Tim Henman believes that Johanna Konta will go on the attack at Wimbledon – but she should take the British media out of her crosshairs.
Last month, the Eastbourne-based British number one crashed out of the French Open in the first round, losing to world number 93 Yulia Putintseva.
She proceeded to launch a scathing attack on the British media for the way that her poor record at Roland Garros had been highlighted pre-tournament.
But former British number one Henman believes that that Konta’s feud with writers and broadcasters will be a flash in the pan and that the 27-year-old shouldn’t allow herself to be bogged down by picking fights off-court.
“I can certainly remember I worked out pretty early on there’s a right answer and an honest answer, and if you give the right answer, you’re boring, and if you give the honest answer, you get criticised,” he said.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it. She was probably a bit frustrated but it’s tomorrow’s fish and chip paper.”
Instead, Henman feels that when Wimbledon gets underway in a few days’ time, Konta should channel her aggression into putting opponents in a spin.
A four-time semi-finalist in the men’s singles, he said: “I think for any player, grass is the toughest surface to defend on, and so the player that is attacking and looking to dominate is normally the one that’s going to have the upper hand, and probably will produce the results on grass.
“Certainly, when Jo is serving well and getting on the front foot with both her forehand and backhand, that’s when she’s at her most dangerous.
“Where she will struggle a little bit is if she gets on the defensive too much – she has to do the running and try and stay in the rallies. That’s when she’ll be vulnerable.
“She needs to be proactive not reactive and when she’s aggressive and consistent, I think she can beat anyone in the world.”
In 2017, Konta shone at SW19, enrapturing British fans as she produced a stirring run to the semi-finals.
She defeated current world number one Simona Halep in the quarters before losing out to Venus Williams and Henman believes that the East Sussex ace – who faces Russian world No.106 Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the first round – will be one to watch yet again.
“I definitely think for Konta, having played so well there last year and the support she had on centre court – she played some amazing matches, some incredible atmospheres – those are going to be memories for a lifetime,” he said.
“It’s important to really remember what that felt like, the way she played, and use that experience for this year.
“I think it would be fair to say she hasn’t played her best recently but with the experience and the level of play she had last year, there’s no reason why she can’t get back to the semis or go even further because she’s beaten a lot of the very best players in the world.
“I think it’s been a confidence issue – she’s got to continue to work on her game in the right areas and believe in her abilities, and I’m sure she’ll do that.
“The results showed that last year so hopefully she can remember the way she played last year and build on that for this year.”
Tim Henman was speaking at The Jaguar Championships as part of Jaguar’s partnership with David Lloyd Clubs. Visit http://www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/f-pace/index.html to find out more about the F-PACE, the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon