Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reigning, former Bank of the West champs to meet

Johanna Konta, playing in the U.S. Open last
August, will face Serena Williams for the first
time in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Serena Williams and Johanna Konta, who have combined to win four of the last six singles titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, will meet in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
   Williams, the No. 2 seed who grew up in Compton in the Los Angeles area, beat No. 15 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4 today in Melbourne.
   No. 9 Konta, a Sydney native who became a British citizen in 2012, defeated Ekaterina Makarova, a Russian seeded No. 30, in the fourth round for the second consecutive year, 6-1, 6-4. Last year, Konta prevailed 8-6 in the third set.
   Williams won the Bank of the West Classic in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Konta captured her first WTA Tour title in last year's tournament, defeating Venus Williams.
   Serena Williams, 35, and Konta, 25, will meet for the first time.
   Williams seeks her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which would break a tie with Steffi Graf for the record in the Open Era (since 1968). Margaret Court holds the all-time mark of 24. Six of Williams' crowns have come in the Australian Open.
   Konta will try to reach her second straight Australian Open semifinal. She has never played in a major final.
   Including last week's Sydney title, Konta has won nine consecutive matches and 18 straight sets.
   Meanwhile, identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford 2011-13) and San Jose resident Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones, Cal 2001-04) reached the men's and women's doubles quarterfinals, respectively.
   The 38-year-old Bryans, seeded No. 3, have won six Australian Open titles. They beat unseeded Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn., and Nikova Mektic of Croatia 6-3, 7-6 (11).
   The 11th-seeded Atawo, 34, and Xu Yifan of China crushed Liang Chen and Yang Zhaoxuan of China 6-2, 6-0.
   Atawo and Xu will take on No. 2 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic. Mattek-Sands and Safarova have won three Grand Slam women's doubles titles, including the 2015 Australian Open.

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