Konta and Kerber set up surprise semi-final tie


Johanna Konta again made history at the Australian Open as Victoria Azarenka suffered a surprise defeat to Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.

Already the first British woman to reach the last eight of a grand slam in more than 30 years, the Australian-born Konta moved into the last four with a 6-4 6-1 win over another surprise package, China's Zhang Shuai.

And Konta will face Kerber in the last four after the German brought a halt to Azarenka's excellent recent form.

Despite being lower in the rankings than her opponent, Azarenka was expected to extend her superb head-to-head record against Kerber and remain on course for a third title at Melbourne Park.

However, it was the seventh seed who prevailed - coming from behind in the second set to triumph 6-3 7-5.



The day's first semi-final looked to be headed for a decider when Azarenka moved 5-2 up in the second set and then got to 40-0 on her serve. However, the Belarusian spurned three set points, before squandering two more in her next service game as Kerber reeled off five games in a row to secure victory.

Zhang saved five set points in the opener against Konta, but eventually fell behind as the Briton produced a trademark big serve.



Azarenka won just 38 per cent of her second-service points and made more than twice as many unforced errors (33) as Kerber (16).

Konta's aggressive approach against Azarenka was summed up by the fact she hit five return winners, as Zhang managed just one.



Jo Durie - the last British woman to make the last four of a grand slam in 1983 - tweeted congratulations to Konta, with a post that read: "Jo did it in style in the end! Brilliant....so composed & confident. Fabulous @JoKonta91 #history."

Following her loss to Kerber, Azarenka posted a lengthy message on Twitter

It began: "Not the outcome I wanted today, but I want to congratulate Angelique for a great win and battle. Good luck for the rest of the tournament! This summer has been a good start for me, that showed me that I'm moving in the right direction, but also a good reminder that there is work to be done to get better."



Asked in a news conference to highlight areas she can work on, Azarenka replied: "Everything. It's as simple as that. I want to be a better player overall - I want to be better physically; I want to play better; I want to be stronger. Every aspect of my game I have to work on."



The women's semi-finals take place on Thursday, with reigning champion and top seed Serena Williams facing Agnieszka Radwanska prior to Kerber's clash with Konta.



Angelique Kerber [7] beat Victoria Azarenka [14] 6-3 7-5
Johanna Konta beat Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-1