Jo’s set for final push to reach world No 7
THE LAST time Caroline Wozniacki came up against Jo Konta she was reduced to a look of resigned bemusement. It was January’s third round of the Australian Open and the former world No 1 was given a rare chasing by the Eastbourne-based player. Konta lost just four games with a performance so sparkling it almost had you rubbing your eyes in disbelief.
More of the same when they meet today in the final of the Miami Open and Konta will not only collect her biggest title, she will be propelled to a career-best No 7 in the rankings.
She reached her second final at this level — after Beijing last October — by knocking out Venus Williams 6-4, 7-5.
So there is a British player in the final as this leg of the tour on the North American hard courts concludes, just not the one that might have been expected.
Konta admitted she enjoys having some sense of expectation removed by travelling in the wake of a male counterpart who is the more celebrated No 1.
‘I think the fortunate position that I’m in is we have someone called Andy Murray who, bless him, has carried most of that weight on his shoulders,’ she said after serving out her semifinal just after midnight.
Much more of this and she may not be in his slipstream for long, for Konta’s development into one of the WTA’s most solid all-round performers shows no sign of slowing. This year she has compiled an 18-3 record, won the Sydney title (albeit a lesser tournament) and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The women’s game is wide open at the top, with its only superstar, Serena Williams, being effectively part-time. There is no reason why Konta cannot go higher.
Wozniacki has begun to look more like her old self, achieving the level of consistency that once saw her top the rankings.
This will be her third final of the year, but the memory of her first meeting with Konta is relatively fresh.
The British No 1 is guarded to the point of obsessive about not talking herself up, so it is a measure of how good she was in that encounter with Wozniacki in Australia that she did not attempt to play it down.
‘I remember I played very well that match,’ she said. ‘And also that until the very end I knew that it was never certain. That’s the thing with Caroline. She never goes away.
‘I’m going to be playing a lot of balls and a lot of tough points. She’s one of the best athletes in the game. She ran a marathon for goodness sake (the Dane ran the 2014 New York marathon in three hours 26 minutes). I’ll be doing a lot of running.’
In last night’s men’s semi-finals Rafael Nadal eased past Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5. Later on, Roger Federer was due to face Australian Nick Kyrgios, whose 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 quarter-final win over Alex Zverev may well turn out to be the template for the next big rivalry in the men’s game.
TV: LIVE Miami Open women’s final: Konta v Wozniacki on BT Sport 2 from 5.45pm.