Back where she belongs.@AngeliqueKerber will return to the top 10 at the end of #AusOpen 2018. pic.twitter.com/2Rqt8Yhf2q— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2018
It's the victorious yelling of German warrior Angelique Kerber. Or, conversely, it could be the cries of anguish coming from her opponents. Hsieh Su-wei gave the 2016 champion all kinds of trouble, but everything else has been fairly easy for Kerber. That includes today's quarterfinal, in which she defeated Madison Keys 6-1, 6-2 in 51 minutes. Keys was flat and uncertain, so it didn't take a lot of effort for Kerber to defeat her.
The former world number 1 has now won 14 straight matches, and--after a very disappointing 2017--she has now put herself back into the Australian Open semifinals, and she's done it in style. It's as though she suddenly remembered who she was, and then went on a rampage.
That rampage will have to remain strong in the semifinals, in which Kerber will face world number 1 Simona Halep, who played a clean, efficient quarterfinal against Karolina Pliskova. The Tall Cool One led 3-0 in the opening set, then proceeded to lose nine games in a row. She then won her first game of the second set, but continued to be bossed around the court by Halep, who routinely changed the direction of the ball, leaving Pliskova a step behind. The Romanian won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
The first Romanian woman in an #AusOpen semi!!!— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2018
After trailing 0-3 @Simona_Halep reels off 12 of the last 14 games d Karolina #Pliskova 6-3 6-2.
The usually tense Halep has looked unusually relaxed and self-confident at this tournament. She often says that she's feeling relaxed, but her body language betrays her. This time, though, it feels real. There is every reason to excitedly anticipate the upcoming match between Halep and Kerber. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to it, but on the other, I confess that I find it hard to bear the thought of either of them losing. I really want both of them to win the Australian Open!
Of course, whoever wins that match still hasn't won the open, but will have to face either Elise Mertens or Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Wozniacki is the clear favorite in that match, but if Mertens continues to keep her nerves in check (perhaps doubtful in a semifinal) and brings her best service game (which is outstanding), she has a chance to upset the world number 2.