Angelique Kerber reached the finals of a major tennis tournament for the first time Friday afternoon. The 28-year-old German whose ranked sixth in the world dominated in her semifinal match at the Australian Open ending Johanna Konta’s Cinderella run in straight sets 7-5, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena
Neither had met in their careers but at this point in the tournament, both had a lot to gain and much at stake with droughts on the line that they each represent. Konta had an amazing journey to the semis after dropping Venus Williams that many saw as a shocker in the first round. She went on to face lower ranked opponents yet found the ability to defeat them.
She had the weight of Great Britain on her shoulders. She was two matches away from completing what no British woman had done since 1977 when Virginia King won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon. She’ll also be the first since Wade to win at Melbourne Park in 44 years. All was possible, but first it was a competition against the German who had much at stake too.
After spending time on court with four time Aussie Open champ Steffi Graff, Kerber would try to become the first German to win since 1994 when Graff captured her fourth and last. It’s been 17 years since a German woman won a Grand Slam and with her success in WTA premiers, she had more than a fighting chance at doing so to end the two-week tournament.
Kerber opened the set with a show of force winning the first three games looking like she’d have a hold on the set from start the finish. Konta tried getting things started in the fourth and was successful breaking the German that began the turn of the match. She held serve in the fifth then broke Kerber again to level up at three all. In a huge statement Konta flew through the seventh landing an ace for 40-0 before completing the love service with a winner across court.
Kerber rallied back to even things through eight and the pattern continued on through ten setting up a thrilling fight to the set win. Kerber was first to get into position for the set but had to wait while rain fell into Rod Laver Arena on a partly cloudy yet sunny day. After the brief wait, Kerber stormed to victory winning the set in 49 minutes. The unforced errors from Konta came at the wrong time putting her out of contention with 20 to Kerber’s six.
With things in control, she started the second with a two game lead in the set hoping that she could keep the Brit tamed for as long as possible. Konta put a stop to Kerber’s winning streak while on service holding her to 40-30 before the German gave her the win on an unforced error.
It was the last she would do as Kerber went right back to her run and moved one game from the final with a chance to do it in the seventh. It wasn’t meant to come on the return as Konta fought to win a second victory in the set staying alive before Kerber was handed the reins once again.
She etched out two points against Kerber but the backhanded errors were too much to recover from giving the German a ticket to the finals with a shot long from the baseline. It was a set that ended quicker than any had imagined stopping the clock at 33 minutes and the match in over 1 hour and 22 minutes.
While nothing impressive came out of Kerber that isn’t seen during one of games, she did a solid second serve that assisted well in the victory. She made just 11 unforced errors through the match. “I was just giving it everything on court and I had a great opponent across the net,” Kerber said to Sam Smith after the match.
Knowing that she had to play Serena Williams in the final on Saturday night, all that was left was to play her best possible game and be ready for whatever comes to her.