Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN
Victoria Azarenka stands two wins away from achieving the rare Indian Wells- Miami double. The 13th seed and two-time major winner defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.
Only two women have won Indian Wells and Miami in the same year and they are Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996.
“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said after the match. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”
“Great player,” Azarenka said of Konta. “I was very impressed with her improvement taking from last year and seeing how well she’s handling the pressure and going in big stages and playing really well. That’s impressive. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the future.
“I think especially for England not having women player stand out, she’s going to be the one, I think.”
“I think it’s exciting to watch her journey and see happens. She’s definitely playing top 10 level right now.”
The Belarusian who has struggled with injuries the last few years said that she always believed in herself but she still hasn’t reached her peak. “I never doubt my abilities,” said the 2009 and 2011 Miami Open winner. “What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured, the doubt was to get healthy. So always been a little bit on my mind.
“But I still feel that I’m far from my best, and that’s what’s really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep improving. Everybody has doubts. We’re human beings. I always trust my ability and I believe in myself.”
Azarenka will face-off against No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber who defeated No. 22 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2 in the evening session.
For the reigning Australian Open champion Kerber, this will be her first semifinal in Miami.
Kerber dominated her American opponent, Keys made 39 unforced errors during the match. Kerber rushed need just a little over an hour to complete the victory.
“It’s nice to play a match like this,” Kerber said. “I was feeling good. Madison is always a tough opponent. I know this because we had a lot of tough battles in the past.
“I knew that I must play very good to beat her because she played very well here in the last few matches. So it’s good. It’s good.”
She continued: “I was really trying to stay focus(ed) and stay really concentrate point by point and actually trying to really only focusing on points, on point by point.
“Because I know the tennis game, and sometimes one ball can change and turn around the match. That was my goal: to be focus(ed) and playing my game until the last point.”
Kerber notched her first win over Azarenka in the most recent quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Coming into that match, the Belarusian had a 6-0 advantage over the German.
“I went out there and trying to be really aggressive from the first point, trying to really believe in myself, because until this time I never won the match against her,” Kerber said. “It was 0-6; now it’s 1-6. I will try to go out there again like in Australia and try to believe in my game and myself and, yeah, trying to challenge her.
“It will be not easy. It will be tough match. But this is for what I am practicing, for the big matches out there, to really show what, yeah, we can do and playing the best tennis.
“So I’m really looking forward to play against her again this year.”
As for playing Azarenka in the next round, Kerber said: “She had a great start of the year, of course. She is like, yeah, on fire I think right now. I will just trying to play my game go out and try to beat her. I mean, we played two times already this year and that’s the third time.
“Yeah, I will try to enjoy it. I know that I must play really my best tennis to beat her because she won Indian Wells; she’s here now in the semis.
“Yeah, I will try to take this challenge against her.”
The other semifinal which will take place on Thursday will pit No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round, against No. 19 seed Timea Bacsinszky who knocked out two straight top 5 seeds to reach the final four.