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Wozniaki stands between Konta and landmark win


By Eleanor Crooks

Johanna Konta's stranglehold over Venus Williams continued as she became the first British woman to reach the Miami Open 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 idols.

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 tonight and gives the British number one a chance to win her second title at this level - a 'Premier Mandatory'.

Former world number one Wozniacki fought back from behind to beat Karolina Pliskova and reach the final for the first time in her career.

Wozniacki dropped a 62-minute opening set against the tournament second seed before turning on the style to secure a 5-7 6-1 6-1 success.

The turning point for Wozniacki came with a nine-minute service hold in the first game of the second set, before she immediately broke the Czech to seize the advantage.

As Pliskova's first-serve percentage plummeted, Wozniacki stepped up her own game, winning 75 per cent of points on her own serve to wrap up what ultimately proved to be an easy win.

Former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Barbora Strycova has become the latest player to criticise the allowances being made for Maria Sharapova on her return to tennis.

Sharapova, a former world number one and five-time grand slam winner, was initially banned for two years after failing a doping test at last year's Australian Open before having the punishment reduced to 15 months on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

She will return to action at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, playing her first match on Wednesday, April 26, which is the day her suspension ends.

Handed a wild card to the tournament, Sharapova can play no part on the opening Monday or Tuesday, and allowing her to compete has been questioned by Britain's Heather Watson and Denmark's former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

Strycova, a 31-year-old Czech, almost walked away from the sport in February 2013 when she was banned after testing positive for the stimulant sibutramine, which she unknowingly ingested when taking a slimming aid.

She served a six-month suspension but the red carpet was not rolled out on her own return, Strycova said.

World number 20 Strycova said: "I think it's not OK. I think when you do something like this you have to be punished. But she is Maria and what can you do? I'm a bit shocked with what is happening at the tournament in Stuttgart but I can't change it so I won't think about it.

"Of course it would have been nice to have wild cards when I came back but I'm not Sharapova. Nothing changed for her. She can play the same tournaments as me.

"I don't have anything against her, and if I play her I will prepare the same - I won't feel pushed to win any more than I normally do. That's her problem; she did it; this is her career. What I don't like is that she can play Wednesday, whereas we are coming from the Fed Cup and we have to play on Tuesday.

"It's nothing against her, but for me it is against the rules."

  • Rafael Nadal is into the final of the men’s section of the Miami Open after he defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini in yesterday’s semi-final.

The Spaniard took very little time to see off Fognini, 6-1 7-5, and will face either old adversary Roger Federer or in-form Australian Nick Kyrgios in tomorrow’s final.

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