Australian Open: Kerber shocks Azarenka in Melbourne
Angelique Kerber has stunned Victoria Azarenka to reach just her third grand slam semi-final, winning through in straight sets at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The German had lost all six previous meetings with Azarenka, but turned that around in style with a 6-3 7-5 victory in their quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena.
Kerber had been thrashed by the in-form Belarusian in the Brisbane International final to start the year.
But the left-hander made a strong start as Azarenka, a two-time champion in Melbourne, faltered, before Kerber needed to rally in the second set to reach her first slam semi-final since Wimbledon in 2012.
Kerber, the seventh seed, was far more consistent from the back of the court and hit 19 of her 31 winners from the forehand side.
Azarenka’s backhand proved to be her major problem, leading to 20 of her 33 unforced errors as she surprisingly bowed out despite her impeccable early-season form.
As Kerber built from solid to impressive early on, Azarenka was making mistakes aplenty.
Kerber won an 18-shot point with a stunning forehand crosscourt pass on her way to breaking for 3-0, a lead gifted to her with an Azarenka double fault.
Azarenka trailed 4-0 before the momentum swung as she pulled back one break of serve, only for Kerber to slow her charge.
A 16-point eighth game went Kerber’s way after she fought from 15-40 down to take a 5-3 lead, which she converted into the first set.
Azarenka had at least slowed Kerber’s explosive start and she grabbed the upper-hand to start the second set.
She appeared in control of the set as she went 5-2 up, but she squandered two set points in the 10th game as Kerber broke for 5-5.
Another unforced error from Azarenka set up a match point for Kerber in the 12th game and she converted her first opportunity.
Kerber  bt Azarenka  6-3 7-5
Kerber – 4
Azarenka – 2
Kerber – 31/16
Azarenka – 28/33
BREAK POINTS WON
Kerber – 6/13
Azarenka – 3/8
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Kerber – 64
Azarenka – 70
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Kerber – 58/56
Azarenka – 54/38
Kerber – 81
Azarenka – 69