Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018 AUS OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview and Predictions

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the 2018 Australian Open. Last year I did not predict the quarterfinals but correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinalsThis year I predicted correctly 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I have also predicted the women's semifinals.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] Marin Cilic (CRO) [6] vs. Kyle Edmund (GBR) Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [3].  This was a very unlikely semifinal matchup (perhaps even more unlikely than the bizarre Tennys Sandgren-Hyeon Chung quarterfinal in the round before. Nadal had only lost one meeting in the six he had played against the 6-foot-5 Croatian. However, this time when he fell behind 2 sets to one, Cilic continued to play hard-hitting, confident tennis, and eventually forced a fifth deciding set against the World #1. It was clear Nadal was not at his best throughout the 4th set and early in the 5th (down 0-2) he pulled the ripcord and retired from the match, giving up his quest for a 2nd Australian Open title. But in some sense this was the lesser surprise result. Who would have thought that the first British player to reach a major semifinal this year would be Kyle Edmund? And he did so by defeating (primarily by outhitting) the World #3 (and last year's semifinalist) Grigor Dimitrov. Edmund and Cilic have only played once before, fairly recently at last year's Shanghai Masters and Cilic won in two relatively tight sets. Edmund has been playing some of his best tennis early in 2018 and is clearly better than his official World #49 ranking, but is he really ready for his first major final? Cilic is playing for his 3rd major final and I suspect he will get there, just so he can get another chance at denying Federer another major title. Mad Professah's pick: Cilic.

Roger Federer (SUI) [2] vs Hyeon Chung (KOR) Novak Djokovic (SRB) [14].  These two have never played each other. Although one would think this would make this result a slam dunk for the 19-time major champion, I seriously doubt it will be. Chung has already out-Djokovic'ed Djokovic and that game is something that has given Federer fits for years. However, I doubt that Chung has yet mastered the intangibles which make Djokovic so dangerous to Federer (winner takes all forehand service return winner down double-match point, anyone?) It's also true that Federer is not playing his best tennis either, but as a 19-time major champion he has figured out many ways to win matches when he is not playing his best and I suspect this will be another exapmle of this.Mad Professah's pick: Federer.

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