After a rather satisfying 2016, in which she had reached her first Major semi-final at the Australian Open as an unseeded player, a first WTA title at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, and had been a heartbeat away from entering the field of the WTA Finals in Singapore, surpassed by Svetlana Kuznetsova on the finish line, Johanna Konta took the rather complicated decision of partying way with her coaches, starting a brand new partnership with Wim Fissette during the season break.
In retrospect, the decision seemed to work very well for the Brit, who set several personal records during the first part of 2017, eventually making a top 5 debut in the rankings for the first time in career.
Konta could claim a very positive record, with 34 wins and only 10 losses, only two of them occurred in the first round of a tournament, at the Mutua Madrid Open and at the French Open respectively.
The Brit number one had been able to keep a good consistency for the most part of the season. She started in the right way the Australian Swing, winning her first title of the season - and the second overall - at Sydney International, defeating the likes of Daria Gavrilova, Daria Kasatkina, and an in-form Eugenie Bouchard, before seeing off Agniezska Radwanska in the match for the title, all without dropping a single set. She entered the first major of the year as the 9th seed and successfully reached the quarterfinals for the second year in a row, surrendering only to eventual champion Serena Willams.
She kept doing well on hard courts as she clinched a second title in Miami, her first at a Premier Mandatory level - after the final lost in 2016 in Beijing, with important wins against Simona Halep, Venus Williams, and Caroline Wozniacki.
The grass court swing had been equally good for Konta. She reached the final in Nottingham, losing to Donna Vekic, and then she reached the quarterfinals in Eastbourne, where she recorded her first ever win against a world number one by defeating Angelique Kerber in straight sets. A bad fall during the match, however, forced her to withdraw from her following semifinal match.
She recovered in time for Wimbledon, where she became the first Brit since 1978 to reach the Semifinal of the women's field, for the home crowd delight. Her dream run ended against Venus Williams, but her good results allowed her to start the second part of the season with the career high of world number four.
Despite an injury that forced her out from the Middle-East swing, Konta didn’t face any big issues in any of the hard court tournaments.
However, her clay court season has been a disappointment overall, despite the surface had never been one of her best to play on.
She failed to win back to back matches in all the tournament she had played, ending her unfortunate swing with an early exit at the French Open, where she had never been able to win a match in the main draw.
Konta’s season had started with a semifinal in Shenzhen, where she reached the semifinals. Later, she performed a run to the title in Sydney, with an impressive victory over world number 3 Radwanska in the final, only her second career win over a top-5 player.
The Australian Open had also shown Konta in a good form, without dropping a set before her quarterfinal loss to Serena.
On her way to her second title in Miami, she performed a comeback against Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, recovering from a set and a break down - and having been two points from the loss - to win the match in three. The win gave her the right confidence, as she went ahead to see-off Venus Williams in straight sets, and didn’t find trouble to clinch the title against Wozniacki in the final.
In Eastbourne, she recorded two important wins, against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, and then against world number one Angelique Kerber.
In Wimbledon, she recorded her fourth top-5 win of the year in her quarterfinal match against Simona Halep.
Konta suffered early exits in two tournaments, both during the clay season.
In Madrid, she went out in three sets against clay specialist Laura Siegemund, while at the French Open she suffered a hard loss against world number 109 Hsieh Su-Wei, after winning the first set 6-1.
She failed to clinch the title in Nottingham as the widely favorite to do so, losing to world number 70 Donna Vekic once again after easily winning the first set with a 6-2 score.
With a remarkable 2016, that allowed her to end the season as world number 9, Konta has a lot of points to defend before the end of the year, starting with the Bank of the West Classic, where she likely won’t return to defend her first career-title.
She’ll also need to defend two heavy quarterfinals at Rogers Cup and in Wuhan, and more than that, the Premier Mandatory final reached in Beijing.
Midseason grade: A-
Aside from a disappointing clay season, Konta didn’t face any major slumps in the first part of the year, sealing an overall good performance with two important titles and one final already in her pockets, a top-5 debut and a possible first career qualification for the World Tour Finals within her reach.