Serena Williams will look to maintain her perfect record in Australian Open semifinals, while Angelique Kerber will bid for a long awaited trip to her first major final on Thursday in Melbourne. It's semifinal day Down Under, and here's a preview of what's on tap.
Thursday, Day 11
Agnieszka Radwanska enters Thursday's semifinal with world No.1 Serena Williams as the WTA's hottest player. She's won 13 straight matches dating back to her title run at the WTA Finals last year, and the 26-year-old Pole is the only semifinalist to have already claimed a title this season. Even six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams has been impressed by Radwanska's form. "She's been playing really well towards the end of the year, and already this year she's been very consistent," Williams said after reaching the semifinals with a straight-sets victory over Maria Sharapova on Tuesday. "She presents a completely different game, an extremely exciting game. So I think it will be a long match and it will be a good match to see where I am."
Radwanska may be in scorching form, but nobody in Australian Open history has achieved more success than Williams from the semifinals on. The 21-time major champion has won the title all six times she's reached the semifinals in Melbourne, and her overall career record in Grand Slam semifinals is an otherworldly 25-4. So what can Radwanska do to give herself a chance to create a stirring upset against arguably the greatest big match player of all time? It's a question that many elite talents have pondered and failed to adequately answer. The matchup certainly favors Williams, who will look to take advantage of a huge power advantage by attacking the vulnerable second serve of Radwanska. The Pole will have to make first serves, and use her cleverness and variation to keep Williams from getting her rhythm. Any way you slice it it's a tough ask for Radwanska, but her current form and the fact that she's faced Williams in big matches before should help her in the tougher moments.
Pick: Williams in two
Great Britain's Johanna Konta is celebrating her first appearance in the main draw of the Australian Open in style?with a trip to the semifinals. After taking down China's Zhang Shuai in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, the Eastbourne resident has now won eight of her last nine Grand Slam matches. That in itself is impressive but when one takes into account the fact that Konta owned a career record of 1-7 in Grand Slam play before the streak started, it becomes evident just how vastly improved Konta has become in such a short time. A poised and cerebral player with weapons on both wings, Konta has risen 100 spots in the rankings since this time last year, thanks to an improved forehand and a newfound faith in her ability to tough out tight matches.
The opposite is true of Konta's semifinal opponent, Germany's Angelique Kerber. While Konta has been a rapid riser, Kerber has been a tried-and-true elite force on tour, and one who has been knocking on the door at Grand Slams ever since she had her breakout at the 2011 US Open. Kerber snapped a personal six-match losing streak to Victoria Azarenka on Day 10, playing courageous tennis and wreaking havoc on the speedy Belarusian with her flat, powerful backhand to clinch a spot in the last four at a major for the third time. Konta and Kerber have never met at the tour-level, but Konta has seen her share of the fit and ferocious Kerber and knows of the challenge that awaits. "She's just an incredibly good player," Konta said. "She's an amazing competitor. She's showed time and time again over the last numerous years. I'm going to go out there really enjoy it and enjoy the battle and hopefully play a good level and give the crowd a good match."
Pick: Kerber in three