History beckons for Konta – Miami Open semi-final previews

 

By Ros Satar

  • Caroline Wozniacki [12] v Karolina Pliskova [2]
  • Johanna Konta [10] v Venus Williams [11]
MIAMI, USA – The WTA semi-finals are set with great match ups on either side of the schedule to decide this year’s finalists – can Johanna Konta keep on making history?

 

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Caroline Wozniacki [12] v Karolina Pliskova [2] – H2H: Wozniacki leads 3-1

First up on the schedule is a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki perhaps hoping that if she reaches the final it will be third time lucky this year, as she searches for her first title after reaching two finals this year. She has to get past Karolina Pliskova who denied her the Doha title earlier this year, when the Czech scored her first win over the Dane.

Wozniacki’s path to the semi-final has been pretty impressive. She is yet to drop a set and the biggest test was in a momentum-shifting first set with Garbiñe Muguruza, storming through the tie-break before the Spaniard retired with illness.

Pliskova has been equally impressive, as both bid for their first shot at the title here. With her first win over Wozniacki and improving continually, this has the makings if being a good test for both. Wozniacki will look to neutralise Pliskova’s hard hitting game, and could certainly make life for the Czech uncomfortable – her movement out-graces Pliskova’s improving game in that respect, but she found the answers in Doha, and Wozniacki may need to try a little more if she wants to reach her first Miami final.

Pliskova has been probably the most consistent player across the WTA this year, winning two titles already in 2017, and comes in as the favourite but as we saw in Indian Wells, a lot of grit and variety can unstick her.

Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.

 

Johanna Konta [10] v Venus Williams [11] – H2H: Konta leads 2-1

Johanna Konta stunned Simona Halep on the way to her first semi-final in Miami, indeed she was the first British woman to make the Miami Open semi-final. Above all though, she showed that characteristic grit and determination that we saw as she started to march her way up the rankings in late 2015 and last year.

With Halep taking the initiative in the opening set, it was a gutsy and indeed edgy fightback from the Brit culminating in snatching the tie-break and in a way breaking what little will Halep had left having recorded her best run in a tournament all season.

On the other side of the net will be Venus Williams whose resurgence this year has been the joy of fans and pundits alike. She twirled her way to the Australian Open final, and had a great run in Indian Wells, despite sometimes being slow to start, but here she has been in very commanding form. Williams is yet to drop a set, while it has taken Konta a while to find that equilibrium which is key to her game.

That being said the momentum of their head to heads has been all Konta’s way since their first clash in Wuhan in 2015. Williams fell twice to Konta in her breakthrough year albeit obviously hampered in the first round of the Australian Open. Even if we disregard that, their three set battle in the Stanford final sets the scene for a fascinating fight.

What impressed most about Konta was that she was content to figure things out for herself in her battle against Halep, and she found a way to get a win against a hard hitter, and great mover out on court. She will need all of those skills. Williams can eat up court yards as she advances forward and while we saw some improvement with Konta’s feel at the net in her quarter-final, she did get herself burned a couple of times for her predictability.

Konta will need to take those risks though – Williams’ wingspan at the net and her court coverage will test the Brit to her limit, but she has to take confidence that she can get the won, over the home crowd favourite, on her home turf.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

 

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