Australian Open finals previews as history beckons
History is on the line as finals weekend at the Australian Open comes – and who had this line-up locked in two weeks ago?
Women’s singles final
No-one would have doubted Ashleigh Barty being in the line-up for Saturday’s final, but how many people would have guessed that Danielle Collins would be the one to face her across the net?
The one thing both ladies had in common was the comparative ease with how they got there. Both were clinical, ruthless even.
Barty was able to hit Madison Keys all around the court as at times the American cut a dejected figure, as she was unable to make any kind of inroad into Barty’s slice and dice execution on court.
The first set got away from her rapidly and although Keys made a little bit more of a fight in the second set, it was all too easy for the Aussie, who has the expectations of her entire nation on her shoulders on Saturday.
If the punters wanted more of a match in the second semi-final – they were disappointed as a scarily focused Collins set about dismantling Iga Swiatek in a similar way to the preceding match. The Pole clawed her way back into the first set as Collins’ arm grew a little heavier as she tried to serve out the first set, but by the second set, it was business as usual.
Collins, who underwent endometriosis surgery last year, gave barely a reaction (and if you watch her regularly, you know how big a deal this is) and as she sorted out her racquets, her whole demeanour said ‘one more to go.
And what of that ‘one more to go?’ We have seen Barty get a little nervous at times and (shock, horror) she has been broken. Once.
Collins will not be phased at all about meeting the best player in the world. She has a new appreciation for where she is at, and she will be all about taking it to Barty. Collins’ use of angles really did for Swiatek, and she will need to be prepared to run around as Barty will turn her slices from defence to attack.
She won’t be bothered at all by a pro-Barty crowd, but can she take what will be coming at her from the other end of the court? For Collins to have a chance, she will need to strike first and take that first set, because if she lets Barty get her nose in front, it could be very quickly over.
Men’s singles final
Would anyone have bargained on Rafael Nadal facing Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final at the start of the tournament? We are set for a repeat of the 2019 US Open final where Medvedev looked down and out and then hauled himself back into the final before Nadal closed out the win.
Since then, Medvedev is arguably the best player in the world at the moment, reducing Novak Djokovic to tears in the US Open as he claimed his maiden Slam, and now the lanky Russian is bidding to become the first man in the Open era to win his second Grand Slam title immediately after his first.
Not that Nadal is not on the verge of history himself – something about a 21st Grand Slam?!
Nadal was tested thoroughly in the quarter-final against Denis Shapovalov, but he made Bolognese out of Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, only wavering a little in the third set as Berrettini suddenly picked up the pace.
Medvedev has had some battles this week though. He was driven to distraction by Maxime Cressy and being n Margaret Court Arena, and as for his little outburst in the second set of his semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas? Well, let’s just say a good many people learned the significance of checking out phrases in Urban Dictionary!
The odds have shortened quiet considerably for the 35-year-old Spaniard, but the World No. 2 is still very much the favourite with the tightest odds being on the set-betting.
Medvedev will have to have a near perfect serving day – much like today if we discount his second set paddy. He was rolling through his service games at such speed, that Nadal’s trick to slow everything down could be what messes with the Russian’s head.
He is still very much the favourite to carve out a little bit of history for himself, but honestly, with #21 on the line surely the markets will lend themselves to a little action on Nadal?
Men’s set betting at bet365
Women’s first set winner at bet365