Johanna Konta’s stranglehold over Venus Williams continued as she became the first British woman to reach the Miami Open final.
Konta was aged just six 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 showed no room for sentiment as her gruelling 6-4 7-5 semi-final win on Thursday night delivered a third successive victory against the American.
It sets up a showpiece meeting with Caroline Wozniacki and gives the British No 1 a chance to win her second title at this level – a ‘Premier Mandatory’.
It was a performance that reiterates Konta’s credentials to play at the top end of the women’s game, but the 25-year-old was more excited by who she beat rather than her own display.
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.
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 No 7 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.