Kerber keyed up for a shot at Doha crown

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Going strong: Kerber has won 16 of her 20 matches this year.

Angelique Kerber is not concerned by the long hours she’s already spent on court this season and says she’s ready to take on Simona Halep in the Qatar Open final.

Kerber put in a strong performance to take out Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 7-6 (6) in the semi-finals on Saturday, before Halep came back from 2-5 down in her opening set against Agnieszka Radwanska, to beat the No2 seed 7-5, 6-2.

“I enjoy the feeling right now to be in the final,” said the sixth-seeded Kerber. “It’s my first time here in the final, and I will play my best tennis tomorrow and will try to give everything, try to play on the high level.”

It’s six weeks into the season and Kerber is already competing in her sixth event (including Fed Cup) and has won 16 of her 20 matches in 2014.

“That’s why I have a physio with me,” said Kerber. “I think the physio will have a lot of work tonight. But I’m feeling good and I had a great preseason, so I think everything is healthy, everything is good.”

Kerber had a thunderous start, breaking twice to lead 4-0, finding her shots early on and taking Jankovic by surprise.

The fifth-seeded Serb got one of the breaks back when Kerber double-faulted on break point, but after a lengthy sixth game which saw seven deuces, the German broke on her fourth break chance, wrong-footing Jankovic with a down the line forehand winner, to lead 5-1. And Kerber served out the set comfortably, taking a one-set lead with a service winner.

It looked like the second set was going to follow a similar pattern when Kerber broke in the third game but Jankovic broke back immediately to level for 2-2.

A marathon sixth and seventh game proved crucial in that second set with both players saving numerous break points on their serve, but it was Kerber who triumphed in the best point of the week so far, running from one side of the court to the other before pulling off an impossible backhand winner to break for a 4-3 lead.

“I think those games were very important,” Kerber said. “I think mentally the match was very tough.”

Serving for the match at 5-4, Kerber was broken and as the match went to a tiebreak, it was Jankovic who was leading 4-2 at the change of ends.

But Kerber retaliated and the net cord came to her aid, giving her awinner on her second match point to reach the final.

Later on centre court, Halep won seven games in a row late in the first set and early in the second, to improve her record against Radwanska to 2-3 head-to-head.

The 22-year-old Romanian, who won all of her six titles last season, is through to her 10th WTA final.

“I started very aggressive, I wanted to hit all the balls and she’s a very smart player. But then I wanted to change something because I knew that like that it’s not possible to win,” said Halep.

On her part, Radwanska said her serve failed her last night: “I’m disappointed, especially after that first set, 5-2 up. It’s a set I should have won.

“She was playing really good tennis today. Everything was working for her. I didn’t serve good enough, that was the problem.”

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