Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 AUS OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals are now set at the 2014 Australian Open. I have already previewed the women's semifinals this year. Last year, I predicted 1 of 2 women's semifinals correctly and 2 of 2 men's semifinals correctly.  This year I correctly predicted 1 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

This is the lowest rate of accuracy I have ever had in a major since I started blogging them regularly since 2005 so that tells you something about the unpredictable nature of the results in Melbourne this year. I hope that at least one (if not both) of my predictions are wrong again!

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] vsAndy Murray (GBR) [4] Roger Federer (SUI) [6]  This is the 33rd time the two great champions will face each other, but the real question os how will Federer-Nadal XXXIII be different from Federer-Nadal XXVII, the 2012 Australian Open semifinal played two years ago? Or from Federer-Nadal XXXI and Federer-Nadal XXXII, which were two hard-court matches played last year. It's just not a good match-up between Nadal's lefty forehand hitting to Federer's one-handed righty backhand. That being said, Grigor Dimitrov showed for approximately 3 sets how a one-handed backhander can hold their own against Nadal, so maybe Federer can take inspiration from that. However, the truth is that last time that Federer one won of these meetings was Federer-Nadal XXVIII, which it should be noted was on a very windy hard court in Indian Wells. The point is that Federer will need some assistance to win this match, either from Nadal or from the elements. I'm already surprised that he was able to defend all his points from making the semifinal round here last year, his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal, and it seems almost inconceivable Federer could be playing in his first major final since Wimbledon 2012 (which he won, of course). My heart wants to pick Federer in this match but my head is pretty sure Nadal will be victorious. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal in 4.

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] David Ferrer (ESP) [3]. vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [8] Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2]. For the second time in recent history, there are two Swiss players in the semifinals of a very important tournament. Last year, Wawrinka and Federer were in the semifinals of the year-end championship in London and they both lost (to Djokovic and Nadal, respectively). I think history may repeat itself here, even though Wawrinka played an astonishing match against Djokovic to end the Serb's 3-year grip on the trophy. And even though Wawrinka has a career head-to-head lead of 8-5 against Berdych, including a Wawrinka win in the one major tournament meeting in New York City. On hard courts the Wawrinka is only 5-4 and I just think that Berdych has more experience in major semifinals (1 in every major, for a total of 4) while Wawrinka is playing in his second consecutive major semifinal. Again, my heart wants to root for a Wawrinka win (I'm a sucker for a one-handed backhand since I play that way myself) and I believe his win against the defending champion deserves to be rewarded, but I just have this feeling that Berdych is getting ready to make a breakthrough similar to what Juan Martin del Potro did in 2009. And we know how that turned out! Mad Professah's pick: Berdych in 5.

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