MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Angelique Kerber ended Johanna Konta’s fairytale run at the Australian Open with a 7-5 6-2 victory on Thursday to earn a place in her first grand slam final.
Kerber, the first German woman to reach the Melbourne title decider in 20 years, subdued the British main draw debutante in 82 minutes to set up a meeting with reigning champion Serena Williams.
Konta, Britain’s first women’s semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 39 years, recovered from a nervous start to take the match to the seventh seed in a tight first set.
Kerber kept her composure, however, and secured a decisive break for 6-5 in the first set before overwhelming the world number 47 in the second, sealing victory when Konta went long with a backhand return.
“It’s a really special moment to reach the finals for the first time,” said Kerber.
“I was just trying to give everything on court. Johanna had a great two weeks and has a great future. She was a tough opponent and I’m sure she will win many tournaments.
“It’s great for German tennis to reach the final here. I got a lot of messages yesterday.”
Konta showed her understandable nerves with eight unforced errors in the opening two games and Kerber took full advantage to race to a 3-0 lead.
The Sydney-born Briton had beaten Venus Williams and last year’s semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova on her remarkable run at Melbourne Park and hit back to win the next four games and put the set back on serve.
The German was guilty of trying to force winners at times but grabbed two break points at 5-5, converting the second when Konta slapped a forehand into the net at the end of a 10-shot rally.
The lefthander sealed the set with a simple net volley after another long rally and broke Konta to open the second, firing down her first ace to save a break point in the following game.
That was the last break point Konta was to earn and 28-year-old Kerber was soon contemplating the match-up with world number one Williams.
“I’m really looking forward to playing Serena in the final,” Kerber said. “It’s amazing to play the world number one in first grand slam of year.
“I must play my best tennis against her. I have nothing to lose and will give it everything and hopefully play good.”
Konta had no complaints about her defeat.
“I played against a better player today who earned her right to a grand slam final,” she said.
“But I’m really taking a lot of positives out of it … I’ve really enjoyed the battles, I think that has been a really good experience.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)