World number one Andy Murray has come out in support of British ladies number one Joanna Konta, stating that he believes she is more than capable of claiming her first Grand Slam title this summer in the absence of Serena Williams.
Konta is ranked seventh in the world at the moment, with only Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki having collected more points on tour this year.
Now, with Williams out on maternity leave, the women’s game is arguably the most open it has ever been in many a year.
Speaking on Konta’s chances of winning a Grand Slam, Murray said: “I don’t see why not.
“Right now the women’s game is very open, with Serena being out for the foreseeable future, which makes it very exciting for a lot of the top women.
“No one’s sure who’s going to step up in her absence and Jo obviously has a chance. Clay maybe isn’t her favourite surface, but on the hard courts and the grass, there’s no reason why she can’t be right up there competing for the biggest tournaments and therefore the top spots in the rankings. It’s a big few months coming up for her.”
“It’s a big few months coming up for her.”
Murray also spoke of his joy at the rise of the likes of Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans as British tennis continues to grow from strength to strength.
“Both of them have done great,” said Murray. “Dan personally for me is more unexpected that Kyle. He’s always had the ability and it’s great he’s now showing that at the highest level and on a consistent basis.
“Kyle’s improving all the time as well. I spoke to Rafa about him after he played him in Monte Carlo and he said he should easily be top 20 if he keeps working hard. That’s positive when you hear that from someone like him.
“Also Aljaz Bedene has been playing very well too and is right up there again so there’s a lot of positive things happening on the men’s side.”
Murray has had a frustrating start to his season, with illness and injury curtailing the number of appearances he has been able to make, but the Scot was upbeat about his form leading into the busiest part of the year.
The world number one is due to play in the Masters’ events in Madrid and Rome over the next two weeks before the French Open followed by the start of the grass court season at Queen’s Club and then Wimbledon.
Murray made the final in all of the above-mentioned tournaments last year, winning three of them.
The 29-year-old has recovered from an elbow injury, and feel he close to being back at his best.
”I was in a better place coming into the clay-court season this year than I was last year – that’s how I felt.
“Physically I needed to get some matches under my belt and to get three matches in Barcelona last week was big for me.
“My body’s feeling good so I’m positive about the next few weeks. I need to obviously start winning matches and I’ll try and do that.”
Murray turns 30 on May 15 and is expected to be joined by several members of his family for his landmark day in Rome.
He said: “I don’t know if they have anything planned for me or if there’s some sort of surprise but I might be playing on that day – I’m hoping I am.
“I’ve had some bad experiences on my birthday in the past. I injured my back once in Rome, I injured my wrist in Hamburg. Hopefully, I’m not cursed this year.”