Reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek has lavished praise on Croat Ana Konjuh, who pulled off a sensational win over the Pole in a round-of-32 clash at the Miami Open on Saturday.
Iga Swiatek says Ana Konjuh is an inspiration for all aspiring players
Speaking to the press after falling to a three-set defeat, the current World Number 16 said Konjuh’s win represents a triumph over adversity and is a classic illustration of how one can overcome hurdles through sheer belief and iron will.
She added that her resilience is a lesson for all aspiring tennis stars never to lose self-belief.
“I think she’s a good example of a nice comeback and just believing in yourself. It’s really nice,” the Pole said.
Ranked a distant 338th in singles currently, Konjuh’s fledgling career slipped into the depths of despair after early promise.
Ana’s impressive rise to the top
Underlining her wealth of talent with two junior Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and US Open in 2013, the Croat turned professional at the age of 16. She followed her maiden WTA Tour title in 2015 with a run to the US Open quarter-finals a year later.
Continuing her steady climb up the tennis echelons, she fought past German Sabine Lisicki, Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, and Slovak Dominika Cibulkova at 2017 Wimbledon to set up a dream pre-quarters clash with Venus Williams. Though she lost to the seven-time Grand Slam champion, her run to the last-16 took her to a career-high ranking of Number 20.
However, just when it seemed like her career was set for a quantum-leap, injuries put her spanner in her works.
She had returned after elbow surgery in 2014. However, just two months after reaching her career-best ranking, the pain resurfaced, and she had to go in for second surgery on the same elbow.
There were to be two more such procedures in later years, putting her out of Tour action for close to three years and sending her rankings into a free-fall.
Swiatek is happy Konjuh is back playing so well after her problems
However, with extended stretching drills and physiotherapy thrice a day, Konjuh’s elbow now allows her to compete again.
With all the wear and tear it has had, she knows her elbow may never be the same, but she hopes it will stay injury-free for some more years.
Konjuh will take on Latvian Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the Miami quarters on Monday.