March 31: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 Konta6-4, 6-2.
Azarenka, the champion at Indian Wells earlier this month, will next face the winner of a later match between German second seed Angelique Kerber, the reigning Australian Open champion, and US 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 was injured last year and had not been in the world`s top 10 since August of 2014 until last week, will jump to fifth next week as a result of the victory.
“I`m going to continue to fight and get better,” Azarenka said. “I`m trying to push myself, keep the intensity high.”
The men`s quarter-finals began with Belgian 15th seed David Goffin rallying to beat French 18th seed Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
“It was tough at the start with a little bit of wind. It wasn`t easy to finish a point,” Goffin said. “I just tried to stay in the match and focus on what I had to do.”
Goffin matched his semi-final run from Indian Wells and will next play the winner of a later match between top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic and Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych.
“I`m feeling so good,” Goffin said. “I`m having a great month, confident for the rest of the event and the season.”
Azarenka, who won the 2009 and 2011 Miami titles, could become only the third woman to win back-to-back in Miami humidity and Indian Wells desert heat after Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996 and Kim Clijsters in 2005.
“If I win, that`s great,” Azarenka said. “But right now I`m looking to the semis.”
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.
In the first set, Konta double-faulted away a break to give Azarenka a 4-3 lead and lost a break point in the eighth game on a review. Azarenka held that game and rescued two break points in the 10th game, taking the set when Konta netted a backhand.
In the second, 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.
“I couldn`t get a good rhythm on her serve at the beginning. It was tough,” Azarenka said. “But once I got into that rhythm, I was able to make a difference.”
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 this year at Doha and Indian Wells.
Berdych has a career win-loss record of 2-22 against Djokovic and has lost their past nine meetings over three years.