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At Wimbledon, Ana Konjuh Spun Her Tale of Faith
By DAVID COXJUNE June 27, 2014
WIMBLEDON, England — Ana Konjuh has a tattoo on her left wrist that reads, “Faith.” Faith in her prodigious ability, which has helped her become one of the most promising women in the game. Faith in the continuing twists and turns of fate that played an integral role in her move from her quiet hometown, Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Zagreb at 10, leading her to her mentor, the former French Open champion Iva Majoli.
“I got it when I won the Australian Open juniors last year,” she said of the tattoo. “It means a lot to me. I believe in the power of fate. It helps me because, sometimes, when it’s hard in a match, you have to have faith in yourself that you can do it.”
Now 16, Konjuh became the youngest player to reach the third round of Wimbledon since Jelena Dokic in 1999. On Friday, she lost to Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-0.
“It’s not easy to be on the opposite side of the court from such a big name,” she said. “You go in against Caroline knowing that she’s so consistent and you have to do so much to win a point. It was frustrating, but it’s a great experience. I had my chances early in the first set, but I didn’t go for it, while she took everything she could.”
Konjuh was not yet born when Serena Williams turned professional in 1995, but Konjuh’s physical presence and booming serve belie her youth. The only indication of her age came when she admitted to struggling with fatigue after winning through three rounds of qualifying before two lengthy three-set matches earlier this week.
Few 16-year-olds are capable of fighting through the intense, all-or-nothing atmosphere of the qualifying tournament at nearby Roehampton, especially on roughly hewed courts, which she jokingly compared to a soccer field.
But Konjuh has always been exceptionally driven to make it as a pro tennis player, ever since she followed her older sister Andrea to her practices as a young child.
“I would be collecting the balls, and my father would shout, ‘Move on, you’re disturbing the practice,' ” she said. “I was like, ‘You’ll see in the next year what I’m going to do.’ ”
Konjuh proved to be a natural, and soon she had outgrown what Dubrovnik had to offer in the way of practice partners. So at 10, she told her parents that she had no choice but to move to Zagreb, the Croatian capital.
“To keep improving, I had to move,” she said. “I know that myself. When it was raining, I had to take a day off as there were no indoor courts at all in Dubrovnik. Nobody has ever pushed me at all with tennis. I’ve just always wanted it. My mum was like, ‘No, please don’t go.’ But my father said: ‘If you want that, then we have to let you go. It’s your life, you have to decide.' ”
So Konjuh left to live with Andrea, who is eight years older.
“At first, I missed my parents a lot, but I had to grow up fast that way, which helped me a lot,” Konjuh said. “Now, it’s freedom.”
At 14, she was discovered by Majoli at a national tournament, and she has been imparting her wisdom to help prepare Konjuh for a life in the spotlight.
“We’re really close, and she’s always there in my box to watch and support me,” Konjuh said. “She went through it all herself, so she tells me what to expect in these big tournaments.”
Since then, her biggest obstacle has been the International Tennis Federation’s age eligibility rule, which restricts the number of tournaments female players can compete in before they reach 18, an attempt to reduce the burnout that affected prodigies like Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati.
“I’m allowed to play just 16 tournaments a year,” she said. “That’s just one or two a month. They don’t want 16-year-olds winning Wimbledon anymore, which is fine, but it can be frustrating because you have to be really clever with your scheduling. Otherwise, if you lose first round a lot, you’re not getting many matches and you don’t feel the ball so well.
“I think it’s nearly impossible for a teenager to win a Grand Slam because you don’t get to play the top players at an early age, so you don’t know what to expect. But if you’re good enough, you’ll make it in the end.”
Konjuh may eventually appreciate the current limits. She has already had surgery for an elbow problem, which kept her out for four months earlier this year. The career of her sister, once also a promising player, was ended by injuries at 18.
“She had to stop, but now she has a baby and a new life, so she’s happy,” Konjuh said. “We used to practice together in Zagreb, and today, she reminded me, ‘Remember when I used to beat you with my left hand?’ It feels like a long time ago. I don’t think she’ll be able to beat me with her left now.”
the heading of the article lets assume that she said that! BUT SHE DIDN T!In Večernji list there is new interview with Ana but just for premium users and title is very exciting:
2015 will be my year, I'll try to win Wimbledon lol
With Madison Keys turning 20-years-old earlier this month, it's time to take a look at the current crop of youngsters on the ATP and WTA Tours. From the top teens of Nick Kyrgios and Belinda Bencic to the more under-the-radar youth toiling away in the lower echelons of the tours, here are the names to know for the 2015 season.
Works in progress
Current ranking: No. 99
Just watch Konjuh's serve and it's hard to quiet those whispers that she will surely win a Slam one day. A former No. 1 junior, she and Bencic dominated the 2013 junior season, as Konjuh scored the two hard-court titles at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. Given her live arm, it's worrisome that she's already had to undergo surgery for her elbow in early 2014, but she rebounded to make the third round of Wimbledon and her first WTA semifinal at the Istanbul Cup.
Title says (?) bombastic/fantastic, but it's completly accurate. Two young croatian tennis hopes, 17 yo Ana Konjuh and 18yo Porna Hotrić, jumped from the tallest building in New Zealand, 192 metres high Sky Tower.Naslov zvuči bombastično, ali je u potpunosti točan. Dvoje mladih hrvatskih teniskih nada, 17-godišnja Ana Konjuh i 18-godišnji Borna Ćorić skočili su s najviše zgrade na Novom Zelandu, 192 metra visokog Sky Towera!
Svjetske tinejdžerske teniske zvijezde u usponu ovog su se puta našle u padu, ali su, jasno, na sebi imale sigurnosnu opremu tako da su bezbrižno okončali svoju zajedničku adrenalinsku avanturu.
- Bilo je izuzetno uzbudljivo, a vrištao sam kao curica - “pohvalio” se Borna.
Ćorić je prošloga tjedna boravio u Chennaiju, pa je bio malo pospan zbog jet laga i prilagodbe na vremensku zonu nakon dolaska iz Indije u Auckland, ali brzo se i posve razbudio kada se našao na rubu krova Sky Towera.
No, pravu hrabrost pokazala je Dubrovkinja Ana koja se odvažila pa prva skočila i poletjela brzinom od 85 kilometara na sat. Nije dugo trajalo, tri-četiri sekunde, ali...
Konjuh je inače prošloga tjedna igrala WTA turnir u Aucklandu, Bornu ovoga tjedna u istom gradu čeka ATP nastup.
- Ana mi je ispričala da ovdje ima velika hrvatska zajednica i da puno Hrvata dođe navijati za nas na turniru. Veselim se tome - dodao je mladi Zagrepčanin.
After picking up The Elena Baltacha Trophy, Konjuh said: "It feels great. I will remember this and it’s going to hold a special place in my heart, this tournament.
“I want to thank the crowd that came out to cheer for me. I want to thank all the volunteers who helped to get this tournament together. I had a perfect week and I hope to see everyone next year.”
Konjuh’s road to glory:
Round 1: Shelby Rogers 6-0, 6-3
Round 2: Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-2
Quarter-final: Sachia Vickery 6-2, 6-2
Semi-final: Alison Riskje 6-4, 6-3
Final: Monica Niculescu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Quote of the day:
Ana Konjuh (On celebrating without champagne): “I can’t drink because I’m under age, but the coaches can enjoy it!
“My parents were at home, all the neighbours came to the house and they’re drinking champagne. I just had a talk with my dad so they’re really happy.”
link“It means a lot, especially because it’s the first year here,” the world No. 87 Konjuh said. “It feels great, I didn’t expect it. I came here two days before to acclimatize on grass, and after five matches I’ve won the tournament, so it feels great.
“The first set wasn’t going my way but I had to stay calm. I just knew that my game was going to come and I did it much better in the second set. I’m really glad to get that win today.”
“She’s an uncomfortable player, especially on grass with that many slices,” Konjuh said of her opponent. “It’s so frustrating. She had that experience and took the first set because I wasn’t ready for it.”
“I had a perfect week and I hope to see everyone next year."
“I will remember it. It’s going to hold a special place in my heart, this tournament.”
KONJUH AT 9/10 IN THE FINALS: And the thing is, I don't like Mondays
She's lifted high the winner's trophy in Nottingham. At the request of photographers she also kissed it, but she couldn't open her bottle of champagne. She is still underage.
- It's in my bag, and who'll get it, we'll see.
Ana Konjuh is Croatia's first WTA title winner of the season, and given the points won she'll equal Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at #54, which means that she'll be sharing a place with a player who was winning WTA tournaments before Ana was even born.
- Croatian #1, right alongside Mirjana, sounds good. I'm thrilled about Nottingham. Don't think I'm even aware of what I've done. Perhaps I'll be after some sleep.
Monday is the day for Croatian tennis. First it was Goran Ivanisevic who won Wimbledon on a Monday, then Marin Cilic celebrated his win at the US Open on Monday by Croatian time and now Ana got to the finest result of her career on another Monday.
- Hm, I don't like Mondays. First day of the week, day when practice is the toughest. But now after a win in Nottingham, that's about to change a little.
Grass is my favorite surface, that is what she said after Roland Garros, right before the start of the grasscourt season.
- Also, after Roland Garros I had a few days off and couldn't wait to play on grass. I had two days to get used to it in Nottingham.
On the grass of Nottingham she made 5 wins. With the first four she made her place in her first ever WTA final, and without dropping a set at that. With the last one she won the title, along with 280 points and around $40 000 USD. She was, as her coach Kristijan Schneider likes to say, the boss on court.
- Except in the first set of the final. Niculescu's style required getting used to. But in the other two it was all fine.
Against Rogers, Dellacqua, Vickery and Riske, with no problems.
- Against Vickery I played best.
That quarterfinal match she waited for two days because of the rain. Courts were off limits on Friday night and the whole of Saturday.
- It was really boring. The rain would stop and then start again, right when we wanted to go out on court. This happened several times. I got really lazy on a couch in the players lounge.
On Sunday the weather finally showed some mercy, but after she took care of Vickery, not even two hours later she was required to play her semifinal match against Alison Riske. Rain interrupted the first set twice.
- I played well in the quarters, I settled that quickly and without wasting too much energy.
As she played so well in the semis, did she want to play the final on Sunday as well, her third match of the day.
- Well, I didn't really think about that.
Nottingham had a big event in the '70s. American Billy Jean King celebrated there in 1972, as well as at the last year of the big event, way back in 1973. In the last 4 years Nottingham has returned onto the world's tennis map. First it hosted an ITF event, and this year a $250 000 USD WTA tour event. On the winners list it says Billy Jean King and then Ana Konjuh. Sounds great, doesn't it.
- Exactly. Btw, I was here last year playing an ITF. I got to know the club, the courts and maybe it helped me to win the title this year.
As a junior Ana won all 7 finals that she played. As a pro she is 1/2 on the ITF circuit, and now, in her first WTA final, she went all the way.
- Polona Hercog tricked me. I lost the final of Maribor against her. But it's still not bad. Here, someone told me that not even a legend that is Michael Jordan had 90% rate from the free throw line. With that in mind, 9/10 in the finals sounds a little better - she laughed in the end.
She will practice in Zagreb until Sunday (she should fly in from London a little before midnight). Then it's off to the English grass again. Wimbledon is her favorite Grand Slam.