It seemed long in the offing, but finally British tennis fans have more to cheer about than just the success of main man Andy Murray.
For years the Scotsman has been the figure head of Britain’s tennis association, holding the fort whilst his compatriots struggle to break into the world’s top 100. However,this year the tide is turning; Britain now has four men and three women inside this elite bracket.
Most recently, Johanna Konta, the British female number one, has broken into the world top 10, the first British women to do so since Jo Durie back in 1984.
Konta reached the final of the China Open on Sunday 9th October, marking her most recent achievement in a year of enormous success for the Brit. In April last year, the right-hander was 146th in the tennis world rankings; her progression has elevated her to 9th in the world.
Although she lost out in the final to world number three Agnieszka Radwanska, Konta told the press that this tournament was one that she’d “definitely remember for a very, very long time”.
“Konta is now a force to be reckoned with at the highest level of women’s tennis”
While success in the China Open offers a significant landmark, it cannot be said that it is unsurprising given the year Konta has had. Victories in Beijing over Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys took her tally of wins over top ten seeds to seven this year alone.
But the 26-year-old herself said that: “it’s obviously a wonderful stat to see against the top 10 players, but I think it’s more my application against every player I play.”
Whatever it is, Konta is now a force to be reckoned with at the highest level of women’s tennis.
Likewise, this has been a terrific year for Britain’s Kyle Edmund. The British number two has now risen to a career best of 48th in the world in the last week, despite losing to world number 3 Stan Wawrinka in second round of the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday.
Edmund forced three break points as the Swiss served for the match in the second set, but was unable to convert any of them.
Before the game three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka paid tribute to his opponent saying: “I was expecting a tough match because he’s improving a lot.”
Still at the top of the pile however, is Andy Murray. Murray’s victory on Sunday 9th October against Grigor Dimitrov secured his fifth singles title of 2016 and the 40th of his career. The Scot didn’t drop a single set all tournament in Beijing and has once again begun to close the gap on World Number One Novak Djokovic.
Since winning both his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles this summer, Andy lost ground on the Serb once again after a disappointing display at Flushing Meadow in the US Open.
Murray’s victory at the Shanghai Open last week, and extending his run of 23 straight sets won, reduced the deficit to Djokovic to just over 900 points, and Murray could well be the world number one before the year is out.
With the new season fast approaching and the prospect of a first Australian Open Grand Slam victory on the horizon, it is clear that British tennis is quickly on the rise.
Words by Freddie Stuart
Image courtesy of ‘Tatiana’ via flickr.com.
Video courtesy of youtube.com.