MIAMI: Victoria Azarenka withstood some early pressure from Britain’s Johanna Konta to continue her quest for a third Miami Open title with a 6-4 6-2 quarter-final victory on Wednesday.
Azarenka, who 10 days ago beat Serena Williams to win the Indian Wells title in California, was too consistent for the 24th-seeded Konta in the end to keep alive her bid to capture the second half of the Sunshine Double.
She will now face second seed Angelique Kerber, who beat American Madison Keys 6-3 6-2.
Konta, playing her first quarter-final of a WTA Premier event after making her first grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open in January, more than held her own in a first set played in blustery conditions.
Azarenka, however, rose to the occasion to fend off five break points, while Konta double-faulted twice to drop serve as the Belarusian took charge in just over 90 minutes.
“She’s such a great player,” eighth-ranked Azarenka, the 2009 and 2011 champion, told ESPN. “I see a lot of potential.
“I couldn’t actually get a read on her serve in the beginning – it was tough for me to adjust – but then I got a bit lower and tried to get more returns in, be a bit more aggressive.”
The British number one, who was ranked 151st in the world this time last year, took some satisfaction from the match.
“I’m happy with the level I was able to bring to the court,” Konta, now ranked 23rd, told the BBC. “Obviously I’m disappointed that I couldn’t have done a little bit better but I’m taking the positives from it.”
Kerber, who won the Australian Open, lost the opening match of her two previous tournaments but was helped by 39 unforced errors by Keys, the last American remaining in either draw, who was not able to put much pressure on her German opponent.
The 28-year-old left hander upset Azarenka in the quarter-final at Melbourne Park then beat Konta in the last four and Serena in the final to claim her first grand slam title.