So after saying that Williams would need to perform Today, She did! She faces Lucic- Baroni in the Semi-Final after the Croat defeated Karolina Pliskova,snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Serena knew She couldn’t take Konta lightly and She didn’t. It wasn’t Williams at her absolute best but it was tactically spot on. Konta might not of served to quite the same level as she has for the past two weeks, but that was down to Williams constantly putting her on the backfoot. She returned well today and that was obviously key, striking the first blow off the delivery regularly This meant the Brit was having to go for both more on her delivery and the return of Serve. Serena just did everything better than her opponent Today as you would expect. Konta showed from the First point, with a forehand winner down the line that she wasn’t phased coming into the Quarter-Final contest. Williams really went at Konta’s forehand, something that only she has probably got in the locker right now in the Women’s game. The Forehand roared its fair share of Winners and She constantly looked to be ultra aggressive. She had a minor blip at the start of the Second, dropping Serve carelessly. However Konta’s level dropped in the fifth game of the second, spraying several forehand errors leading to break point. It was here that Williams played a point that shows just how much she wants this Title to add to her collection. Combining athleticism, power, hustle and racket control to break serve in a point she had no right to Win. From here she cruised to a 6/2 6/3 Victory, winning the last 5 games. The Serve still needs slight improvement, though it still yielded 10 aces here. It’s been a successful start to the year for Konta though and as she said after, “I think it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I think there’s so many things I can learn from that, so many things I can look to improve on, also acknowledge some things that I did well. I think, credit to her, she played an almost perfect first set.” She will no doubt learn from this and will also take a great deal of satisfaction, I’m sure out of Williams saying that “She’s a future champion” in Australia. The 2015 Champion is also aware that she cannot take Lucic- Baroni lightly in their Semi-Final. The Croat looked to be in all kinds of trouble again here before prevailing. Her left leg barely has any more space for tape, but its doesn’t seem to be hugely effecting her. She was aggressive in the First set and bossed the World Number 5, who was far too passive especially by her normal standards. This leading to a string of forehand winners from the Croat, who doesn’t need a second invitation to take a shot on. Lucic-Baroni went a set and break up before Pliskova knuckled down to the task. She started to keep it away from her opponents forehand and getting in the crucial blow first levelling the match up. . In the decider both players traded breaks, before the Croat took an off Court medical time out for her left leg (taping) at *3/4. On returning Lucic-Baroni Served superbly showing no signs of any problems physically. The Czech kind of lost her focus and the plot really, which was a surprise seeing as her demeanour is often one of calmness from the outside. It looks to be a harsh lesson , but one I’m sure she will learn from.
Rafael Nadal continued his impressive run here with a surprise straight sets Victory over the out of sorts Milos Raonic, who had treatment for an adductor injury midway through the Second Set. The Canadian wasn’t at his best and with him actually denying it hampered him at all, I cant help feel that the flu bug combined with this latest injury has done his chances. That’s the one worry for Raonic, that he does seem pretty injury prone of late in particular. For Rafa you can’t take it away from him, he’s looked good, and you can only beat what’s put in front of you after all. This should however have been more of a test today and it wasn’t. Raonic did blow 6 set points in the Second Set showing signs of nerves with the double fault on one of them. Who knows what would of happened had he taken one of these set points? We will never know, its difficult to see how with his fitness issues it would of made much of a difference. Rafa played well enough when it mattered today and that’s all that counts If your winning the big points your doing something right and he’s doing that right now again. For Raonic its disappointing, this was a genuine chance of taking his First Grand Slam Title and he’s come up short. Nadal will square off against Grigor Dimitrov, who had far too much for a tired looking David Goffin. The Belgian was constantly being put under threat on his Serve. Goffin looked a beat man from an early stage in this one, he didn’t seem to have any clues how to hurt or break Dimitrov down. The Bulgarian constructing his points well and right now is living up to his ‘Baby Fed’ nickname. He’s been in good shape of late and finally looks to be taking the next step forward in his career. Nadal will be the ultimate test to see where he is at right now. He will need to show all the attributes of a top player in a big match scenario, something he has shown before but not consistently as yet.
Andy Del Potro