STANFORD — Flashes of a vintage Venus Williams delighted fans at the Taube Family Tennis Center on Saturday night.
In beating Alison Riske 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) in her semifinal match, the 36-year-old Compton native cranked up a few 120 m.p.h. serves as well as numerous stinging winners with both her forehand and backhand. Williams overpowered Riske early in getting out to a quick one-set lead.
“If I can control the point that often, more than likely I’m going to win most of them,” Williams said after the match.
Up 5-4 in the second set, she had a match point before double faulting three consecutive times to give the set to Riske — ultimately leading to the tiebreaker.
Looking for her 50th career singles title, Williams will play Great Britain’s Johanna Konta, who beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal.
“I’m really happy to have come through that and to be into my first final,” Konta said after the match. “I thought I served well and did a good job in the end of staying in the present.”
This will be Konta’s first career final on the WTA Tour. Williams will be playing in her 80th career final, and her eighth at the Bank of the West Classic, where she’s won twice.
The pair have split their only two meetings, with the most recent being a Konta win in the first round of the Australian Open in January. Konta can match Williams’ power from the service line and the baseline, which is what caused Venus trouble in Melbourne.
If the 25-year-old Konta can serve the way she did in Saturday’s match, she will provide another tough test for Williams today.
“I think she’s feeling good,” Williams said of Konta. “It’s always tough to play someone who’s confident.”
Coming into this week, Konta was fourth on Tour in service aces. She’s added 21 more aces through her first three matches this week. She also ranks second on Tour in converting her second serve into points won.
The final will be played at 2 p.m., representing Williams’ first afternoon match of the tournament.