Konta to face off with Radwanska in Sydney final

AFP, SYDNEY

Fri, Jan 13, 2017 - Page 16

Johanna Konta blasted Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets to set up an Apia International final with Agnieszka Radwanska in Sydney yesterday.

The British sixth seed dominated her evening semi-final with the former Wimbledon finalist, winning 6-2, 6-2 in 68 minutes.

She faces Polish second seed Radwanska, who is one win away from her second Sydney title after crushing fatigued Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 earlier.

Konta lost both her only two matches with Radwanska last year, but she has been in terrific form this week, accounting for Arina Rodionova, Daria Gavrilova, Daria Kasatkina and now Bouchard without dropping a set.

“She’s been one of the best players for as long as I can remember, so she’s definitely doing something right,” Konta said of facing Radwanska in the final. “I’ve played her twice before, I’ve lost twice, so hopefully I will do a better job tomorrow, but either way I am looking forward to the challenge.”

It will be 25-year-old Konta’s third career WTA Tour final after winning in Stanford and finishing runner-up in Beijing last year.

Radwanska, the 2013 champion, was too clinical for the 19th-ranked Czech, who was showing the draining effects of her 4 hours, 22 minutes on court in the singles and doubles on Wednesday.

“I think I’m playing better and better each match,” Radwanska said. “I really like to play in Australia. I love the courts. I feel very comfortable here and in Melbourne. I’m just very happy to make another final, especially here when it’s always very strong tournament.”

Radwanska, who has reached two Australian Open finals, said she was ready for next week’s first Grand Slam of the year.

“I’ve already had good matches. I can feel I’m playing better and better. I’m hitting the ball better each match,” she said. “So I think that’s the most important thing to have match rhythm. So, yeah, I think I have had enough and I’m just ready for tomorrow, for my last match before Melbourne.”

In the men’s singles, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller reached his third straight Sydney semi-final with a big-serving straight-sets victory over second seed Pablo Cuevas.

Muller thundered down 17 aces in ousting the Uruguayan 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 and faces two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki in today’s semis.

Troicki, on a 13-match winning streak in Sydney, advanced to the last four when Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew before their match citing a lower-back injury.

Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem went out to British No. 3 Daniel Evans 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just over two hours.

Russian Andrey Kuznetsov overcame Spanish fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 and faces world No. 67 Evans in the other semi-final.

“That’s pretty much the best win of my career,” Evans said of his upset of Thiem. “In the end he didn’t really know how to get it by me.”