Australian Open semifinal highlighted by more Federer-Djokovic
Day 10 Recap
-In a stunning upset, Angie Kerber finally scored a win over Victoria Azarenka, advancing to the semifinals in the process. Her 6-3, 7-5 victory wasn’t near as straightforward as it appears. A 4-0 start nearly slipped her fingers as Vika finally got going, but Kerber steadied the ship and even broke to finish the set. Then, in her first tough match of the tournament, Azarenka got tight while up not one, but two breaks at 5-2 in the second. Kerber regained her aggressiveness and saved a host of set points, rattling off five games in a row to finish the match. She’ll face Johanna Konta with the winner’s first Grand Slam appearance on the line after Konta ended Zhang Shuai’s Cinderella run.
-Andy Murray overcame some spotty patches of play as well as David Ferrer to win in four sets. He dropped the second set tiebreaker but had started to pull away even before the roof on Rod Laver Arena helped tilt the match in his favor even further. After eliminating Gael Monfils in four sets, Milos Raonic will stand in the way of Murray’s fifth Australian Open final.
Day 11 Predictions
Serena Williams (1) vs Aga Radwanska (4)
Serena, as she does against just about everyone, owns the head-to-head 8-0 versus Aga, the only set that has gone against Serena was the second set of the 2012 Wimbledon final, Radwanska’s only time in a major final. Radwanska will surely draw comparisons to the woman who shocked Williams at the U.S. Open, Roberta Vinci, due to her crafty game that relies on angles and guile as opposed to power. She’ll need Serena’s deadly returning to be out of rhythm in order to have a chance at consistently holding serve. Radwanska is playing some of the best tennis of her career, so hopefully this will be a compelling match. It’s just unlikely to be one that she wins.
Prediction: Williams in 3
Angie Kerber (7) vs Johanna Konta
In the other semi, nerves will likely play a huge factor. Konta got tight trying to close the first set in the quarterfinals and hasn’t been on this stage before. Kerber has, but that might actually be a disadvantage (see: Radwanska since that 2012 Wimby final, or Ana Ivanovic at last year’s French Open) as she seeks her first Slam final. Sometimes knowing the magnitude of the match and the rarity of the opportunity causes a player to lose the fluidity in his/her shots and footwork. The inner game is always compelling, so it’s not an unwelcome factor, but here’s hoping it’s not the deciding one. If Kerber can continue to attack off both wings and not float to the back of the court, she should pull through.
Prediction: Kerber in 3
Novak Djokovic (1) vs Roger Federer (2)
The defining tennis rivalry of 2015 shows no sign of slowing down. The two all-time greats clashed eight times last year, with Djokovic taking the most important ones. This first meeting of 2016 has less intrigue than their Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals due to Federer’s lesser chances of pulling the upset. It’s on Djokovic’s best surface and Federer is no longer blazing through the tour as he was back in the fall. He’s still playing well obviously, but that this match will be played at night makes this a severe uphill climb for the 34 year old. Not only will the court play slower, but heat has been known to factor into the occasional Djokovic defeat. Short of a special serving display, it’s going to be very difficult for Federer to break down the Djokovic defense.
Prediction: Djokovic in 4 to take his first lead in the head-to-head series