Andy Murray, Johanna Konta advance to Australian Open semis
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA >> In keeping with the way this Australian Open has been going, Andy Murray was asked following a quarterfinal win Wednesday about the state of his game. And then, invariably, about the integrity of his sport.
Murray and a much lesser-known British player, Johanna Konta, advanced to the semifinals Wednesday. Murray beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam for the 18th time. The 24-year-old Konta had a 6-4, 6-1 win over Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai.
It's the first time since the Australian Open in December 1977 that that two British players (John Lloyd and Sue Barker) have advanced to the final four of any major.
Konta is playing in her first Australian Open main draw, after losing in qualifying rounds three years in a row. She had a first-round win over No. 8 Venus Williams and beat No. 21 Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the fourth round.
She has won fans at Melbourne Park with her athleticism and mental composure on the court and good humor and a polite humility in interviews after winning. Born in Australia but living in Britain since her early teens, Konta also has Hungarian citizenship and calls herself a "tri-citizen."
Asked about her parents' reaction back home in Britain, Konta apologized for making them stay up so late.
"I'm pretty sure they have jet lag because of the time difference. They've been staying up all ridiculous times of the morning," Konta said.
Murray is impressed.
"She's done incredible," he said. "Another very comfortable and solid win today. Not easy either. She created that chance by beating the seeds, and she deserves to be where she is."
Konta, the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Jo Durie at the 1983 U.S. Open, will play Angelique Kerber, who beat two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5.
The No. 2-ranked Murray, who has lost four finals at Melbourne Park, will meet Milos Raonic in the semifinals. The 25-year-old Canadian beat Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a night match, continuing his strong form that saw him beat Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round here.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Federer will contest the other semifinal on Friday.
Since Day 1, the Australian Open has been overshadowed by media reports alleging tennis authorities had failed to thoroughly investigate match-fixing.
On Wednesday, Day 10, the governing bodies of tennis announced they will commission an independent review of their anti-corruption unit to restore "public confidence in our sport."
In announcing the review, ATP chairman Chris Kermode said the reports had "caused damage to the sport," which compelled the major stakeholders in tennis — the International Tennis Federation, ATP and WTA tours, and the four Grand Slams — to take quick action to address the issue.
A BBC and Buzzfeed News report which coincided with the start of the Australian Open alleged 16 players — all ranked at some stage in the top 50 — had been flagged for being involved in matches where suspicious betting activity was detected.
Murray was asked about developments to the match-fixing claims, as have many players in the last 10 days.
"Yeah, that's positive," Murray said of the independent review. "Surely. I think in these situations I think people become skeptical when it's sort of kept in-house. So getting someone independent to look into it is positive for sure."
The review will be funded by the Tennis Integrity Board, which oversees the anti-corruption unit set up by the sport in 2008 to combat match-fixing. It will be led by Adam Smith, a London-based lawyer.
Murray and Raonic, who advanced to his second Grand Slam semifinal after losing to Federer in the final four at Wimbledon in 2014, are 3-3 in career meetings.
"I think just the perseverance throughout it, I had a lot of opportunities even in that set I lost," Raonic said of his win over Monfils. "I just said to myself keep making opportunities and hopefully they'll go my way."
Kerber went down a break in the second set before winning five consecutive games and saving five set points before beating Azarenka, her first win in seven matches against the Belarussian.
Six-time champion Serena Williams and No. 4-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska will meet in the other women's semifinal, also on Thursday.
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