Johanna Konta reveals injury, but her star keeps rising

Briton ranked world's number seven after Miami Open victory, but is forced to miss Charleston Open

Johanna Konta defeats Venus Williams in Miami
Johanna Konta on her way to victory over Venus Williams at the Miami Masters
(Image credit: Rob Foldy/Getty)

Hours after winning the biggest title of her career, British tennis star Johanna Konta withdrew from the Charleston Open, the first clay-court tournament of the season, citing illness and a right shoulder injury.

The 25-year-old, who has risen to seven in the world rankings after her impressive victory in the Miami Open, would have been the contest's highest ranked player. She will not now play on clay until Great Britain's Fed Cup tie with Romania later this month, provided she is fit again by then.

Saying was "very sorry" to miss the tournament, Konta said: "I was battling a slight shoulder injury and sickness during Miami which has taken hold since the end of the tournament."

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Konta put in "considerable effort on her way to winning the title in Miami, beating Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki", says The Times. "There had been no obvious sign, or even a mention, of any issues during the tournament."

The paper adds that missing the tournament means she has foregone the opportunity to rise to the top of the 2017 points chart: "Had the 25-year-old played in Charleston, there was a chance that she could have replaced Karolina Pliskova, the Czech player at number one, with the gap only 76 points going into this week."

However, the outlook remains positive. "All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle seem to be coming together and the calibre of the players she beat in Miami... make it an amazing, amazing achievement," Annabel Croft told the BBC.

Konta has also won praise from Martina Navratilova, reports Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian, adding that is "worth much more than any hype generated in the heat of celebration".

He continues that there are aspects of Konta's game that need work, but "she had earned the belief and support of one of the game's most knowledgable and respected legends".

She has also learned not to fear her rivals. "There would not have been many takers backing Konta to beat Wozniacki even a couple of years ago," says the journalist. "Now she has to set her sights higher. In front of her in the rankings are players she has competed with on close to level terms but whom she will regard as eminently beatable. "

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Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the final of the Miami Open as she overpowered Venus Williams with "one of the most high-octane displays of hitting" seen this season to reclaim a place in the world top ten.

She now faces Caroline Wozniacki - "an opponent she blitzed for the loss of just four games at January's Australian Open", says the Daily Telegraph.

Konta fought fire with fire against 36-year-old Williams and adopted "attack as her best form of defence in her 6-4, 7-5 victory", adds the paper

The Guardian says the Briton appears to have a "stranglehold" over the American: "Konta was just six years old when Williams first won the tournament 19 years ago and has cited the seven-time grand slam winner as one of her heroes. But she showed no room for sentiment in her... third successive victory against the American."

Winning augurs well. "The previous two victories Konta had achieved against Williams both helped her reach new heights," says The Times, "one coming en route to reaching her first grand slam semi-final at the 2016 Australian Open and the other securing her first WTA title in Stanford last July."

The display was "notable for the belief and composure that the 25-year-old Briton showed throughout", it adds.

It was a "performance that reiterates her credentials to play at the top end of the women's game", says the Daily Mail. "The win books her return to the top ten of the rankings, with a career high number seven on offer if she lifts the trophy on Saturday."

Konta said she felt "privileged" to have played Williams. "There wasn't much in it so for me to come through leaves me feeling very happy and maybe a bit lucky."

As to Saturday's final, she said Wozniacki was one of the "best athletes on tour" and predicted "a battle".

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