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THE JAGUAR #04

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  • Jaguar
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  • Konta
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A charged-up drive of the New All-Electric Jaguar I-PACE in Portugal’s Algarve | The inside line on the creation of the revolutionary I-PACE | Reinventing a classic: meet the E-type Concept Zero | Fifty years of the iconic XJ saloon | Exclusive interview with tennis star Johanna Konta | Can supercomputers revolutionise art?

WINNING MENTALITY

WINNING MENTALITY Johanna Konta is often asked what the defining moment was, when everything started to fall into place. “But I don’t believe in that,” she says. “I believe in the process, things happening over time.” Britain’s number one female tennis player, the 27-year-old has been an established member of the game’s elite for several years. But that wasn’t always the case. Konta was no precocious teenage prodigy, hotly tipped for success and stardom. Instead, her rise to the top has been a gradual one, as much a testament to her work ethic, intelligence and insatiable desire to learn as her undoubted talent. As she admits, it’s been a journey of incredible highs, lonely lows and constant challenges. Born in Sydney, Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta’s childhood was far from conventional: aged 12 she was home-tutored by her parents so she could focus on tennis and at 14 she left for Spain to spend a year at the Sánchez-Casal Academy, where compatriot Andy Murray had trained several years earlier. She then moved to England with her family, eventually settling in the southern coastal town of Eastbourne, and became a British citizen in 2012. Konta showed promise as a junior player, but she wasn’t even ranked in the top 300 in Australia when she was chosen for a national talent programme for just 24 players. Pete McCraw, who selected her for the group, said she stood out due to her meticulous, motivated approach. She was comfortable standing out from the others and soon overtook them. As a young pro, Konta won several small tournaments and while she notched up wins against more illustrious opponents, she struggled for consistency. In 2014, she broke into the world’s top 100, but ended the year at 150. Few outside her closest circle would have expected the rise that was to follow. At the end of that season, Konta began working with sports psychologist Juan Coto on the recommendation of her coach. While she may not like to pinpoint pivotal moments in her development, it’s a move that is hard to overlook. Together with the Spaniard, she worked on “I JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO LOOK BACK AND SAY THAT I GAVE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. IT’S THE MOST YOU CAN ASK OF YOURSELF” handling pressure, staying positive mentally and training her mind. She says his input helped her change her outlook on tennis and life in general. “I eventually made a conscious decision to become happy with what I have and what I was achieving. As a professional athlete, it’s easy to get bogged down and focus on defeats or setbacks. Everything can seem purely results-oriented.” One method Konta references regularly is “being present”. The practice is a common one in meditation and mindfulness and can help bring clarity and focus, especially at moments in which raw emotions tend to take over. “There was a stage in my development where it was a real challenge to relax. That certainly affected my results,” she admits. Watch Konta now and that’s hard to imagine. Calm, composed and focused on court, it’s no surprise to hear that her idol growing up was the icy cool Steffi Graf. A lover of routines, any analysis of her own performances or approach will usually see Konta reference ‘processes’ and the importance of ‘staying in a bubble’. It might sound a little like generic self-help talk, but the results speak for themselves. In the summer of 2015, Konta’s new approach began to pay off and she qualified for the US Open in good form. Despite previously only ever winning one match in the PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHANNA KONTA/OCTAGON/GETTY IMAGES 64 THE JAGUAR

Konta says a conscious decision to be happier on and off the tennis court has been a key factor in becoming one of the world’s best players main draw of a grand slam, she won three to make it through to the last 16, beating several top 20 players along the way. “I still see it as accumulation rather than one specific turning point,” she reflects when asked if this was a fork in the road. “Once you get to the top of a sport, there’s very little that separates you from the others. It’s more about smaller adjustments and incremental improvements.” She says she and her team, which includes a coach, fitness trainer, physio, doctor and mental trainer, are currently looking to exploit the mountain of data harvested from her training and matches. “We’ll use it to adjust my training load and nutrition, analyse my ability to recover. Anything to gain an extra edge.” After her breakthrough season in 2015, Konta ended the year ranked 47 and was nominated for the Women’s Tennis Association’s ‘Most Improved Player’ award. Any speculation that her rise had been a flash in the pan was quickly dispelled at the 2016 Australian Open in January. A first-round draw against Venus Williams, whom she had admired growing up, may have daunted her in previous seasons, but Konta won in straight sets. From there, she shocked the tennis world by powering through to the semi-final. During the course of the season, her ranking soared and Konta claimed her first WTA level title to finish the year at number 10 in the world. This time, she claimed the Most Improved award by a landslide. Having announced herself as a leading player, Konta consolidated her position in early 2017, reaching the Australian Open quarter final and winning two major tournaments, including defeating a world-class field in the Miami Open for the biggest title of her career. She arrived in the UK as one of the favourites for Wimbledon – could Konta kick-start a national celebration? As she made her way through the rounds, it seemed she just might, before the experience of Venus Williams eventually stopped her in the semi-final. Konta’s success saw her reach fourth in the rankings and she has since consolidated her position as an elite player over the following year, moving a step closer to her childhood dream of becoming the best in the world. Not that that is how Konta defines success. “When I get to the end of my career, I just want to be able to look back and say that I gave absolutely everything. It’s the most you can ask of yourself. This is only a sport, after all, and we should enjoy every opportunity. It would be a pretty bad existence if you only looked back at what you wish you had done, rather than appreciating what you have.” THE JAGUAR 65

 

JAGUAR

THE JAGUAR #05

 

THE JAGUAR magazine celebrates the art of performance with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from dynamic driving to seductive design and cutting-edge technology.

Led by an exclusive and insightful interview with unconventional actor and Jaguar campaign star Eva Green, this issue is full of Jaguar spirit. See the Jaguar XE 300 SPORT and XE SV Project 8 unleashed on the volcanic slopes of Sicily, go behind the scenes of setting two world records, look ahead to the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship season debut, learn the secrets of thrill-making from three renowned proponents of the art, and much more.

The Library

THE JAGUAR #05
THE JAGUAR #04
The JAGUAR #03
The Jaguar #02
THE JAGUAR #01
The Blockbuster Issue

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