No split loyalties for tri-citizen Konta

Published 01/27/2016, 8:49 AM EST
Britain’s Johanna Konta celebrates winning the first set during her quarter-final match against China’s Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – With not one, or two but three passports in her possession, Britain’s Johanna Konta could have been forgiven for suffering an identity crisis.

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But the woman who could have shown her allegiance to the country of her birth, Australia, or the country where her parents hailed from, Hungary, was eager to prove that she was no triple agent.

“I’m pretty much the female version of Jason Bourne,” Konta said laughing after she reached her maiden grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-1 win over Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai.

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“I am a tri-citizen… but I definitely belong to Great Britain.”

Like the fictional CIA assassin of the Bourne Identity films, Konta killed the hopes of seven-times grand slam champion Venus Williams and 2015 Melbourne Park semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova on the way to becoming the first British woman to reach the last four of a major in 33 years.

When Andy Murray joined her in the last four, Britain had two players in the last four of a grand slam for the first time since 1977.

But rather than getting carried away with the possibility of becoming the first British woman to lift a grand slam trophy since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon 39 years ago, Konta played down her unexpected run.

“If you live and die with your wins and losses, it’s an incredibly tough lifestyle to live,” said the 24-year-old, who failed to make the main draw a year ago while ranked 147th in the world.

Looking ahead to her last-four showdown with German seventh seed Angelique Kerber, she added: “I’m going to go out there, really enjoy it and enjoy the battle.

“It’s very important to take your positivity from things that you have control over. Otherwise you come into the danger of having very highs and lows, which is not a nice place to be. Middle ground is nice.”

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Her grounded expectations have served her well over the past six months. She reached the fourth round of last year’s U.S. Open, beating Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza en route, and arrived in Australia ranked 47th in the world.

She now wants to show that her parents’ decision to relocate from Australia to Britain so that their daughter could chase her tennis dreams was not in vain.

“When I left Australia I started training in Barcelona. I was at the Sanchez Academy. While I was there, my parents felt that at 13, 14 years old they didn’t really want to be on the other side of the world,” she said.

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“And because we are Hungarian…European…passport holders, they decided to base themselves in Britain. It was their sacrifice for me.”

(Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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