Relaxed Kerber into last four
Originally published on 05/07/16 00:00
Four years ago, Kerber defeated Kim Clijsters and Sabine Lisicki en route to her second Grand Slam semi-final, where she lost in straight sets to Agnieszka Radwanska.
Fast forward four years and Kerber is a Grand Slam champion. The world No.4, who beat Simona Halep 7-5 7-6(2) in a high-quality encounter on Centre Court on Tuesday, will meet five-time champion Venus Williams for a place in the final.
Last season Kerber did not make it past the third round of any of the major tournaments, but after winning her maiden major at the Australian Open, she is learning to peak at the big events.
“Last year I won four titles, but I was not playing so good in the big tournaments,” said Kerber. “At the end of last year when I started my preseason, I told my coach that my goal is playing better in the big tournaments. I’m trying to enjoy it more. I’m trying to go out and not put too much pressure on myself.”
The turning point was at the WTA Finals in Singapore last year. Kerber only needed to win a set against Lucie Safarova in the final round robin match to seal her place in the semi-finals, but was beaten in straight sets by the Czech.
“After this, I told myself, I will not do the same things in the [future],” said Kerber, who admitted she put too much pressure on herself at Roland Garros, where she lost in the first round to Kiki Bertens. “When I arrived here, I was telling myself, just like in Australia, just be relaxed, playing round by round, not make things too complicated, not put pressure on myself. So that is what I changed, what I learned from Paris.
“I know that I have the game to win the big tournament. I know that I know how to do it right now. The pressure is there, of course. But I have a lot of confidence right now. I'm feeling good on the grass court. This is what counts.”
Standing between Kerber and her place in a second Grand Slam final is 36-year-old Venus Williams, who is through to her first Wimbledon semi-final in six years. Kerber has come out on top in three of their five previous meetings, and their last three matches have gone the distance. Although Williams won their most recent encounter in Montreal two years ago, Kerber triumphed on the grass at the All England Club in the 2012 Olympics.
“I played against a lot of tough matches against her,” Kerber said. “She’s always dangerous on grass, especially at Wimbledon. “She has a lot of confidence right now, she played great matches. I’m looking forward to playing her. It’s the next challenge. I will just try to play like in my last matches, being aggressive.”
Kerber could overtake Serena as world No.1 with victory in Saturday’s final (but only if Serena does not reach the final), but the German is refusing to look beyond her semi-final against the world No.1’s older sister.
“It's still far, it's a long way,” said Kerber. “Right now I'm not thinking about this. I'm thinking about my next opponent, my next match, then we will see what happen in the next few days.”