Women’s Australian Open, Semi-Final Preview #2: Angelique Kerber v Johanna Konta

Angelique Kerber

The second of the Australian Open semi-finals will produce a first time Grand Slam finalist with the number 7 seed, Angelique Kerber going up against Johanna Konta. While she was the higher seed, Kerber went into her quarter-final match against Victoria Azarenka as the underdog with a 0-6 head-to-head deficit and a recent loss in the final of Brisbane. There was a quote from Kerber before the match that her coach, Torben Beltz had a new tactic for playing Azarenka… it looks like it worked! Kerber produced a terrific performance, recovering a 2-5 second set deficit and saving five set points to prevail over the Belarusian, 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 45 minutes.

Kerber’s serve held up for the most part and she was aggressive on return, constantly putting pressure on Azarenka to produce her best tennis. When Kerber’s back was against the wall down set points in the second set, she was bold and aggressive, producing three winners on five of the set points. This clearly rattled Azarenka who double faulted away the game at *5-2 having led *40-0 at one point. While I went for Azarenka as my winner in this match, I was a little concerned that she hadn’t been pushed hard in a set, let alone to three sets… on this occasion, she came up against an in-form opponent and couldn’t find the answers.

The first item on the news on the radio this morning was Jo Konta reaching the semi-finals! Konta is the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Jo Durie back in 1983. It’s been a fabulous week for Konta with seeded upsets over Venus Williiams (6-4 6-2) and Ekaterina Makarova (4-6 6-4 8-6). I watched back her match with Makarova and I was so impressed with how she played, particularly in that third set. She got a little tight serving for it at *5-4 but understandably so. There was one groundstroke long that looked nervy but I thought it was more about Makarova producing the goods, including two passing winners, more than Konta doing anything badly.

It was a terrific battle with some hard fought rallies and edge-of-your-seat tension. It’s been a challenge watching matches during this first month but it was easily my favourite WTA match of the tournament. I loved Jo’s interview; the interviewer mentioned that it had taken three hours and the Brit pointed to the scoreboard and said “Three hours AND four minutes… trust me those four minutes count”. In her first Grand Slam quarter-final, she ended the dream run of Shuai Zhang with a 6-4 6-1 victory.

Head-to-head record: Kerber and Konta will be playing each other for the first time.

Interesting stat: Kerber will crack the top five in Monday’s rankings and could go even higher if she reaches the final or wins the title. I think by the time Indian Wells and Miami comes around, Kerber will be number two in the world. For Konta, she will rise to a new career high ranking inside the world’s top 30.

Analysis: I’m really, really, really looking forward to this match and am setting my alarm early for tomorrow. I think Konta has a real chance in this one. Kerber is the clear favourite and while she tried to dismiss this in her press conference, I think she will feel that pressure with such a huge opportunity to reach a first Grand Slam final. Furthermore, for Kerber, there is a concern she could have a letdown after such a magnificent win over Azarenka. It happened to an extent when she beat Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2014 and lost the next day to Eugenie Bouchard although that was probably more down to tiredness. I think Konta starts this in a decent position but obviously the pressure will transfer if she gets into a winning position. While I think she has held it together well mentally this fortnight, she’s more of an unknown quantity in how she deals with the occasion as Kerber is the much more experienced.

I love these situations with both players trying to break new ground and while I think Konta is playing well enough to at least trouble Kerber, I think the German player will ultimately prevail…

Prediction: Kerber d. Konta in 3 sets

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

26 thoughts on “Women’s Australian Open, Semi-Final Preview #2: Angelique Kerber v Johanna Konta

  1. Kerber has to display the same type of game she did in her great win against Vika,played offensive tennis,was focused all match,providing she does this,Kerber wins in straight sets..

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    • Are you a fortune teller? Can you give me a few numbers so that I can win a lottery next week?

      Kerber may beat Konta, but playing Serena is different levels.

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  2. My predictions for the year 2016 –

    1. Aus Open – Kerber (over Serena)
    2. French Open – Sharapova (over Kerber)
    3. Wimbledon – Radwanska (over Bencic)
    4. US Open – Serena (over Azarenka)
    5. Olympics – Serena (over Sharapova)

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    • Kerber in french open final? Dont be daft. I wouldnt be surprised if she reached the final here and struggled to get back to back wins in her next few tournaments. When it comes to clay her second serve becomes even more attackable!

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    • Please don’r go overboard….give your opinoins on recent matches and form of players…and not for the whole calendar year…..Kerber winning Aus open and over and above winning Roland Garros is beyond imagination….if her first serve percentage is not good i doubt she will take the match beyond and hour mark with Serena…She is already overwhelmed by beating Vika….The Queen in 2 sets……

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  3. Melbourne is going to rain this afternoon. It will favour Djokovic and Kerber because the court speed will be slower. It will help the good returners to retrieve more balls.

    I see Konta going to the net more often than usual in the match up with Kerber. As a lefty, I believe Kerber has studied Konta previous matches. Her out wide serves won’t be able to trick the experienced Kerber. Konta will feel pressure like Zhang thinking of the next match instead of playing good tennis. Kerber will handle the pressures better in this department. I believe Kerber will win in 2…..and thenloses to Serena in the final due to pressures as usual.

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      • It will become indoor. Clearly, it will favour Novak. Federer prefers fast court for the reason why he has beaten Novak in Cici and Dubai. Federer already implied in his post match interview that it will favour good returners the match is played indoor.

        Did you watch Murray vs Ferrer? Ferrer was very furious when they closed the roof because he knew it would favour Murray.

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  4. Apologies for the off topic. I really hope Hingis/Mirza get beaten by the Czech doubles pair. Goerges just killed the match in the semi last night. She played until she cried with tears. I don’t know why Pliskova would like to partner with Goerges instead of Strycova.

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  5. Angie has retreated to the back of the court,playing defensive tennis and waiting for errors? that is not going to win you the match Angie,where is the super offensive tennis you played against Vika gone?

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    • Kerber raised her game and wins the 1st set 75,this has been an competitive 1st set,Konta showed nerves early on,which is understandable,though came back,she is the player on the front foot,though at times her shots have resulted in UFE..

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      • A most important stat of this match.Konta is getting many free points on her serve,especially her 2nd serve,Angie is a good returner.,from the 1st set.

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  6. Opps meant to type ‘not getting many free points on her serve,especially her 2nd serve,also Angie has kept her UFE count low,just 8 UFE.

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  7. Angie up 4-1 2nd set,again Konta’s serve has let her down,I understand she hasn’t played Angie before,to me she hasn’t a game plan,looks hesitant.making too many UFE,which does not help her cause.

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  8. Congratulations Kerber making your 1st GS final,defeating 75 62 against Konta,

    Congratulations also to Konta,who will be in the Top 30 after this tournament,Konta lost in the 1st rd of playing qualies last year at the AO,what a difference a year makes.Good luck Konta for the rest of the year.

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      • Commentator Sam Smith got it right, Kerber only had to play at a standard top ten level without taking risks and Konta would eventually prove to be out of her depth. Serena 6-2 6-4.

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      • I really think Konta has a lot of potentials in the future. Anyway, she has a great tournament and I hope she can do better next time.

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      • Yeah fingers crossed!! I’m super happy and I will be able to watch it. I hope she is playing without any nerves. She really has nothing to lose (it’s not a shame to lose to the GOAT in women’s tennis) wheres IMO Serena has a lot to lose. She still is trying to reach 22 titles and she is the heavy favourite.

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