Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Tennis: Wimbledon - BY NEIL MCLEMAN

JO KONTA wants to be top ba­nana at Wimbledon af­ter be­com­ing hooked on a fruity new word game.

But the Bri­tish No.1 ad­mit­ted she has to stop play­ing ‘Banana­gram’ long be­fore go­ing on court – be­cause the com­pe­ti­tion with her team is so se­ri­ous.

The world No.19 is en­ter­ing her home Grand Slam as one of a bunch of out­siders for the ti­tle af­ter reach­ing the French Open semi-fi­nal.

And she re­vealed that her best ever clay-court sea­son co­in­cided with a new ad­dic­tion to the Scrab­ble-style game.

Konta said: “I’ve been play­ing a lot of Banana­gram with my team. We have to leave enough time be­fore I play and the last Banana­gram be­cause things get in­tense. I need to calm down af­ter that.

“It’s kind of like Scrab­ble. Once you’ve used up your tiles, you say ‘peel’.

“We started play­ing in Rome – it was Dan’s idea [coach Dan Smethurst]. Dan brought it, he taught me, then I beat him!”

Konta de­feated her first-round op­po­nent Ana Bog­dan – the world No.134 from Ro­ma­nia – on her way to her first clay-court fi­nal in Ra­bat in May.

“I don’t think a fresh mem­ory of beat­ing any­one nec­es­sar­ily helps in any way,” said No.19 seed Konta.

“I think what is good is that be­cause I’ve been on court against her, I can re­mem­ber the kind of ball she plays.”

Konta is in the mix af­ter reach­ing three Grand Slam semi-fi­nals, in­clud­ing here in 2017 against Ser­ena Wil­liams.

She said: “I think prob­a­bly what stands out is I re­mem­ber just re­ally en­joy­ing the rou­tine of be­ing able to come here, play my match, then go home.

“I felt re­ally lucky that I got to play one of the big­gest tour­na­ments in the world, then go home at the end of the day.”


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