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Konta turns to rental cars to mitigate coronavirus risks in America

Johanna Konta says she and her team are travelling by car in the United States this summer to avoid risks related to Coronavirus.

After arriving in the United States last week, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta has enlightened the press on some of the difficulties players are facing as they try to resume their season during the global pandemic. She plans to play it safe in the States, in order to steer clear of the coronavirus, which has already infected over five million Americans as of Sunday night. 

Konta, who is seeded third at the Top Seed Open in Lexington next week, says that she has elected to avoid air travel now that she’s arrived in the continental US. Instead, the 29-year-old says she and her team have rented a car and they will use it until they get to New York to play the Western and Southern Open and, eventually, the US Open, which begins on August 31. 

“I arrived in the states on Thursday,” Konta told Ros Satar of Britwatch Sports. “I actually flew from London to Chicago and then we rented a car and drove from Chicago, so we are going to keep that car and actually drive it to New York, to just try to really mitigate how much time I spend in airports and airplanes, just to be as vigilant as possible with that.”

The trip from Chicago to Lexington is approximately 370 miles; from Lexington to New York is about 720. 

Konta says that in addition to avoiding external risks that come with air travel and other social interactions, players will need to be careful to preserve the purity of the bubbles they are playing in. She believes that as long as players abide by physical distancing protocols and practice good common sense, things should work out fine. 

“I think obviously it’s a really difficult situation because when you bring a group of people together it’s very hard to really demand the same level of conduct, I guess from everyone,” she said of the US Open during a virtual press conference held on Sunday. “Because everyone interprets things differently, everyone will have different anxiety levels about the global situation. … I’m sure everything is being put in place to keep us safe and keep the event safe so that we can play. I think that’s kind of the point of the whole thing.”

Konta, currently the WTA’s world No 15, will meet Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in first-round action on Monday in Lexington. The tournament, which will be held without spectators, also features Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff and Victoria Azarenka. 

Konta says the first 48 hours inside the United States were tricky for her, but now that she is getting comfortable with her surroundings, she is feeling more confident and believes she will be able to focus on her tennis as the road to the US Open begins. 

“To be honest I’m taking it a day at a time, right now,” she said. “And kind of really easing back into just being in the US. I think within the first 48 hours of getting here I was like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I am actually in the US,’ so there’s going to be a lot of adjustment in getting back into the whole swing of things, but I think the US Open is obviously putting together these protocols to run a successful and safe event.”


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