Home Australian Open 2018: Johanna Konta and Maria Sharapova have lots in common – Joyce | Tennis | Sport

Australian Open 2018: Johanna Konta and Maria Sharapova have lots in common – Joyce | Tennis | Sport

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Michael Joyce, the 44-year-old American former mentor to the world’s most photographed tennis player, is now working with Konta. And in many ways he finds few differences between the two.

Sharapova is a serial Grand Slam champion, a former world No1 and one of the tour’s most ferocious competitors who shuns all offers of friendship in the locker room, while Konta has yet to reach a major final, can be too highly strung for her own good at times on court and is unfailingly polite and friendly away from it. But Joyce still sees them as two peas from the same pod.

“Jo has a lot of characteristics like Maria,” Joyce said. “They both want it really bad. They aren’t going to cut any corners to get there. They’re not going to leave any stone unturned. So when it comes to that, it’s pretty easy for me.”

Even Konta’s occasional meltdowns – such as when the pressure of defending her title in Sydney earlier this week tied her up in knots against Agnieszka Radwanska – are not too far removed from Sharapova’s emotions on court. It is just that Sharapova is a little better at dealing with them.

“I’ll tell you, when Maria was 16 or 17, she got flustered,” Joyce said. “Maria might have been a little bit better, especially when she was younger, at hiding everything, but at the same time it’s one of those things. I think Jo hides it pretty well too, to an extent, but that’s something she can work on.”

The question is whether Konta can match the Russian’s winning habits. And with the start of her latest Australian Open campaign looming, Joyce is convinced that she can.

“A lot of what Maria does as a competitor, I feel like I have a lot to with that, especially in her younger years,” he said. “I have no doubt Jo can win a Slam. It’s just that there’s probably 25 other people that can do it.

“I like the way Jo plays, I like the offensive-style player, I feel like I can relate to her game better than some other girls. I’m pretty relaxed, I’m pretty calm. She’s definitely not the type of player you’ve got to yell at and try to push. So I think we’ll get along fine.”

Joyce first started working with Sharapova in 2004, the year of her Wimbledon victory, and only left her camp seven years later having coached her to two Grand Slam titles and the world No1 ranking. Now he believes Konta can win a slam – and that is why he leapt at the chance to work with the world No9.

“When the opportunity came up with Jo I knew right off the bat that she’s a contender to get to the top,” he said.

“She’s proven that, she’s gotten pretty close. To be part of that journey with her is really exciting for me.”

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