UK No.1 Johanna Konta beats Venus Williams to reach final
Konta was just six years old when Williams first won this tournament 19 years ago and has cited the seven-time grand slam winner as one of her heroes.
But she is showing no room for sentiment as her gruelling 6-4 7-5 semi-final win was a third successive victory against the American.
It sets up a showpiece meeting with Caroline Wozniacki and gives the British number one a chance to win her second title at this level - a ‘Premier Mandatory’.
It was a performance that reiterates her credentials to play at the top end of the women’s game, but Konta was more excited by who she beat rather than her own display.
“To get the chance to play Venus again and share the court with her, I always enjoy it,” she said on BT Sport 1. “She is such a world class act so I feel very privileged to have had a battle against her.
“There wasn’t much in it so for me to come through that leaves me feeling very happy and maybe a bit lucky.”
An easy night looked on the cards as Konta raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set, which included two breaks, with some incredible baseline hitting that pinned Williams back.
But the 36-year-old salvaged one of those breaks and made the Briton serve it out, which she did.
Williams, barely able to land a first serve, saved five break points early in the second set and celebrated by immediately taking Konta’s delivery to lead 3-1. But Konta showed her resilience by twice taking Williams’ serve - helped by a plethora of double faults and some monstrous returns - to put her on the brink of victory at 5-4.
She fluffed her first attempt to serve the match out, but again bounced straight back to break Williams to love and made no mistake at the second attempt, closing it out 7-5, with match point being converted shortly after midnight local time.
The win books her return to the top 10 of the rankings, with a career high number seven on offer if she lifts the trophy on Saturday.
Wozniacki, who earlier stunned world number three and 2017’s most in-form player Karolina Pliskova in three sets, is on her way back up the rankings after a lengthy injury absence in 2016 and Konta is expecting a tough test.
She added: “Caroline is one of the best athletes on tour, that’s no secret so I know I am going to be running for a lot of balls and hitting a lot of balls so I am looking forward to it, it is going to be a battle and I will try my best.”