Johanna Konta appears close to a deal with Maria Sharapova's former coach

Michael Joyce
Michael Joyce was part of the coaching team who helped Maria Sharapova reach the world number one spot

Michael Joyce, who was a major part of Maria Sharapova's team for six years, has emerged as a strong contender to coach Johanna Konta.

BBC Sport understands that Britain's world number nine was seen in discussion with Joyce at The All England Club in Wimbledon.

A deal with the American, who has been working with Victoria Azarenka this year, appears to be close.

Azarenka's return to tennis has stalled because of a custody dispute.

The two time Australian Open champion only played two events in 2017 - in Mallorca and at Wimbledon - and says she is currently unwilling to leave California, where a judge has ruled her 11-month old son Leo must stay until his future is decided. She has, though, received a wildcard to play at the ASB Classic in Auckland in January.

Konta reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and won the prestigious Miami Open while working with Belgian coach Wim Fissette this year. But their partnership ended soon after Konta narrowly failed to secure a place in the WTA Finals in Singapore following a run of five defeats.

After a holiday and a chance to rest a lingering foot problem, Konta only returned to light training last week in the grounds of the All England Club, where she is a member.

Joyce reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and the top 100 as a player, but is best known for his role in Sharapova's coaching team for six seasons from 2005. In that time Sharapova won the US Open and the Australian Open and became world number one.

They split in January 2011 when Thomas Hogstedt joined the team, In her recent biography 'Unstoppable' Sharapova wrote: "He was a great coach and an even better friend. We'd been together through everything, all the good and all the bad, but I think we became almost too close. Over time, he felt less like a coach than a brother.

"With great sadness, we sent Michael away. It was one of the toughest choices I've ever had to make."

Joyce spent the next five years coaching the American Jessie Pegula before linking up with Azarenka earlier this year.

Konta is yet to announce her next move, but said last month she would like to appoint a new coach "as soon as possible" but added "the focus will be on making the right decision rather than a quick decision".

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