Torchbearer: Why Jo Konta could be Britain’s Tennis hero in 2019

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England’s footballers won the nation’s hearts at the World Cup last year, but this summer we are looking for someone or something to steal the headlines and make us believe again.

There’s likely to be no Andy Murray around this summer, so step forward Johanna Konta.

The Brit first burst into the mainstream after her epic run to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2016 and three years on she finally looks back to her best.

The 28-year-old has been on a roll at Roland Garros so far, so we take a look at why we could all be suffering from #KontaFever this summer.

In form

After her last four showing in Australia, Konta followed up with a win at the Miami Open and semi-final appearance at Wimbledon in 2017.

She stormed to fourth seed in the WTA rankings as the world began to take note.

But a loss of form in 2018 saw her back to square one. Fast forward to the here and now and it’s all change again.

Konta has only dropped one set on her way to the French Open quarter finals, and has breezed past her last two opponents Viktoria Kuzmova and Donna Vekic.

She’s gone from 33s pre-tournament into 8/1 to win the whole thingand Konta herself admitted everyone in the women’s game is beatable right now.

The topsy turvy nature of the WTA tour right now has reared its head in Paris too.

Big upsets

The unpredictability that could yet reap rich rewards for Konta, has been on show all tournament.

Seven of the top 10 seeds have already been eliminated, including world number one Naomi Osaka, second seed Karolina Pliskova and 23-time Grand Slam champ Serena Williams.

This has thrown the women’s draw wide open. Konta may not be getting the big build up she was in 2017 but flying under the radar could be key.

Defending champions Simona Halep is still knocking about and so is impressive American Sloane Stephens.

But Konta has beaten Halep in a Grand Slam before – so anything is possible.

Finally her time?

Konta now faces her biggest test of the fortnight so far against former US Open champ Sloane Stephens.

A run at Roland Garros could be the start of a big summer for Konta

It will be tough with Stephens the 8/11 favourite to win the match. But with Konta at Evens to take the first set – her 11/10 odds for the match may be worth a look.

Stephens reached the final of this tournament last year but has only made one quarter-final since.

There was an aura of invincibility and collective belief around the England World Cup squad in 2018, something we may need to see again if Konta is to become the hero of the summer in 2019.

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Charlie Dear

Charlie has covered sport for the likes of The Guardian, Football365 and FourFourTwo. Arsenal sufferer. German football enthusiast.