TENNIS: Serena Williams says Johanna Konta is a future Australian Open champion after defeating the Sydney-born Brit in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.
The six-time champion down under eased through 6-2 6-3 against Konta who had gone into the match on a nine-match and 18-set winning streak.
But Williams was impressed with the ninth seed as she continued her quest for an Open-era record 23rd major title.
"Johanna Konta has been playing so well,” said the 35-year-old second seed.
"I was in the locker room watching her clean up her matches, she is a future champion here for sure, so I am pleased to get through this.
"I got a little frustrated with my serve, but I told myself 'don't get Babyrena' and focused on enjoying myself out here.
"Today I felt I can do this, it is such a great opportunity for me.”
Konta had not dropped a set in her last nine matches before facing Williams.
But the American took an early advantage and never let up, despite her usually dominant first serve deserting her as she landed just 45%.
Williams, whose sister Venus is in the other semi-final at Melbourne, was superb on her opponent's serve, breaking four times to set up the win.
Konta did have a break point at 1-1 in the first set but could not convert.
Williams then broke the Briton's serve to lead 3-1 and did not look back to win the opening set.
Konta, who won the Sydney International earlier this month, did break the Williams serve to lead 3-1 in the second set.
But the American pounced on a loose game from Konta before winning five straight games to complete victory.