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Azarenka will pose a major test as I eye place in final, maintains Konta

 

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All clear: Johanna Konta en route to her quarter-final win

All clear: Johanna Konta en route to her quarter-final win

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All clear: Johanna Konta en route to her quarter-final win

Great Britain's Johanna Konta is through to the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open in New York after defeating Maria Sakkari in straight sets.

Sakkari toppled Serena Williams in the last-16 but Konta had her measure a day later, the eighth seed beating the Greek 13th seed 6-4 6-3 in a solid performance in blustery conditions.

Konta will now play former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a place in the final of the tournament, the last lead-up to the US Open which begins on Monday.

The 31-year-old Azarenka, the Australian Open winner in 2012 and 2013 but now ranked 59th, advanced with a 7-6 (9) 6-2 defeat of Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

Should she make the final as the rankings suggest, 29-year-old Konta will face the winner out of fourth seed Naomi Osaka and 14th seed Elise Mertens.

"I'm always happy with every win I'm able to get but it was really tricky conditions out here," she said. "The ball was moving, it was blustery, and Maria hits a tricky ball. I was really pleased I was able to adapt well and stay tough when I needed to."

Konta has met Azarenka three times, winning two of their matches, the latest a comfortable 6-3 6-1 win in Montreal in 2018.

"We've had some great matches against each other. She's obviously playing very well," Konta said. "I'm looking forward to playing against another really great competitor. That will really challenge me."

The draw for the US Open was made yesterday and Konta, seeded ninth in New York, will face an all-British tie with Heather Watson in the first round.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova will take on Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina, while Williams, who is seeded third and chasing a 24th Grand Slam singles title to match the record of Margaret Court, will start her campaign against fellow American Kristie Ahn.

On the men's side, Andy Murray will take on rising Japanese player Yoshihito Nishioka after being given a wildcard.

The 2012 champion is set to play in his first Grand Slam since his opening-round defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in January 2019, after which he underwent an operation to resurface his hip.

Kyle Edmund has been drawn against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, with the possibility of a difficult second round against top seed Novak Djokovic.

Belfast Telegraph