MIAMI: Venus Williams exacted revenge on reigning Miami Open champion Johanna Konta on Monday with a superlative display to book her place in the quarter-finals.
Williams, 37, was made to work hard for her passage into the fourth round, fighting off three match points before eventually seeing off Kiki Bertens in a three-hour battle on Sunday.
But in Monday’s repeat of last year’s semi-final, which was won by the British number one Konta, it was the evergreen American who impressively showed no signs of fatigue to power home 5-7 6-1 6-2 in two hours and 19 minutes.
The three-time Key Biscayne champion got stronger throughout and now faces either Monica Puig or American Danielle Collins while the disappointing Konta drops out of the world top 20 for the first time since June 2016.
Ironically, it was the Briton who started the more assuredly. Konta broke the American straight away to set down an early marker in their first meeting since the semi-finals at Wimbledon last summer which resulted in home heartbreak for the 26-year old.
The seven-time grand slam winner Williams faced more breakpoints in the third although this time the danger was averted, thanks to some powerful serves which were registering at 117 mph.
Williams had her own opportunity to break in the next game which wasn’t taken though Konta managed to keep her composure and eventually see out a very tight set.
Yet just when the erratic Konta needed to put her foot on the accelerator, it was William who responded superbly to put her opponent firmly on the backfoot.
Indeed, Konta’s game seemed to totally desert her. She hit just one winner in the second set as the American began to dominate and send the encounter into a decider which began with Konta receiving lengthy treatment for a back problem.
She was treated for around 10 minutes and looked to be in discomfort. Yet the agony at being broken in the fourth game must have been harder to take.
Williams was now in complete control with Konta’s game collapsing as she headed out while her opponent could look forward to reaching the last eight.
Williams will be joined there by compatriot Sloane Stephens who powered past world number three Garbine Muguruza as the seeds continued to fall.
US Open champion Stephens dominated Spain’s reigning Wimbledon champion Muguruza to record a 6-3, 6-4 win and advance to the quarter-finals.
Stephens, the world number 12, will face Germany’s Angelique Kerber for a place in the semi-finals.
Muguruza had been the highest ranked player left in the women’s draw following the early exits of world number one Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki in the earlier rounds.
Meanwhile former world number one Kerber was made to sweat in her gruelling clash with China’s Wang Yafan before prevailing 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Kerber’s victory continues a remarkable run of results since the turn of the year.
The world number 10 has played six tournaments in 2018 and reached the quarter-finals or better in each event.
Earlier Monday, Czech fifth seed Karolina Pliskova booked her place in the last eight after opponent Zarina Diyas retired in the second set.
Pliskova was leading 6-2, 2-1 when the Kazakh player abandoned with an injury.
Meanwhile, former world number one Victoria Azarenka , who entered this year’s tournament as a wildcard, saw off Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-2.--AFP