WTA Tour

Kerber books semi date with Azarenka

Angelique Kerber (AFP)
Angelique Kerber (AFP)

Miami - Reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber cruised into the ATP and WTA Miami Open semi-finals on Wednesday by dispatching US 22nd seed Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2.

The German second seed will play a Thursday semi-final against two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one from Belarus who defeated British 24th seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.

Azarenka is 6-1 lifetime against Kerber, but lost their most recent meeting in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

"I know I have to play my best tennis against her," Kerber said. "I will be ready."

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova meets Swiss 19th seed Timea Bacsinszky in the other semi-final. The 30-year-old Russian has won both their previous meetings.

Kerber, her left thigh heavily taped, broke Keys in the penultimate game of the first set and the first and third games of the second set to seize command on her way to winning in 68 minutes, thanks in part to taking 13 of 18 points off Keys' second serve.

"I was trying to attack the second serve and be great on the return," Kerber said. "I wanted to be aggressive and keep moving. I think it worked."

The 28-year-old left-hander, who beat world number one Serena Williams in the Melbourne final for her first Grand Slam title, is the only top-12 women's seed still playing.

The men's quarter-finals began with Belgian 15th seed David Goffin rallying to beat French 18th seed Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

"It was tough at the start with a little bit of wind. It wasn't easy to finish a point," Goffin said. "I just tried to stay in the match and focus on what I had to do."

Goffin matched his semi-final run from Indian Wells and will next play the winner of a later match between top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic and Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych.

"I'm feeling so good," Goffin said. "I'm having a great month, confident for the rest of the event and the season."

Eighth-ranked Azarenka, the champion at Indian Wells earlier this month, will jump to fifth in the world next week. 

"I'm going to continue to fight and get better," Azarenka said. "I'm trying to push myself, keep the intensity high."

Azarenka, who won the 2009 and 2011 Miami titles, could become only the third woman to win back-to-back in Miami humidity and Indian Wells desert heat after Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996 and Kim Clijsters in 2005.

"If I win, that's great," Azarenka said. "But right now I'm looking to the semis."

Azarenka, who won her first title since 2013 in January at Brisbane, seeks her 20th career WTA singles crown after beating Williams in the Indian Wells final.

Djokovic, trying to match Andre Agassi's record of six Miami titles, has won 13 matches in a row at the hard-court event and 27 of his past 28.

The 28-year-old Serbian won his 11th Grand Slam title two months ago at the Australian Open and also has crowns this year at Doha and Indian Wells.

Berdych has a career win-loss record of 2-22 against Djokovic and has lost their past nine meetings over three years.

Scores on Wednesday from the ninth day of the ATP and WTA Miami Open (x denotes seeded player):



David Goffin (BEL x15) bt Gilles Simon (FRA x18) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x7) 6-3, 6-3



Victoria Azarenka (BLR x13) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x24) 6-4, 6-2

Angelique Kerber (GER x2) bt Madison Keys (USA x22) 6-3, 6-2

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