Australian Open semifinals preview: Serena-Radwanska, Kerber-Konta
On Thursday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, the four remaining women are in action competing for a spot in the 2016 title match. Play begins at 9:30 p.m. ET. Click here for the full order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.
Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams has made six Australian Open semifinals in her career. She also has six Australian Open titles. The No. 1-seed will try to continue that streak against No. 4-seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday in the first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena (not before 9:30 p.m. ET).
The match will be a clash of Serena’s power and Radwanska’s court craft and it will be the first time they've faced each other in a Grand Slam since the 2012 Wimbledon final, where Serena prevailed 6–1, 5–7, 6–2.
“I know Aga really well,” Serena said. “Like I said on the court, she's a really nice girl. She goes out of her way to say hi. It's really cool. We always get along. Like I said, whoever wins, we both deserve to be in the final. If she wins, I'll be very happy for her. I'm sure she'll feel the same way.”
Serena leads the head-to-head match-up with Radwanska 8–0 and has dropped only one set in those eight matches. The Pole is into her second semifinal in Melbourne after taking out No. 10-seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6–1, 6–3 on Tuesday and has now made the semifinals or better at a Slam the last five years.
Radwanska will move to No. 3 in the rankings after her win over Suarez Navarro and can match her career-high ranking of No. 2 if she beats Serena and advances to the final in Melbourne.
Angelique Kerber vs. Johanna Konta
The two surprise semifinalists of the tournament will meet for the first time on Thursday to play for a spot in the Australian Open final.
No. 7-seed Kerber advanced after upsetting Victoria Azarenka 6–3, 7–5 to earn her first career win over the Belarusian and Konta earned her spot in the semifinal match with a win over Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang.
Though Konta was a favorite over her quarterfinals opponent, she’ll likely be an underdog against Kerber, who is into her third career Slam semifinal. But the 24-year-old says neither positioning gives her an edge in the match.
“I mean, whether you're the favorite or the underdog, I think that's very much a circumstantial thing outside of the match that I'm playing. I don't really think about that. It's neither here nor there for me,” Konta said. “For me it's just about going into every match and being very clear on what I want to achieve out there and being very processor orientated and sticking to my beliefs and really the not judging myself on the results that come.”
A year ago, Konta came into the tournament ranked No. 144 in the world and lost in straight sets in the qualifying rounds. This year, the 24-year-old came in ranked World No. 47 and defeated Venus Williams and Ekaterina Makarova en route to her first Slam semifinal.
“It doesn't matter against who I'm playing in the semis,” Kerber said. “I will just try to focusing like today, to be aggressive, more focusing on my game, and then let's see how far I can get here.”
The 28-year-old German battled back from 2-5 down in the second set against Azarenka and will be a tough test for Konta.
“Not just lefty—she's just an incredibly good player. She's an amazing competitor. She's showed time and time again over the last numerous years,” Konta said. “I'm going to go out there really enjoy it and enjoy the battle and hopefully, yeah, play a good level and give the crowd a good match.”