Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 AUS OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals are now set at the 2016 Australian Open. Last year, I correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals2 of 2 women's semifinals2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals. This year, I predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. I have also written a preview of the 2016 Australian Open Women's semifinals.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs  Roger Federer (SUI) [3].  This will be the 45th meeting between these two champions and the two are currently evenly matched at 22-all. However, a more significant feature of their recent rivalry is that in 5-set matches, Djokovic has prevailed three consecutive times (2015 US Open, 2015 Wimbledon and 2014 Wimbledon). Federer-Djokovic XLV is occurring on turf where Djokovic is the most comfortable, since he has won a record 5 Australian Open titles in Melbourne, and he has played in the final here every year since 2011 except for 2014 where he lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. If Federer has lost to Djokovic twice in two consecutive Wimbledon finals where he ostensibly plays his best tennis how can he possibly win on a slow hard court at night in Melbourne where Djokovic has been most successful? Additionally, Federer has lost in the semifinals of Australia the last four times he was here, losing to Djokovic (2011), Nadal (2012 and 2014), and Murray (2013). I'm a huge Federer fan and would love him to win this match with all my heart, but my head says that today is not the day that will happen (and I do think he will win his 18th before he retires). Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic in 5 sets.

Andy Murray (GBR) [2] vs Milos Raonic (CAN) [13].  Interestingly, both semifinal matches are between competitors who have completely even head-to-head records. Raonic and Murray are playing for only the 7th time (although they have been scheduled two other times they have each ceded a walkover to the other player). Raonic is playing in only his second ever major semifinal, while Murray is playing in his 6th major semifinal here (in the last seven years) and the 18th of his career, the most ever for a British male player. Raonic actually has a slight advantage 3-2 in hard-courts but the one time they played at the US Open in 2012 Murray dismissed the Canadian youngster  on his way to winning his very first major. Raonic has definitely improved and I am rather bullish on his chances of (eventually) reaching a major final. However, I just don't think that he has the mobility or fitness to outlast Murray in a 5-set match at this stage of his career. He did incredibly well serving and volleying to upset World #4 Stan Wawrinka in the 4th round but I just don't believe that will be an effective against one of the best service-returners in the game. Mad Professah's pick: Murray in 4 sets.

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