Australian Open Tennis: Semi-Finals Preview

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The semi-finals are set, and what a line-up we have, with experience and youth competing to make the final weekend.

Men’s Semi-finals

Rafael Nadal [6] v Matteo Berrettini [7]

There are not many (except maybe his loyal fans) who ever thought we would see Rafael Nadal at this stage of a Slam anywhere other than at Roland Garros. The upcoming players have proved their worth on hard courts, and Nadal has had more than his fair share of injuries to contend with.

Even his comeback at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships exhibition was anything but impressive, losing to Andy Murray of the tin hip and Denis Shapovalov.

Add to that a bout of Covid-19 and it was hardly the best preparation for a tilt at history. Yet with all the Djokovic nonsense to content with, Nadal has largely kept his head down and now here he is, and you really would not count him out of being out on Rod Laver Area on Sunday.

However, if the sometimes-wild Shapovalov was able to drag him to five sets, then imagine what a fit, agile Matteo Berrettini can do. The Italian has battled more in his matches than Nadal, but is growing in maturity all the time, and has age on his side.

Nadal’s intensity can waver, and Berrettini works his game around a strong serve and forehand. However, Nadal will look to wear him down by making him constantly defend and be on the run. It puts him as the sight underdog, but you must give him a good chance if he takes an early lead and rather than having to claw his way back from behind, especially against a player like Nadal.

bet365 have Nadal and Berrettini closer matched on a 3-2 result, and for such a big unit Berrettini will come to the net to finish off points, expect a decent match if both bring their A-Game.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas [4] v Medvedev [2]

Talk about very different paths to the semi-finals. Stefanos Tsitsipas’ fourth round battle with Taylor Fritz showed how little preparation he had compared to his contemporaries, with a late operation on his elbow at the end of the year, and really struggling in pain duting the season opener of the ATP Cup.

So to watch his demolition of the talented young Jannik Sinner, who did not play badly by any stretch of the imagination, set down a real marker to the rest of the field.

Compare and contrast highest seed standing, Daniil Medvedev who found himself two sets down to the equally talented Felix Auger Aliassime and had to pull on his reserves and experience to claw himself over the line.

It all sets up a fascinating semi-final where the dogged determination of Medvedev will be pitted against the philosophical  stylings of Tsitsipas on court. 

Medvedev does go into this as the favourite but this might be a little closer than some of the odds might suggest. Tsitsipas can struggle if he doesn’t start quickly off the mark, and really he does need to be the one to strike first. If Medvedev gets his nose in front, it could be a real uphill struggle for the Greek.

Both have struggled, both have the sticking power to go the distance – definitely worth some set betting for momentum shifts.

One of these four men will lift the @AustralianOpen trophy ?
Who will it be? #AusOpen | #AO2022

— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 26, 2022

Women’s Semi-finals

Ashleigh Barty [1] v Madison Keys

World No. 1 and all-round good egg Ashleigh Barty has been a woman on a mission this tournament. She has looked for all the world like she has early dinner reservations and woe betide anyone who gets in her way. In fact, only Amanda Anisimova was able to snap her service game streak.

Madison Keys does know what it is like to make a Slam final, but she really struggled to make the impact on that day against an inspired Sloane Stephens. After languishing a little, she has let go some of her shackles and to be fair, this semi-final for her is like a free hit.

What will be tricky for keys is dealing with the sheer variety that Barty has at her disposal – and right now the Aussie is just loving life. She is playing with absolutely no pressure even though the nation is desperate for a home champion.

Keys has the capability to at least take a set off Barty, and that might be a decent bet, but expect this to continue to be a Barty party.

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Danielle Collins [27] v Iga Swiatek [7]

Danielle Collins won the battle of the drama queens to land a second Australian Open semi-final but after the adversity she has suffered, needing endometriosis surgery last year, few could dismiss her need to fist-pump and holler every point.

Iga Swiatek has really been put through the ringer in her last couple of matches but watching her puzzle her way out of these tricky situation (albeit with a good sob into her towel in relief at the end) shows just how good the WTA have it with these young contenders for the Slams, now that the Serena Williams era seems to be at an end.

Expect Collins to come roaring out of the gate – she is more than capable of rocking Swiatek on her heels and making her come from behind for a third straight match in a row, but Swiatek is just a little steadier – and it will be hard to see past the potential for a Barty v Swiatek final.

The not so secret to @ashbarty's success ?#AusOpen#AO2022

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2022

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