Konta reaches Australian Open semis

Johanna Konta, right, of Britain is congratulated by Zhang Shuai of China

Konta lost in the first round of qualifying at last year’s Australian Open

Britain’s Johanna Konta continued her remarkable Australian Open run with a straight-sets win over China’s Zhang Shuai in the quarter-finals.

The unseeded 24-year-old won 6-4 6-1 to become the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Jo Durie made the US Open last four in 1983.

Konta, ranked 47th, will next face German seventh seed Angelique Kerber.

Fellow Briton Andy Murray takes on Spain’s David Ferrer in the men’s quarter-finals later on Wednesday.

“I didn’t put anything on this match,” said Konta. “I just wanted to come out and play the best level that I could, and give the best entertainment I could.”

Konta powers through to semis

The British number one took full advantage of facing a quarter-final opponent who was also in uncharted waters, seeing off world number 133 Zhang in one hour and 22 minutes.

Konta is likely to rise to within the top 30 in the world in the next rankings

Konta began confidently, breaking twice and serving superbly as she moved 5-2 clear before overcoming some nerves and a resurgent opponent to clinch the set.

After saving a break point that would have made it 5-5 and then converting her sixth set point, the confidence returned and Konta again earned a double-break lead in the second set.

With a Grand Slam semi-final place there for the taking, Konta saw two match points slip by but converted the third thanks to a net cord that left Zhang helpless.

“To be honest, I was taking it a match at the time. She definitely didn’t make it easy for me,” said Konta.

“Every time I was ahead she was constantly there. I’m not proud of the net cord but I’m happy I was able to fight every point.”

The latest step in Konta’s stunning rise through the tennis ranks brings with it a likely position among the world’s top 30, and guaranteed prize money of at least £370,000.

A Grand Slam final appearance is now a real possibility, arguably more so after Kerber’s surprise win over the in-form Victoria Azarenka earlier on Wednesday.

Kerber and Konta will meet for the first time in Thursday’s semi-final.

Kerber next in line for Konta

Azarenka might have been seeded seven places lower than Kerber at 14th, but the German still pulled off something of an upset by knocking out the Belarusian.

Kerber raced into an early 4-0 lead and then staged a superb second-set fightback to beat two-time champion Azarenka 6-3 7-5.

Kerber last reached a Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon in 2012

The German had lost all six previous matches against Azarenka and saved five set points from 2-5 in the second set.

“I can’t actually describe it in words,” said Kerber. “I was 0-6 (against Azarenka) before I came on court and I was just saying to myself, ‘Just play like you play in practice, just go for it and believe you can beat her.’

“I’m so happy I beat her for the first time.”

Azarenka said: “My footwork didn’t have enough, my shots didn’t have enough. I felt I did a little bit too many unforced errors in the key moments.”


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