Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka’s outsider shot at the Australian Open title was squashed by a German on Wednesday in Melbourne, while unseeded Brit Johanna Konta gave fans even more to cheer about my moving into the semifinals.
The No. 14-seeded Azarenka was unable to take advantage of a break of serve late in the second set, seemingly losing nerve against No. 7 Angie Kerber 6-3, 7-5.
“Mentally I didn’t commit myself enough today,” said a shell-shocked Azarenka, who was up 5-2, 40-0 in the second, and who was 6-0 career against the German entering the match. “I didn’t push myself into making a difference. I was too flat. I did put myself in the situations to be able to turn the match around. I just didn’t commit enough, and that’s on me.”
The 26-year-old Azarenka entered Melbourne with a hot hand on the heels of the WTA Brisbane title, and in a rare uninjured state was considered a title contender despite her low seeding.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty well overall,” she said. “Three weeks of good tennis, it’s a solid effort. No one can take that away from me…You know what? When I am [thinking about the loss] I’m just going to let whatever emotion comes to me. I’m just going to work through it. If it’s sadness, if I need to cry, I may cry. I don’t know. If I need to break something, hopefully I don’t break anything. But I just might.”
Kerber looked at the win not through the lens of an Azarenka collapse but attributed it to her aggressive play.
“Before I went on court also yesterday I was practicing in my practice to be more aggressive,” she said. “I played very well. I mean, I was playing my game from the first point. Also when I was down 2-5, I was actually playing more aggressive on this time. I think that was the key. I think the key from this match was that I was playing and I won the match. She doesn’t lose it — I actually won it.”
Kerber will next meet the British wunderkind Konta, the first from her national to reach the Aussie Open semis in 33 years, who in her quarterfinal rolled past China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m very proud with how I was able to just keep focus and just keep going,” said Konta, who needed six set points to finish off the first stanza before cruising in the second. “I didn’t feel I did much wrong. She definitely raised her level and made me work for it. It was a great battle to be a part of.”
It will be a first-time meeting between Konta and Kerber.
Thursday in Melbourne will feature both women’s semifinals in (1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska, and the awesomely alliterative (7) Kerber vs. Konta.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Doh! Official Aussie Open broadcaster Channel Seven is sexist. No secret there if you’re familiar with their track record. But this week the media outlet had to remove a tweet and web story about the “sexiest woman” of the Australian Open after promoting a story where readers could “Check out the sexiest woman [sic] at the Australian Open.” No sexy for you, web perverts…According to the Sydney Morning Herald: “Former Betfair executive Scott Ferguson believes Pinnacle Sports suspended betting on a mixed doubles match at the Australian Open in a ‘cheap grab at free publicity‘ as Betfair and the tournament’s betting partner, William Hill, reported no suspicious activity on the match.”…Only 16 teams will get into the mixed doubles event at the Olympics…FiveThirtyEight stat nerd Carl Bialik is like the Weather Channel in the midst of a hurricane with all this match-fixing data, but tamper it down a bit. “At this site, we often try to use Bayesian thinking,” he writes. “That means we try to estimate the probability of something being true — our prior — and then update it as we gain new information. My Bayesian prior after match-fixing became the dominant tennis topic last week…” — Calm down or you’ll get a nerd-gasm…Spaniard David Marrero, the latest player to fall under match-fixing scrutiny, has now lost his last 10 mixed matches. “Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles,” Marrero told the Times. “But when I see the lady in front of me, I feel my hand wants to play, but my head says, ‘Be careful.’ This is not a good combination.” — That’s exactly what our hands want to do when we see a lady in front of us!…Andy Murray said, “I’ve been aware of [match fixing] since I was quite young.”…Maria Sharapova had 21 aces against Belinda Bencic and three against Serena Williams…Madison Keys on her injury, one that she has suffered before, that sent her out of the Aussie Open: “I think just probably pulled, tore an adductor. Yeah, it’s pretty much it.”…Roger Federer went on in a press conference about how far Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic has to go to reach the Top 10 before being informed that Bernard’s ranking was Top 20. “My bad” Federer said…Maria Sharapova trying to spin losing 18 times in a row to Serena Williams: “It’s motivating because she’s at a different level. She makes you go back to the drawing board, not just for me, but for many other players. She makes you work. That’s inspiring.” Sharapova says she is dealing with a forearm issue, and will travel for the upcoming Russian Fed Cup but will probably not play…Carla Suarez Navarro says she lost to Aggie Radwanska because she wasn’t able to sleep well the couple night before the match. Girl, learn about Tylenol PM…Bleacher Report knows what’s up with the headline “Why Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova Is Still the WTA’s Best Rivalry” — Because when Carla Suarez Navarro needs to get to sleep she can flip that boring beat-down on?…The six-time Aussie Open champ Bryan brothers lost in the third round for the third straight year in Melbourne, this time to Rajeev “The Rampras” Ram and Raven Klaasen…Roger Federer says his kids have plenty of advice for him: “They told me I should play on the lines. They think that’s a good thing. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll try that.’ They say do the trick where you look one way and hit the other way. I said, ‘OK, I’ll try that, too. It’s not as easy as you think it is but I’ll try.’ They’ve given me advice, if you like. Yeah, they’re good coaches.”…On Monday, 27-year-old former Aussie pro Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to match-fixing, tanking matches at the Futures level…Hey Vanity Fair, it’s no longer “A.T.P. Tour.” Because it’s no longer the 1980s…How rough was the lineman getting popped in the nads with a Roger Federer serve, and how priceless was it being shown in slow motion on the stadium big screen with the crowd as one going “OOOOOoooooooh!”…Andy Murray and Johanna Konta are the first British man and woman to reach the semifinals at the Aussie Open since John Lloyd and Sue Barker in 1977.
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