The second Australian Open women’s semi features top contenders Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber both on a short turnaround.
History: Played 9: Kerber 5 V Halep 4.
Last meeting: October 25, 2016: Kerber d Halep 6-4, 6-2.
Final Thoughts: Women’s big guns Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber line up for an intense Australian Open semi-final battle just a day after featuring in the quarters – but fortunately, neither had to raise much of a sweat.
Kerber, the 21st seed and the 2016 champion in Melbourne, demolished Madison Keys 6-1-6-2 to advance. Her campaign so far has included an emphatic win over Maria Sharapova, while she has only dropped one set at the tournament, to Su Wei Hsieh in the fourth round.
The 30-year-old German is also coming off a triumph in the Sydney International, where she beat Ashleigh Barty in the final. Also the US Open champ and a Wimbledon finalist in 2016, this is just Kerber’s fourth semi appearance at a major since 2012.
World No.1 Halep has progressed in similarly straightforward fashion – aside from a three-set marathon against Lauren Davis in the third round, eventually winning the decider 15-13. But since then she has notched convincing back-to-back 6-3, 6-2 wins over Naomi Osaka and sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.
Kerber has won five of the last six meetings between the two, which all occurred during the 2016 season and included a Wimbledon quarter-final – their only previous clash in a grand slam.
But Romanian 26-year-old Halep is in peak form, winning the Shenzhen Open in her most recent outing before this tournament and reaching five finals in 2017. She took out the Madrid Open and went down to Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final.
We’re backing slight underdog Halep to outlast Kerber, but this one looks destined to go to three sets with both players on fire.