at her breathtaking ascent.

"On paper my ranking is definitely in a different place," Konta told BBC Sport.

"I am much higher ranked than I was this time last year, but in reality I'm very much the same person with the same goals and the same work ethic. I'd like to think that I continuously get stronger, fitter, faster."

"It's just important to understand that results and rankings, they come and go.

"Sports can be quite fickle in that way and it's important to have your self-respect and self-confidence from things you have control over.

"If you live and die with your losses then it can be very much like a rollercoaster, so I try to keep it as level as possible."

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