Serena Williams of the US plays a forehand return during her women's singles semi-final match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Thursday. Picture: AFP PHOTO/SAEED KHAN
Serena Williams of the US plays a forehand return during her women's singles semi-final match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Thursday. Picture: AFP PHOTO/SAEED KHAN

Melbourne — Serena Williams said on Thursday she was trying to block out her chances of equalling Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, not needing the extra stress.

The dominant world No1 surged into her 26th Major final by dismantling Polish fourth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 6-4 at the Australian Open.

A win in Saturday’s decider against Angelique Kerber would see her match Graf’s mark, which has stood since the German great’s last Major win at the French Open in 1999.

But the American is trying to keep it off the radar, saying the pressure she was under when trying to equal Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s 18 titles in 2014 was unbearable and not something she wanted again.

"I definitely block it out," she said of the Graf record. "I was one off last year, too. If I don’t win on Saturday, I’ll still be one off. It took me forever to get to 18. I was so stressed out. I don’t want to relive that at all."

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Williams is assured of being remembered as one of the best players the game has seen.

Kerber ended Konta’s fairytale run with a 7-5 6-2 victory to earn a place in her first Grand Slam final. Kerber, the first German woman to reach the Melbourne title decider in 20 years, subdued the British main draw debutante in 82 minutes.

Konta, Britain’s first women’s semifinalist at the Australian Open in 39 years, recovered from a nervous start to take the match to the seventh seed in a tight first set. Kerber kept her composure, however, and secured a break for 6-5 in the first set, before overwhelming the world No47 in the second.

"It’s a really special moment to reach the finals for the first time," said Kerber. "I was just trying to give everything on court. It’s great for German tennis to reach the final here. I got a lot of messages yesterday."

AFP, Reuters