Sat, Apr 01, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Konta outlasts Williams to reach final

MARATHONS:The British 10th seed needed more than two hours to defeat Williams, while Danish 12th seed Caroline Wozniacki needed even more time to advance

Reuters

Britain’s Johanna Konta returns to the US’ Venus Williams in their Miami Open women’s singles semi-final in Key Biscayne, Florida, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Johanna Konta early yesterday morning became the first British woman to reach a Miami Open final when she outlasted US veteran Venus Williams 6-4, 7-5.

The clock had ticked past midnight and most of the crowd had long since departed before Konta finally put away 36-year-old Williams after more than two hours of attrition on the hard court at Crandon Park.

The 10th seed is to play Caroline Wozniacki in today’s final after the Danish 12th seed won an even longer semi-final against second seed Karolina Pliskova 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to kick off the day’s action.

“Thanks to everyone who stayed. Good morning by the way,” Konta said jokingly in a courtside interview at an almost empty stadium after the pair traded eight breaks of serve in a baseline slugfest.

“To be honest, it was so incredibly close, so many back-and-forths in every point of every game. I feel very fortunate I was able to take advantage of a couple more opportunities than maybe her. It really could have gone either way,” she added.

The final is to be Konta’s second of the season after the world No. 11 won the Apia International Sydney in January, with the Briton meeting Wozniacki for a second time following her third-round win over the Dane at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Konta predicted a marathon final against Wozniacki, who capitalized on her renowned endurance and made fewer unforced errors in wearing down Pliskova, despite frittering away three set points in the opener.

The result exacted a measure of revenge for Wozniacki, who was beaten by the big-serving Czech in the Doha final in February.

“Fitness is something I’m working really hard on every day. It’s a huge part of my game,” Wozniacki, who completed the 2014 New York Marathon in less than three-and-a-half hours, said in a courtside interview.

In men’s singles, Roger Federer on Thursday stared down defeat and saved two match points before eliminating Tomas Berdych with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6) victory in their thrilling quarter-final.

Federer was yesterday to face Nick Kyrgios after the 12th seeded Australian edged German teenager Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-7, (11/9), 6-3 in an evening quarter-final, finally clinching victory on his sixth match point.

Swiss magician Federer had to call upon all his resources of skill, poise and experience to edge the Czech in a third set tiebreak in front of a frenzied crowd at Crandon Park.

Berdych served for the match at 6-4 in the tiebreak, but Federer reeled off four points in a row, including two unplayable serves, and secured the victory when the Czech 10th seed crumbled with a terrible second serve.

Federer conceded that he has ridden his luck at times to advance.

“I’ve had some tough losses here where I should have won. They stay with you, so I’m happy today to have come through somehow,” he said courtside. “I definitely got very lucky at the end, but I think I showed great heart today and I fought. Tomas really stepped it up and it was a great match at the end but one guy had to win.”

Australian Open champion Federer, who also won at Indian Wells two weeks ago, is playing some of the best tennis of his career and appears completely recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the second half of last year.

The 35-year-old is 17-1 this season, his only loss a surprise defeat to Russian Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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