Azarenka downs Konta to reach Miami semi-finals


Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka advanced to the semi-finals of the ATP and WTA Miami Open on Wednesday by defeating British 24th seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.

Azarenka, coming off a title at Indian Wells, will next face the winner of a later match between German second seed Angelique Kerber, the reigning Australian Open champion, and American 22nd seed Madison Keys.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Swiss 19th seed Timea Bacsinszky will meet in Thursday’s other women’s semi-final.

Eighth-ranked Azarenka, who had not been in the world’s top 10 since August 2014 until Indian Wells, will jump to fifth next week as a result of the victory.

Azarenka, who won the 2009 and 2011 Miami titles, could become only the third woman to win Miami and Indian Wells back-to-back after Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996 and Kim Clijsters in 2005.

Azarenka, who won her first title since 2013 in January at Brisbane, seeks her 20th career WTA singles crown after beating world number one Serena Williams in the Indian Wells final.

Australian Open semi-finalist Konta, who was born in Australia and became a British citizen in 2012, is the first British woman in the top 25 since 1987.

Azarenka saved a break point in the sixth game with a forehand winner and took a 4-3 opening-set lead when Konta double faulted away a break.

Konta looked to have broken back in the eighth game when Azarenka netted a forehand, but the Belarusian appealed for a review of Konta’s previous forehand and it was ruled to have landed just beyond the baseline.

The former world number one made the most of her second chance and held for 5-3.

Azarenka netted a forehand on set point in the ninth game, then rescued two break points with a forehand winner and when Konta hit a backhand long, before taking the set when Konta netted a backhand.

In the second set, Azarenka broke to love for a 2-1 lead, part of a run of 11 consecutive points. Konta sent a forehand long to surrender another break in the fifth game and Azarenka held twice to advance.

The men’s quarter-finals begin later Wednesday with top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic facing Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych and Belgian 15th seed David Goffin meeting French 18th seed Gilles Simon.

Berdych has a career win-loss record of 2-22 against Djokovic and has lost their past nine meetings over three years.

Djokovic, trying to match Andre Agassi’s record of six Miami titles, has won 13 matches in a row at the hardcourt event and 27 of his past 28.

The 28-year-old Serbian won his 11th Grand Slam title two months ago at the Australian Open and also has crowns at Indian Wells and Doha this year.