One fired her father as coach, while another was the youngest player to bring a psychologist on tour with her. A third stepped away from tennis altogether to take on a different sport. The fourth? She imagined herself with a winner's cheque and, lo, it came to pass.

The first is the Russian-born American Sofia Kenin, the second is Poland's Iga Swiatek. The others, in order, are Australian Ashleigh Barty and Canadian Bianca Andreescu. Together they are part of a new breed of female tennis player: grand slam winners who have found new and not-so novel ways of adapting to the pressure of the media's glare and the brutal mental and physical demands of a lonely existence as a top professional on the ATP Tour.

Naomi Osaka's recent refusal to carry out media duties at the French Open – and subsequent withdrawal from this fortnight's Wimbledon – brought the issue of mental health in sport hurtling to the fore. But it has never really gone away for those in the thick of competitive action.

In a time when 'isolation' is a buzz word and Covid-19 has made for extended, solitary spells in confined spaces, the tennis player's lot has not changed considerably. But there has been the lack of village spirit associated with slams in the Covid era; the opportunity to find a coffee shop or restaurant to call one's own for a week or two and that has had a disorientating effect.

Earlier this year at a press conference following her second-round exit as defending champion at the Australian Open, Kenin broke down in tears when attempting to analyse what had gone wrong in her straight-sets defeat by Kaia Kanepi. Kenin seemed alarmed at her own conclusions when she discussed why she had lost.

“I felt that I was not there, my head was not there,” said Kenin. “I don't want to take away any credit from her, she played well on the important points. I have had opportunities but I have not been able to exploit them and I also know the reason, which is why the nerves have got the better of me. I felt like everyone was asking me: Would you like to win again? Do you see yourself out there winning again? Obviously, yes. But the way I played today, no. I knew I couldn't really handle the pressure.”

Last month, Kenin announced that she was parting ways with her father as her coach. In an echo of Stefano Capriati, Damir Dokic, Jim Pierce et al, her dad had been a constant presence at her side on tour and had been warned previously by umpires for coaching during matches.

Two years ago, Barty, the world No.1, found herself similarly disenchanted with life under the microscope and took up cricket, playing for Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire for a season apiece in the Australian women's Big Bash. Having spent a week training with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi in Las Vegas as a teenager, Barty soon assumed the mantle of prodigy, reached three Grand Slam finals in doubles, and then suddenly hit the wall. The constant travel and time away from home and her family prompted her decision to try cricket; she says it saved her.

“I'm very much a big homebody, not just a little one,” said Barty in April. “Ultimately, it did take a long time for me to come to terms with it and I'm not sure that I still have.”

On her return to tennis in 2017, she won the first of 11 ATP Tour titles at the Malaysian Open, then her first slam – the French Open in 2019.

Barty's tale is as old as tennis in the open era itself. The entourages that follow the very biggest players around are often as voluminous as some football teams, with that comes additional pressure, bigger hotel bills to pay and salaries out of which the expertise hired has to be accounted for.

Swiatek, the world No.9 who is seeded eight at this week's Wimbledon, has had her own psychologist in tow since she was 17.

As she showed off the French Open trophy at Roland Garros last spring in front of the Eiffel Tower standing out against the blue Parisian sky, the Pole carried a smile as broad as the Seine and an airy disposition that displayed someone who appeared totally at ease with her lot.

Her natural disposition, Swiatek claims, is very much at odds with the perception she gives off away from the court and she says that she has had to compartmentalise her public and her private life. The public Swiatek is the one who tweeted Andy Murray asking for a grass-court practise session in order to improve her game after some positive feedback from the Scot.

The private Swiatek is this one: “I'm pretty introverted. I feel like I have two modes – one is work mode and one is private mode. So when I’m at work I can actually be more extroverted and when I’m meeting fans it’s usually comfortable for me, but in private life I’m more of an introvert; I just want to stay in my room and do Legos, and with books. I have two modes and I’m switching between them.”

Her psychologist Daria Abramowicz encouraged her to do maths homework before matches when she was still at school but, ever since she graduated last year, sums have been replaced by Sudoku puzzles.

It seems the impact has been good for her game. Swiatek, now 20, is one of the most diverse shot makers on the ATP Tour.

The new breed has another member and she, too, is no stranger to using alternative methods to focus her mind on the unique demands of a life less ordinary. Andreescu has been beset by injuries since her major breakthrough at Flushing Meadows following her US Open defeat of Serena Williams in 2019 and has admitted to some dark days as she tried to deal with the frustrations of a particularly troublesome knee injury that she sustained in Shenzhen shortly after her win in New York.

In January she confessed that she would “sit on my bed and cry because I couldn't do anything”.

Andreescu is another who used the power of positive thinking to help her through. She describes as 'hippy stuff' the kind of books her mother would leave lying on her bedside table for her to flick through but when she reconciled herself to the belief that her mother had had a good life she gave in to the notion of being more open-minded. There were some traditional techniques, too, those used by top sports professionals the world over as she revealed that she had envisaged herself holding the winner's cheque prior to her win at Flushing Meadows. That revelation came in Australia earlier this year when she spent most of the tournament concealed in a hotel room due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“During this quarantine, I pictured myself on court playing tennis having the same feelings, feeling the shots. All of that. There 's studies that show imagery works just as well, if you do it correctly, as you being on the court. That's huge.”

Osaka will not be in London, nor will the second seed Simon Halep, who withdrew on Friday, so it's not stretching the bounds of credibility to summon up a mental picture of Barty, with a 75% career record on grass, or Kenin (10 wins, four defeats) holding aloft the Rosewater Dish in a few week's time. Less likely is Swiatek or Andreescu, who have never won on the surface. Nevertheless, each of their stories lifts the curtain just a little on the kind of sacrifices required to remain competitive at the highest level and the positive, or indeed negative, impact it can have on performance.