The final of the 2017 Miami Open will be contested between the number 12 seed, Caroline Wozniacki and the number 10 seed, Johanna Konta. Saturday will deliver a first time champion in Miami…
Wozniacki d. Pliskova, 5-7 6-1 6-1
Overturning a recent loss to Karolina Pliskova in Doha, Wozniacki came from a set down, rolling through the final two sets by winning 12 of the last 14 games. Pliskova made a superb start, using easy power and racking up the winners quickly. Wozniacki held her ground, looking more and more assured on the forehand side, and aided by some errors from her Czech opponent. Wozniacki even had three set points at 5-4* but Pliskova found a first serve each time to swat away the danger. Pliskova was in clutch mode again as she came back to win the set, taking advantage of a lapse in concentration from Wozniacki in her service game at 5-5 with a double fault and a backhand error.
Wozniacki gained an early foothold at the start of the second set and rode with it, holding firm on serve by saving break points in her final two service games. Pliskova’s first serve disappeared and her forehand began to leak errors. Into a decider and Wozniacki maintained a steady level, often dictating points – her forehand has been excellent this year and she hit some fine winners off that wing in the decider. Wozniacki sealed the early break on her fourth break point and came through rather comfortably in the end without much resistance from the Czech player. It was a bizarre set from Pliskova who was laboured in her movement and averaged just 38% of first serves in through the final two sets.
Wozniacki is looking superb and has advanced to a first ever final in Miami in her tenth visit to the tournament. The Dane will still need the title to crack the world’s top ten but it’s coming…
Konta d. V.Williams, 6-4 7-5
Unlike her last two matches, Konta was fast out of the blocks in the semi-finals as she quickly went up a double break on Williams in the late night semi-final on Thursday. Williams fought back in what was a very intense and well contested first set, so much so, that Konta’s coach, Wim Fissette told his charge that he had enjoyed watching the opening set. Konta did a good job at pinning Williams back behind the baseline with the more decisive hitting. After Venus won two tight deuce games, Konta won one of her own, holding to 5-3 by saving two break points (both classy saves) and getting the game on an ace. The Brit served out the first set at *5-4 in yet another deuce game.
The second set was more of the same with some very close games – Williams went up 3-1 but was unable to consolidate the break. Konta managed to break at 4-4 with an incredible get, one of many impressive shots she produced up at the net. The Brit made an error-strewn attempt at serving out the match at 5-4 but won seven of the last eight points to book her place in the final.
Konta was ready for Williams’s pace and did well at getting the first strike in. She faced some moments of disappointment during the match but once again, proved that she is one of the best right now on the WTA tour in terms of her focus and mental stability.
Head-to-head record: In their only previous match, Konta produced a sensational display to defeat Wozniacki in the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year, 6-3 6-1.
Interesting stat: Wozniacki has lost her last two finals on the WTA tour. This will be Wozniacki’s third final of 2017 having lost out to Pliskova in Doha and Elina Svitolina in Dubai. In finals across both WTA and ITF tournaments, Konta has won five of her last six.
Final thoughts: In their Australian Open clash, Konta was very secure on serve, particularly behind the second serve, and put constant pressure on Wozniacki’s service games. I’d guess this will be a much more competitive encounter for a number of reasons – firstly, the slower court surface will likely give Wozniacki more opportunity to get into longer rallies where she thrives. Furthermore, Wozniacki is playing at a much higher level, having strung together 17 match wins since their Melbourne encounter and with increasing confidence, has looked to be more aggressive when the opportunity arises. While Konta has been playing very well, she’s not quite at her destructive level from Australia where she was absolutely lethal on return.
Naturally i’m a little on the fence with both showing bundles of confidence. Still, i’m leaning towards Konta because of her more active willingness to come forward and be bold on the big points, as well as the consistency she’s shown on serve all year.