Angelique Kerber was pleased with the way her game improved after beating Venus Williams in the quarter-final of the Indian Wells Masters.
The world number eight struggled early on but managed to find her range before running out a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 winner in the California desert.
The first-set tie-break could easily have gone to Williams but the veteran American committed six unforced errors to gift the set to the German.
Things began to click into place for the Wimbledon champion and she was relieved to get over the line against such a tricky opponent.
“I was really trying, in the first set especially, to find my rhythm and play my tennis but it was not so easy,” she told reporters.
“To play against Venus, it’s always tough. “I’m happy I won the first set and then could move in and play a little bit better in the second set.”
Waiting in the last four will be in-form Belinda Bencic, who beat Petra Kvitova in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships last month.
The Swiss ace downed world number five Karolina Pliskova 6-3 4-6 6-3 in the last eight to set up the Kerber encounter and the 22-year-old admitted she is punching above her weight.
“It’s been a dream,” said Naomi Osaka’s conqueror. “I wouldn’t believe I win today. I’m not going to the court with any expectations I’m just trying to play.”
Bencic is 1.80 to make the final with Kerber on offer at 2.00 but Elina Svitolina is the 3.25 favourite to lift the trophy this weekend.