Konta escapes Williams, books finals duel with Wozniacki

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Johanna Konta of Great Britain shakes hands with Venus Williams after winning the semifinals match on day 11 of the Miami Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Friday in Key Biscayne, Florida. AFP PHOTO

Britain’s Johanna Konta beat Venus Williams 6-4, 7-5 in a grueling battle Thursday (Friday in Manila) to reach the WTA Miami Open finals, where she will face Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

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The Australian-born 25-year-old broke Williams in the first game and played aggressively throughout the opening set.

Williams fought back strongly in the second set, breaking to go up 3-1. But Konta broke back immediately and again for a 5-4 lead that allowed her to serve for the match.

The American took advantage of some nervy play from the 10th-seed to break back, but Williams was unable to hold serve and that gave Konta a second chance to wrap up the contest, which she did after more than two hours.

Konta said she expects a big challenge ahead in order to capture her second title of the year after a Sydney crown.

“I am going to have a tough battle on my hands,” Konta said. “Caroline makes you work.”

Wozniacki booked her place in the finals after rallying to defeat Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

Pliskova, who won titles this year at Doha and Brisbane, also fell in the semifinals stage at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

The Czech broke Wozniacki in the first game of the match but the Dane fought back and at 5-4 had three set points, which Pliskova manage to deny her.

Wozniacki then double faulted to give the Czech a break point, which she took before serving out for the set.

But former world number one Wozniacki, wearing down Pliskova with her solid defense, ran out a comfortable winner in the following two sets to earn a third finals appearance of the year.

“I’m not sure how I managed to do that,” Wozniacki said. “It is tough when you lose that first set — especially having set points, it hits you a little bit. But I got a good start to the second set and that got me going, got me grinding.”

In her two finals this year, both in February, Wozniacki was beaten by Pliskova at Doha and by Ukrainian Elina Svitolina at Dubai.

Pliskova, who began the year with a title at Brisbane, was philosophical about her second semifinals loss of the month.

“I’m definitely positive,” she said. “I’ve won a lot of matches this year. I can’t be too disappointed but obviously I am disappointed to lose two semifinals especially when I think I could have won both matches.

“Obviously I think I could have done a bit more this year but then again I have never had a start to a season like this.”

AFP

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