By Ros Satar

  • Johanna Konta [10] def. Carolina Wozniacki [12] 6-4 6-3
  • Biggest title of her career – wins Premier Mandatory
  • Projected rise to career high of World No. 7 on Monday
  • What next for the British No. 1?
MIAMI, USA – Johanna Konta backed up her rise up the rankings by winning the Miami Open in straight sets over Caroline Wozniacki, putting her back in the World Top 10.

 

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Johanna Konta [10] def. Carolina Wozniacki [12] 6-4 6-3

Johanna Konta’s fortunes continue to shine as she out-nerved Caroline Wozniacki for the biggest title of her career so far. Just a year younger than her vastly more experienced opponent, it really was a battle of wills in the first set. The momentum swung back and forth so much, it left everyone feeling just a little giddy, as experience told time and time again as Wozniacki found a way twice to check Konta in her tracks from running away with it all.

Yet after all the hard work to take advantage of a very shaky game to bring things level at 4-4, Konta broke decisively for 5-4 lead, also having to save two break points to take the first set. Often, once ahead, Konta will just put pedal to the metal and race off into the lead, and when she broke the Dane at the start of the second set, it felt like déjà vu, but Wozniacki was having none of that, breaking straight back.

Just when it looked though that she was going to be in the driving seat to push this to three sets, she called the trainer for her foot, and given that movement is intrinsic to her game, it looked as though the break had disrupted whatever rhythm Konta had. From 40-15 up, the Brit was taken to deuce and battled through to hold, but perhaps the turning point was the next game.

Wozniacki looked just a little hampered and while her trade-mark speed helped her race up to a Konta drop-shot, her court smarts seemed to desert her, as she missed an easy put-away by the Dane’s high standards. It would prove to be decisive as Konta broke, putting the Brit just two games away.

Nerves have been present in Konta’s game even through her rise up the rankings in 2016, but she has always found a way through them, while Wozniacki looked out of ideas, gamely challenging the eventual championship point as Konta broke to pick up her biggest title.

 

What next for Konta?

For Konta it signifies not only her second hardware of the year, but her biggest title to date, after perhaps failing to embrace the last occasion (the Beijing final, where she lost in straight sets to Agnieszka Radwanska). We cannot honestly say she looked to have enjoyed this one much better either, at the time but you have to feel for Wozniacki.

After a couple of years of injury that saw her drop out of the Top Ten for the first time since 2008. Think about that for a moment. Just a year separates the pair, yet for Konta, her projected rise on Monday to No. 7 in the World marks a career high against a former World No. 1 who now has finished the bridesmaid in all three of her finals reached this year. However, with their proximity in the rankings and provided Wozniacki is fit, we can look forward to a few more battles between the pair as the season rides out.

We also need to perhaps back off our expectations of Konta. Next up is clay which is not her best surface, by a country mile. She has just two wins to her name (in Rome) last year, so barely any points to defend, but apart from Charleston, she has nothing else in the schedule until the next round of Premier Mandatories in Madrid and Rome.

There is undoubtedly a chance to consolidate her position in the World Top 10, but more importantly, the double-headers in Indian Wells and Miami are like mini-Slams, with play every other day for the field, it is a decent dress rehearsal for the stamina and mental fortitude to conquer the Slams.

Forget the clay though, it is all about consolidation of confidence for when we hit the grass, and when expectation will be at its highest, quite literally on home turf.

Konta is the No. 2 seed at WTA Charleston which begins on 3 April.

 

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