"To be honest" Johanna Konta was saying, her hands continually moving in front of her, orchestrating her words.
"To be honest, I feel just as I did two weeks ago," Konta said when asked about her emotional state after her 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory Saturday over No. 18 seed Andrea Petkovic at the U.S. Open. "I haven't grown wings or anything. I must say that I'm happy with the way I've been playing so far this week, but my feet are firmly on the ground. I haven't cured cancer, or anything."
Two weeks ago Konta was preparing for the U.S. Open qualifying tournament, coming off a good run on the ITF circuit where she had toiled for most of year. Her ranking at the time wasn't high enough to gain automatic entry into the Open's main draw. After Saturday's victory, she has now won 16 straight matches. That's five each in her two ITF tournament wins, three straight in the Open qualifier and now three straight in the Open itself.
And those three wins in the Open have taken the 24-year-old English woman (born in Australia) to a place she hasn't been before, a place that once might have been daunting, if not a tad frightening. But under the counsel of Spanish psychologist Juan Coto, Konta is learning how to stay in the moment, enjoy the moment, and take care of the task at hand.
"This is no secret," said Konta, the hands still conducting the orchestration of her words. "I'm not the calmest or the most really cool person out there. Everyone knows that I can be quite, you know, bubbly and I can be quite, what's the word I have always used?"
"Well, yeah, emotional," she continued. "It's always been a work in progress for me to keep things the way I want to keep them and to have the kind of train of thought and habits I want to keep."
Konta has the physique of a modern power player, 5-10 and 154, with a reasonably good serve and the usual array of groundstrokes. Petkovic was the second straight seed she had eliminated, knocking out No. 9 Garbine Muguruza in the second round in a hard fought three setter.
Now Monday she gets No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova in the round of 16 in a match likely to be on Ashe Stadium. Kvitova defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-1. Konta got the big-time Grand Slam experience this summer when she played idol Maria Sharapova on Center Court Wimbledon, which was a loss for the record book but a win in experience.
Now she pops up at the U.S. Open with her best WTA event performance, trying to keep an even keel.
"To be honest, for me it's not like a light bulb thing," she said, the hands moving in tempo. "It's something that has been years and years and years of hard work."
Which her mum told her Saturday, above all else, to enjoy.
"I spoke to my mum on the phone. My dad was going on about tennis, and my mum was like, 'Oh, you embrace this whole opportunity, this whole scenario you got to experience, because that's what life is about, experiences.' "
And what an experience this Open has been for her, to be honest.