Tennis: Konta downs Zhang, becomes 1st British woman to reach Grand Slam semis since 1983

Britain's Johanna Konta at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Jan 27, 2016.
Britain's Johanna Konta at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Jan 27, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Johanna Konta ground down Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-1 at the Australian Open on Wednesday (Jan 27) to become the first British woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam in over 30 years.

The 47th-ranked Konta battled nerves and a wayward serve at times but overpowered the 133rd-ranked Zhang from the baseline to wrap up the match in 1hr 23min on a warm, sunny afternoon at the Rod Laver Arena.

After trading service breaks at the start of the second set, Konta roared to a 5-1 lead before sealing the win on the third match point with a lucky net cord that gave Zhang no chance.

The last British woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam was Jo Durie at the 1983 US Open.

Konta will seek to continue her fairy-tale run when she takes on German seventh seed Angelique Kerber for a place in the final.

Kerber had upset two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 earlier.