‘I’m hitting a yellow ball across the net into some lines’. It’s Johanna Konta speaking after her Australian Open quarter final victory over the qualifier Shuai Zyang. She is explaining to the press her perspective about the game.
It’s rare to hear a professional player speak with an almost childlike simplicity about what they do. And yet it’s this simplicity and clarity that is key to Konta’s emergence and success.
It’s as if the reason why she plays the game has not become corrupted by the demand for results and outcomes. Of course it helps that Johanna is winning. This simply re-inforces her belief in her own process and way of experiencing the game. But it takes a lot of trust in yourself, to be so free of the usual emotional and psychological lures and fears.
The lure of winning. The lure of being involved at the business end of a big Grand Slam. The fear of not wanting to let people down…fear of failure…fear of success…fear of looking stupid. Johanna Konta appears immune from these traditional hooks.
As if she has created a world in which these psychologies simply don’t trouble her. In Johanna’s world, the game…the shot…the opponent and the moment hold sway. Johanna is absorbed into this world. It is contained and woven around her like a cocoon. And It is stabilised by the people close to her. By her personal values, And her well-developed sense of self.
If she makes it to the Australian Open final, it’s very unlikely that Johanna will feel out of her depth. For her process is so integrated and robust, that it will absorb the sense of occasion. And leave her free to be with the game…the opponent…the shot…and the moment!