Thursday, 12 January 2017

Konta, Radwanska into Sydney final

Women's semi finals in Sydney were hardly what you call contests, but the tennis displayed by Aga Radwanska and Johanna Konta was of such a high standard that the final tomorrow promises to be anything but one sided.

The first semi final between second seed Radwanska and unseeded Barbora Strycova provided another opportunity for Aga to showcase her on court artistry.  From the outset, the Czech Fed Cup star was in chase mode, and after her marathon quarter final effort 24 hours earlier, a whole lot of running was not her preferred option.
Aga structured numerous points meticulously and with finesse, often a menacing forehand, either for an outright winner, or followed into the net in readiness to put away the winning volley.

Barbora had a first serve percentage of an amazing 89, but it meant little, because the returning capabilities of the Polish world number three punished it severely.  Only five times did Strycova win a point on her own serve.  Indeed she only won 13 points in a forgettable opening stanza.
6-1 to Radwanska, who blotted her copybook slightly by dropping her serve once.

Set two was more of the same, except that Strycova was more competitive in more of the games.  However, not in the Radwanska service games where Aga won 16 of the 19 points decided.  
Aga continued to control virtually all the rallies, and created seven break chances on the Czech serve.  The pressure of needing to hit the lines to win points drew consistent errors from the Strycova racquet and, added to the regular winners flowing from the other end, produced two service breaks.
6-1 6-2 and Aga Radwanska through to the 2017 Apia International final.

Johanna Konta simply overpowered Genie Bouchard in the night semi final.  Bouchard held serve in the opening game, and failed to hold serve again until the second last game of the match.  Konta was serving at 3-2 in the first set, having broken the Canadian serve twice and dropping her own once.  Chances to level were not taken by Genie at this point, and there were no more given.

Some of the cross court forehands offered by the Australian-born Brit were brutal and the backhand winners down the line hit with just as much speed, a delight to behold.
Genie was doing most of the right things, but just outclassed on this occasion.
6-2 and the first set was gone.  In a flash, Johanna had chalked up another three games, including two service breaks in the second set.

Genie brought the crowd to its feet with some excellent tennis of her own to break the Konta serve and trail 1-3, posing a question of the world number ten.  The emphatic answer was to break straight back and then extend the advantage to 5-1.
The match was over 6-2 6-2 with Bouchard only able to win 39% of points on her serve for the match.

The final will pit two contrasting styles - the power of Konta and the deft touch of Radwanska.  Both players are smart tacticians, and they will be thinking two and three shots ahead, so the rallies should be quality and fun to watch.  Aga is leading 2-0 head to head and I believe she can make it three from three in three sets.

It was a night for Great Britain, with the number one seed Dominic Thiem taken down in a quarter final by unseeded Englishman Daniel Evans in three sets, after Evans lost the opener.  Evans will face another unseeded player Andrey Kuznetsov in the semi finals after the Russian rid the tournament of fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
The other semi final features third seed Viktor Troicki and sixth seed Gilles Muller.
Troicki received a walkover from Philippe Kohlschreiber while Muller defeated second seed Pablo Cuevas in two close sets.

Auckland semi finals are also set: 
Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis against unseeded Joao Sousa and the all-American clash fourth seed Jack Sock v seventh seed Steve Johnson.

In Hobart, there are some big surprises.  127th ranked Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens defeated top seed Kiki Bertens to make the semi final where she will play another qualifier, Croatian Jana Fett, ranked 340.
The other semi final matches up Lesia Tsurenko from the Ukraine and third seed Monica Niculescu from Romania.

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