LINZ, Austria - She had a slow start - maybe Istanbul was on her mind - but Angelique Kerber cleared her mind and cruised past Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in the quarterfinals of the Generali Ladies Linz.
After five straight holds of serve to start the match, Mayr-Achleitner was the first one to get a sniff at a break, getting two break points as Kerber served at 2-3 - but Kerber foughed them both off and went on a tear from there, winning nine straight games to build a 63 50 lead. She would close it out, 63 61.
"I think the first few games were very tough - she was playing very well from the first point," Kerber said. "From there I just tried to focus on myself and my game plan, not thinking about Istanbul or anything else. I finally found my rhythm and played well, and I'm excited to be in the semifinals now."
With the win, Kerber earned the last spot into the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul.
"I'm very excited to take the last spot for Istanbul and be there for the second time in a row," the German said. "I'm really excited about it and I'm looking forward to playing there. The fans last year were amazing. To compete with such great players - the others are all Top 8 - it's a great feeling.
"I'm happy to have had such a consistent year, and I'm really proud to be ending my year there."
But there's still business for Kerber in Linz, and the No.1-seeded German will have to keep her focus as her next opponent is a very tough one - it's No.4 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, who needed just 66 minutes to cruise past No.5 seed Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets earlier on in the day, 61 63.
"For me it was a really good match," Suárez Navarro said. "Flipkens is really tough. She serves well and has a great slice, and it's always difficult to play her. I had to concentrate the whole match.
"For me this is the most difficult surface, so I'm really happy to be in the semifinals here."
Suárez Navarro beat Kerber in their only previous meeting, just over a month ago at the US Open.
"I need to be aggressive from the first point tomorrow," Kerber said. "I have to wait for my chances and go for my shots, and I also have to serve well against her - that's very important against her."
"I need to play well again tomorrow and just enjoy it," Suárez Navarro said. "This is one of the last tournaments of the year so I'm really enjoying myself this week, but I also want to play my best."