Tennis: Briton Johanna Konta set for top 10 debut with China Open semi-final win

Johanna Konta of Britain hits a return against Madison Keys of the US during their women's singles semi-final match at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on Oct 8, 2016.
Johanna Konta of Britain hits a return against Madison Keys of the US during their women's singles semi-final match at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on Oct 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Beijing (AFP) - Johanna Konta is set to become the first British woman in a generation to break into the top 10 as she booked her spot in the China Open final on Saturday.

The Briton put in a solid performance to advance to the biggest final of her career, beating eighth-ranked American Madison Keys 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-4.

After a tight first set, Keys' serve let her down in the tiebreaker but she rallied in the second despite continued pressure from the Briton.

After demanding seven set points from Keys for the second set, Konta stepped up her game in the third, keeping the American on the defensive to take her a step closer to her second season - and career - title.

"I don't think she made a lot of unforced errors or gave me a lot of balls to be able to get on the offense," Keys told reporters.

Konta, 25, burst onto the scene at last year's US Open where she reached the round of 16 claiming two top 20 scalps en route.

She has gone up another gear this season, becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final in 33 years at the Australian Open and reaching the quarter finals at the Rio Olympics.

The win in the Chinese capital is yet another one for the record books: she will be the first British woman to break into the top 10 since Jo Durie in 1984 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Durie, who reached a career high of No. 5, tweeted her congratulations after the match.

"Congrats to @JoKonta91 a fantastic year & thoroughly deserves the Top Ten ranking. More to come I'm sure," she wrote.

There was a lot on the line for both players as they chase points to qualify for the first time for the eight-player singles field at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Konta moves into eighth spot with the win, while Keys remains in seventh position.

Konta will face either world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska - who took the Beijing crown in 2011 - or Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in Sunday's final.