Serena Williams is two wins away from a 22nd Grand Slam title as she goes up against Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open on Thursday. A more surprising semifinal features Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta.
(1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska
Williams and Radwanska will be going head-to-head for the ninth time in their careers when they battle for a spot in the Australian Open title match on Thursday. All eight of their previous encounters have gone the way of Williams, who is 5-0 against Radwanska on hard courts and 10-0 in total hard-court sets. Their only previous Grand Slam meetings have come at Wimbledon, where the American cruised 6-4, 6-0 (2008 quarterfinals) and 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 (2012 final).
A title Down Under would be Williams’ seventh and would give her 22 slam titles for her career. So far this fortnight the world No. 1 has disposed of Camila Giorgi, Su-Wei Hsieh, Daria Kasatkina, Margarita Gasparyan, and Maria Sharapova without surrendering a set. Radwanska punched her ticket to the last four by taking out Christina McHale, Genie Bouchard, Monica Puig, Anna-Lena Friedsam, and Carla Suarez-Navarro while dropping just one set to Friedsam in the process. The fourth-ranked Pole is extremely consistent from the back of the court, but–as her past history against Williams suggest–that is not a recipe for success in this particular matchup.
Pick: Williams in 2 losing 7 games or fewer
(7) Angelique Kerber vs. Johanna Konta
This, of course, is a far more surprising semifinal–mainly because of Konta. The 24-year-old registers at 47th in the rankings and was therefore at the mercy of the draw as an unseeded floater. But she upset Venus Williams in the first round and was off to the races. Konta has since defeated Saisai Zheng, Denisa Allertova, Ekaterina Makarova, and Shuai Zhang. The Brit had previously won only four career Grand Slam matches and had been past the second round only once.
Up next for her is a first-ever meeting with Kerber. The German ousted two-time Aussie Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday. That was preceded by wins over Masaki Doi, Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Brengle, and Annika Beck. Kerber is 10-1 in 2016, having fallen only to Azarenka in the Brisbane final. The sixth seed has a huge edge in experience, as she is now a four-time major quarterfinalist and a two-time major semifinalist (previously reached the last four at Wimbledon in 2012). This is where Konta’s run ends.
Pick: Kerber in 2