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Angelique Kerber sweeps past Roberta Vinci into US Open semi-finals

The Guardian logo The Guardian 07-09-2016 Kevin Mitchell at Flushing Meadows
Angelique Kerber during her US Open quarter-final: Angelique Kerber insists ‘I’m not thinking about quarters, semis or whatever’ despite reaching the last four of the US Open. © Rex/Shutterstockex Angelique Kerber insists ‘I’m not thinking about quarters, semis or whatever’ despite reaching the last four of the US Open.

Angelique Kerber is in the semi-finals of the US Open, completing a five-year journey that has taken her through most of the highs and lows the game has to offer.

The 28-year-old German has dipped and soared since reaching this stage of the tournament in 2011, when she was ranked 92 in the world, and hit a new peak when beating Serena Williams to win the Australian Open in January.

She then lost four matches in a row before rediscovering her form mid-summer to reach the Wimbledon final, where Williams beat her, and winning silver at the Rio Olympics, where she ran into an inspired Mónica Puig in the final.

The odds are she will play Williams in a third slam final, if the American carries her early tournament form through the second week.

The most stunning statistic of Kerber’s 7-5, 6-0 win over last year’s losing finalist, Roberta Vinci, was that 22 of her 25 unforced errors arrived in the first set. She finished the job to near perfection and will be a genuine threat all the way to the final weekend.

Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’s coach, said during his commentary stint on ESPN, the host broadcaster: “She’s playing amazing. I saw her play really bad a few times but she has found a way to win on a bad day. She has really stepped up to another level. She’s very predictable, very disciplined. A bit of uncertainty but what she does, she does it very well.”

After soaking up Vinci’s subtle variations for nearly an hour in the first set, Kerber hit the pedal in the second, blowing away the Italian in 23 minutes, with 14 clean winners and two aces.

“I’m not thinking about quarters, semis or whatever,” Kerber said. “I know that I can beat everybody and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation for going out there and playing with a lot of emotion.

“It’s one of my best years now, so that’s why my belief in myself is growing, for sure. That’s why I think I’m playing like I’m playing right now, that I am really going for it, with a lot of belief in my game and myself.

“It was also important to have patience against her and wait for my shots because she is a good mover and she brings a lot of balls back with her slice as well. After I won the first set I was more relaxed at the end.”

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