Angelique Kerber said Thursday she feels a responsibility to protect her fellow German Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record from Serena Williams, but admits the job in front of her is formidable.
The 28-year-old powered into her first Grand Slam final by beating Briton Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-2 at the Australian Open, and revealed she received a text from her veteran compatriot after the match.
Seventh seed Kerber this week credited 22-time major winner Graf with giving her the self-belief to put together her career-best season after hitting with the former great early last year.
Asked by a courtside interviewer if she would be seeking Graf’s advice ahead of her showdown with the American world number one, she laughed: “Steffi, write me please!”
Graf must have been watching as Kerber revealed a text landed for her soon after, without revealing what it said.
“I think she wrote me, but I was not able to check it right now. I just saw that,” Kerber said in her post-match press conference.
“I think she sent me a text message, but I don’t know what she wrote me yet. I think she heard what I said on the centre court.”
Kerber is going to need all the help and advice she can get against the imposing Williams who is in her 26th Grand Slam final after sweeping aside fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska with ease.
The win set her up for a tilt at Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, with the American on 21 after winning the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon last year.
Asked if she felt any duty to protect Graf’s record as a fellow German, Kerber said, while smiling: “I think so. I think so. The Germans must be together.”
Despite the huge task facing her, Kerber is taking a crumb of comfort from having beaten Williams once before, at Cincinnati in 2012. The American has won all five other encounters between the pair.
“I think she is going out there to try to win again another Grand Slam, making history. This is her goal,” she said.
“My goal is to maybe win my first Grand Slam. You know, I think she will have respect. I think she will go out there and she knows that she must play also good tennis to beat me.
“I’m feeling good. I’m healthy. I’m fit. I will try to win against her. That’s for sure. I know it will be not easy.”
Schedule of play
Key matches today
(play begins at 0400 GMT; prefix denotes seeding):
ROD LAVER ARENA
Mixed Doubles - Semi-finals
Andreja Klepac (Slovenia)/Treat Huey (Philippines) v Coco Vandeweghe (U.S.)/Horia Tecau (Romania)
Not before 0500 GMT
Women’s Doubles - Final
1-Martina Hingis (Switzerland)/Sania Mirza (India) v 7-Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic)/Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic)
Not before 0830 GMT
Men’s Singles - Semi-finals
13-Milos Raonic (Canada) v 2-Andy Murray (Britain)
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