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Kerber stuns Azarenka to enter semis

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  28 Jan 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Melbourne, Jan 27: Seventh seed Angelique Kerber earned a first win over former No.1 Victoria Azarenka in emphatic style, winning 6-3, 7-5, to reach the semi-fils of the Australian Open tennis tourment here on Wednesday.

“I can’t describe it in words,” she said after winning.

“I was 0-6 before I came here on court, but I was just telling myself, ‘Just play like you play on the practice courts and just go for it, and just believe that you can beat her.’ I’m actually so, so happy that I beat her for the first time!”

Azarenka had looked to be the odds-on favourite to reach a third Australian Open fil - having won the title twice before in 2012 and 2013 - but was out of sorts from the start against Kerber, who raced out to a 4-0 lead.

Easing her way back into the match, the Belarusian came close to levelling after winning 11 of 13 points to get one of the breaks back, but Kerber survived a marathon service game to remain in front and break once more to clinch the opening set.

“I was trying to serve very good from the first point, move well, and try to be more aggressive than the last few times I played against her, going for it and waiting for the first shot. It’s just amazing; it was incredible playing here on the centre court.”

Meanwhile, Unseeded Johan Konta became the first British woman to reach the Australian Open tennis semi-fils since 1977 when she outlasted relentless qualifier, Zhang Shuai, 6-4, 6-1 here.

“I was really just taking it one match at a time while I was here and, even more simply, a point at a time,” she said after winning on Wednesday.

Not since Sue Barker made the fil four nearly 40 years ago had a Briton gone this far in Melbourne, and Konta had to face a battle-tested opponent across the net.

Zhang began her tourment with three wins in qualifying and a massive win over No.2 seed Simo Halep.

“She definitely didn’t make it easy for me today; every time I got a little bit ahead, she was constantly there.”

But Konta’s run had been equally impressive Down Under, defeating No.8 seed Venus Williams in the first round and surviving a thrilling three-setter with 2015 semifilist Ekateri Makarova in the round of 16.

Showing few signs of fatigue, Konta raced out to a 5-2 lead but needed six set points to put away Zhang, who nearly brought the match back on level terms in the tenth game.

“I really enjoyed playing in front of you guys,” she said at the Rod Laver Are.

“This is why we play, to get the chance to play in front of such a wonderful crowd. I just wanted to make sure I came out and played the best level I could and, hopefully, gave everyone some good entertainment!”

With the first set in hand, the Briton never looked back, hitting 28 winners and drawing 20 unforced errors out the Chinesewoman to reach her first Grand Slam semi-fil in 83 minutes.(IANS)

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