A defining night for Britain's Johanna Konta. Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) previews her Australian Open semi-final.
Angelique Kerber v Johanna Konta | Thursday 04:00 | Eurosport
I've mentioned a couple of times this fortnight Johanna Konta's great form but just to reiterate – she's won 26 of her last 30 hard court matches including beating Simona Halep, Viktoria Azarenka, Garbine Muguruza, Ekaterina Makarova, Venus Williams and Andrea Petkovic. Wow.
It makes her 6-2 v the world's top 25 in this period and I can't help but think she's just a bit too big at 5/2 here in a first meeting with world number six Angelique Kerber.
Johanna was 11/8 against fellow lefty Makarova and 15/8 against Venus Williams. At the US Open she opened up at 9/4 against Muguruza before going off at 15/8 and is as short as 2/1 here, and with some 11/4 being available this morning, the 5/2 still looks value.
Kerber was virtually written off by the betting industry with almost 4/1 available on her beating Azarenka. Much of that would have the unenviable 0-6 head-to-head record and picking up just four games when they met in Brisbane a couple of weeks before but I'm not sure how the market can go from writing her off to making her a 77% chance to beat someone in Konta's form and who possesses the ability to beat top players.
Her victory against Vika on Wednesday was admirable but you wonder whether that victory might have felt like a final and the expectation may weigh heavily on her tonight.
We've already seen the likes of Fernando Verdaco upsetting Rafael Nadal before losing in the very next round as heavy favourite. I mentioned extensively Kerber's vulnerability in my 4th round preview against Annika Beck and that could come to fruition again.
Kerber has the ability to spray the ball and with Konta's decent defence she may end up forcing a few errors. Indeed against Annika Beck, who gets lots of balls back, Kerber hit 15 unforced errors to 10 winners in the 1st set before tidying things up. Having not faced Konta before, Johanna's ability to hit winners off the backhand could surprise her too.
Angelique Kerber v Johanna Konta – Johanna Konta to win (5/2 Bet365)