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Sports

Miami finalist Konta thanks Murray for aiding her low key rise

media Johanna Konta is the first British woman to reach the final at the Miami Open. Reuters/Geoff Burke

Johanna Konta heaped praise on world number one Andy Murray for allowing her to rise under the radar and into the upper reaches of the women’s game. Speaking just before  Saturday’s Miami Open final, Konta said the Briton's success had kept the attention and pressure off her.

Konta, 25, is the first British woman to play in the final in Miami.

Her semi-final win in straight sets over former champion Venus Williams on Thursday ensures she will return to the top 10 in the world rankings regardless of the outcome of her clash at Crandon Park with Caroline Wozniacki.

Born in Australia, but having been based in England since she was 14, Konta has not had to deal with much of the hype and expectation that have accompanied some British players in the past.

"I think the fortunate position that I'm in is we have someone called Andy Murray who has most of the weight of expectation on his shoulders," she said after her third straight win over Williams.

Konta already has a tournament win on the WTA tour this season, triumphing in Sydney. The Miami showdown will be her second appearance in the final of a premier mandatory event which is considered to be just below a Grand Slam in terms of prestige.

Last October she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the final of the China Open in Beijing.

But for the cognoscenti on the tour, the Miami Open carries more cachet. "According to the calendar it's on par with Beijing,” said Konta diplomatically. “But I guess Miami may have more history. And obviously it's always talked about in the same breath as Indian Wells/Miami," she said.

"In terms of who I'm playing and what we're playing for, that's quite equal. I played Radwanska in that final in Beijing and now I am playing Wozniacki in the final here."

Konta will move to world number seven if she can beat Wozniacki at Key Biscayne and in the pair's only previous meeting - she swept past the Dane 6-3, 6-1 in the third round of the Australian Open in January.

"I did play very well in that match," Konta recalled. "I also remember that until the very end I knew that it was never for certain.

"I think that's the thing with Caroline: she never goes away. She's there until the very, very last ball. I know that will be my challenge on Saturday," Konta added.

Wozniacki showed her excellent defensive skills and endurance in her semi-final win over the second seed Karolina Pliskova on Thursday. Konta says she expects to be made to work hard by the former world number one who has been in excellent form this year.

"Against Caroline, I'm definitely going to be looking forward to playing a lot of balls and a lot of tough points. She's one of the best athletes in the game. She has run a marathon for goodness sake! I'm sure it'll be a match where I'll be running for a lot of balls. Hopefully we'll give a great match for the final," she said.

Saturday will be the Dane's third final of the year after she lost at Dubai and Doha.
"I'm hoping it's third-time lucky," she quipped.

 

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