Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AUSSIE OPEN 2010: Men's Semifinals Preview

I predicted the results of 3 of the 4 the men's quarterfinals correctly but only 1 of 4 of the women's quarterfinals correctly. I have already written my women's semifinals preview. Here is my preview of the men's semfinals in the 2010 Australian Open:

Roger Federer SUI (1) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (10). For the twenty-third consecutive time, Roger Federer is in a major grand slam semifinal. Let me say that again. 23 times in a row. That is nearly 6 years of every slam. The next closest total is Ivan Lendl with 10. Federer has also been in the last 17 of 18 major finals (winning 11); his only slip-up was two years ago here in Melbourne, to Novak Djokovic, who ended up winning the tournament against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2008 final. Tsonga got his revenge last night by beating the Serbian , a result which I welcome but did not expect or predict. "Jo-Willie" really seems to enjoy the big lights and enthusiastic crowd down in Australia and they bring out the best tennis in the charismatic, hard-hitting Frenchman. Just to get to this point, Tsonga has had to win two tough 5-set matches (his first ever!), most particularly the 4th Round thriller against Nicolas Almagro where he had to recover from "being two sets to none up" (as Mary Carillo quipped earlier this week) and ended up winning the match 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-7(6) 9-7. Against Djokovic, the Frenchman played two very close sets and only ended up winning one of them and then went "on walkabout" during the third set before Djokovic's physical ailments seem to weigh down the Serb's game more and more until it finally collapsed completely in a 7-6(8) 6-7(5) 1-6 6-3 6-1 loss.

The match-up between Federer and Tsonga is an interesting (and exciting) one. They have only played twice (in the last two years), both times on hard courts and the score is tied 1-1. I well remember their meeting at the ATP Masters Series during the Montreal massacre last year because Tsonga lost 10 games in a row and was down 5-1 in the third set before coming back to win in a decisive tie-breaker. Federer showed with his tight 2-6 6-3 6-0 7-5 dismissal of a more energized Nikolay Davydenko for the 13th time in 15 matches that he does not like to lose to the same person in consecutive matches. I personally will be happy with whomever wins this match, there's no one left in the tournament that would annoy me if they claimed the title.
MadProfessah's pick: Federer in 4 sets OR Tsonga in 5 sets.

Marin Cilic CRO (14) vs. Andy Murray GBR (5).This is Andy Murray's year. Unless it's not. On paper, the Scotsman sports head-to-head advantages over all of the remaining semifinalists (6-4 against Federer, 2-1 against Tsonga and 3-1 against his semifinal opponent, Marin Cilic) and should be the favorite for the 2010 Australian Open men's title. He was in the process of imposing his will on the defending champion Rafael Nadal before the Spaniard said ¡No Más! trailing 6-3 7-6(2) 3-0. Murray is yet to drop a set in the tournament, the only player on either side of the draw to do so. Cilic on the other hand last beat Murray the last time they played, in New York, handily 7-5 6-2 6-2. However, here in Melbourne Cilic has played three 5 set matches and a 4-set match to reach his first major semifinal, but the quality of his opponents has been substantially higher than Murray's: 2009 defending US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro, 2009 Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick and the always wily Fabrice Santoro in the first round. That being said, I think that Murray has both the game and the will to win this match and one more. MadProfessah's pick: Murray in 4 sets.

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