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Miami Open 2016: Kerber sets up blockbuster semi-final clash with Azarenka

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760   //    31 Mar 2016, 09:12 IST
Victoria Azarenka (left) and Johanna Konta after their quarter-final match at the Miami Open on Wednesday
Azarenka (left) and Johanna Konta after their quarter-final match at the Miami Open on Wednesday

Angelique Kerber had always proved to be a fairly easy opponent for former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka until the two met at the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals.

Much to everybody’s disbelief, the German played fearlessly and refused to be intimidated by her 0-6 lifetime record against the Belarusian, inflicting a straight-set defeat on the two-time Australian Open winner.

Thursday’s semi-final clash at the Miami Open will be their first encounter since that fateful match that paved the way for Kerber’s maiden Grand Slam triumph in January. It will surely be a test of nerves for the World No. 3 and tennis fans will be eagerly waiting to see how well she can handle the pressure.

For Kerber did cave in to the mounting expectations immediately after her monumental victory as she failed to win even a single WTA match coming into the Miami Open. But it is at the Crandon Park that the second seed seems to have rediscovered her form as she booked her place in the semi-finals of this event for the first time.

On Wednesday, the 28-year-old was clinical in her 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of 22nd seed Madison Keys in the quarter-finals, breaking the American four times.

However, her next opponent would make matters far trickier as Azarenka has been playing some supremely confident tennis of late. The World No. 8, who is yet to drop a set at Key Biscayne this year, dished out some delectable shots to post a 6-4, 6-2 win over 24th seed Johanna Konta in the last-eight.

Where Kerber needs to be careful is that this is a reasonably successful tournament for Azarenka, whowon here in 2009 and 2011. And her rampaging run at Indian Wells en route to the title should do enough to send the 26-year-old’s soaring confidence even higher.

Besides, Azarenka has another motivator – she is aiming to be the first WTA player since Kim Clijsters in 2005 to pull off the Indian Wells-Miami double.

Without a doubt, Kerber has a lot on her plate if she wants to have an encore of the outcome of their Melbourne showdown!

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ATP – Djokovic sets up meeting with Goffin

15th seed David Goffin backed up his fantastic Indian Wells semi-final run by reaching the last-four stage at Miami. The Belgian came back from a set down to beat 18th seeded Gilles Simon, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

He will next meet World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who fought off a back problem to trounce seventh seed Tomas Berdych, 6-3, 6-3.

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