By Laura Amato
Angelique Kerber is making a statement.
The world No. 2 cruised to a semifinal berth in the US Open Tuesday, defeating Roberta Vinci in straight sets (7-5, 6-0) at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It was a major moment for Kerber—who came up just short of Olympic gold in Rio last month—and one that has her certain she can beat anyone she squares off against.
“I’m not thinking about quarters, semis, or whatever. I’m just going there to playing a good match and to win the match,” 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 wasn’t a perfect start for Kerber, who trailed three times in the first set before finding a rhythm down the stretch and seizing complete control in the second. The 28-year-old recorded just three unforced errors in the second set.
“I talked to myself, OK, stay positive. Think about the good things you did in the first set,” Kerber said of her approach midway through the match. “And that’s it. After I won the first set I was more relaxed at the end. I think in the second set, what I did good was that I played the first few games really tough so that I was up 3-0 very fast. Then I could continue my good play in the next few games.”
The last time Kerber reached this stage of the US Open was in 2011—when she was ranked 92 in the world. Since then, she’s faced her fair share of highs and lows on the court, but her recent string of success—highlighted with a victory over Serena Williams in the Austrlian Open—has Kerber thinking big.
She’s got her sights set on a title and she’s playing like she’s ready to win.
“It’s one of my best years now, so that’s why my belief in myself is growing for sure,” Kerber said. “That’s why I think I’m playing like I’m playing right now, that I’m really going for it with a lot of belief in my game and myself. Yeah, it’s changed a lot in the last few months.”
Kerber added that she feels as if she’s grown leaps and bounds since she was a 23-year-old upstart making a name for herself in Flushing Meadows. She’s evolved her game since then—several times—and doesn’t find herself blinking quite as much when she steps into the Grand Slam spotlight.
In fact, she even enjoys it a bit.
“I’m a completely different player, I think. I’m going out, I have a lot of confidence,” Kerber said. “I know how to win big matches. I know how it feels playing on the stadium. I’m also enjoying it more than years ago.”
Kerber will square off against Caroline Wozniacki, who is riding her own recent string of success, in the semifinals Thursday and while it won’t be an easy match, she’s anxious to get back on the court.
“I’m looking forward to take the chance again with her to play and to take the challenge,” she said. “It’s the semis, so it doesn’t matter who I’m playing against. It will be a tough one. I’m looking forward to it if it’s Caroline.”