A frustrated Serena Williams clawed into her 10th Miami final on Thursday, defeating Simona Halep 6-2 4-6 7-5.
The forehand of Williams, apparently rattled by the Halep cheer squad who drowned out most of the chants for the home hope, deserted her in the second set, in which Halep converted the only break point to force a third.
The world No.1, who captured her 19th grand slam title at January’s Australian Open, regrouped to seize a 5-2 lead in the third only for the third-ranked Romanian to battle back.
Finally, Williams found a way and she will bid for an eighth Miami title against Carla Suarez Navarro.
The Spaniard earned her place in the biggest match of her career with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.
Williams has won all four of her matches against Suarez Navarro without dropping a set.
Suarez Navarro became the first Spanish woman in more than two decades to reach the Miami final.
The last Spaniard to play for the trophy was two-time champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1993, beating Steffi Graf in that final.
Saturday’s final against seven-time winner Williams will be the biggest career test yet for Suarez Navarro, seeded 12th.
The unstoppable Williams is bidding to win a third straight Miami title.
Suarez Navarro came out on top of a loose match, combining with Petkovic for nearly 60 unforced errors in less than 90 minutes on court.
The Spanish winner broke on three of 10 chances and was never in trouble against her German opponent.
“I played a good match, an important match like this is difficult,” said the winner. “I just tried to play my game and enjoy it.
“Playing this final is an important event for me. I train in the off-season in hopes of playing a final like this.”
Petkovic came to the semi-final without the loss of a set in the tournament conceding just 18 games.
Suarez Navarro owns just one title at the WTA level after winning in Portugal last spring.