Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 AUS OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals are now set at the 2017 Australian Open. Last year, I predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. This year I was unable to predict the quarterfinals due to my vacation travel but I am excited to continue my practice of predicting the results of the latter stages of Grand Slams. I have already written a blog post predicting the women's semifinals.

Roger Federer (SUI) [17] vs Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [4]. After not playing a match for more than six months due to a freak injury very few people expected Roger Federer to be able to defend his semifinal ranking points from the 2016 Australian Open. The 17-time major champion is playing in his 41st major semifinal and he is facing his countryman Stan Wawrinka, who is now a 3-time major champion himself and the reigning U.S. Open champion. Although Federer's now the lower ranked of the two Swiss players, he does have an overwhelming 18-3 head-to-head (only 5-2 since Wawrinka won his first major at the 2014 Australian Open) and has never lost to Stan on a hard court. Federer fans like myself are starting to get excited again now that the Greatest of all time is (again) a mere 6 sets from finally winning his 18th major singles title. However, since his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal is still in the tournament there is no guarantee that even seizing this opportunity will be enough to make it happen. I am not one of the millions of tennis fans hoping for another #Fedal final, but I do want to see the GOAT play his record 28th (17-10 record).  Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 4 sets.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [9] Milos Raonic (CAN) [3] vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [15].  When the draw came out this was expected to be a blockbuster semifinal between the new World #3 and the defending champion. However, quite surprisingly neither of htem made it this far, with Djokovic losing to Denis Istomin in the 2nd round and Raonic losing to former champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Dimitrov is having something of a career resurgence, and is currently on a 10-match wining streak in 2017, having won the Brisbane warm-up tournament by slicing through the highly ranked field like a deadly scythe (he defeated three Top 10 players on the way ti winning that title: Dominic Thiem, Raonic and Kei Nishikori). Nadal has surprised many of his naysayers by reaching this far in the tournament, especially a hard court major. This is probably the best match-up hat the Spaniard could have hoped for, since he has a commanding 7-1 career head-to-head lead over Dimitrov, including a tough quarterfinal win at the 2014 Australian Open on his way to reaching the final in Melbourne that year. Will history repeat itself so that Nadal beats Dimitrov on the way to reaching the final (where he suffered a shock loss to Wawrinka). I'm not so sure, I was very impressed with the way that Dimitrov dismissed David Goffin in straight sets to reach his second major semifinal. Then again, Nadal is playing in his twenty-fourth. What will win out, age and experience or youth and desire? Mad Professah's pick: Dimitrov in 5 sets.

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