2011 Men’s Australian Open, Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Thursday, January 27, 2011, TV: ESPN2
Number 1 seed Rafael Nadal’s bid for four consecutive major titles came to a screeching halt yesterday when he lost a quarterfinal match in straight sets to fellow Spaniard #7 seed David Ferrer. Nadal was battling an undisclosed injury and/or illness throughout the match and wasn’t close to being his normal dominant self. The semifinals will go on with out Nadal though with two great match-ups between top ten players. Like their counterparts on the women’s side, no Americans are left. Number 2 seed Roger Federer will take on #3 Novak Djokovic in the first semifinal and Ferrer will take on #5 seed Andy Murray in the other. Here is a look at both match-ups. Odds courtesy of bodog.
Novak Djokovic (+200) vs Roger Federer (-275) Appoximate Match Time: 3:30 AM Eastern ESPN2
Novak Djokovic has the unfortunate fate of being arguably the third best player in his generation behind two of the best players in history. The 23 year old Serb has one Grand Slam title, the 2008 Australian Open. Last year he made it to at least the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam event for the first time in his career, and lost in the finals of the U.S. Open to Nadal. He also won 2 tournaments and led Serbia to the Davis Cup title for the first time. Djokovic has won 18 career titles in what is now his 8th year on tour. He was ranked as high as #2 for a large part of last year, but has gone back to his #3 ranking where he has been since 2007. He is 6-13 in his career against Federer but he did beat Federer in the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year in a thrilling 5 set match. During the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic has beaten Marcel Granollers, Ivan Dodig, #29 seed Viktor Troicki, #14 seed Nicolas Almagro, and #6 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Djokovic dropped one set in a tiebreaker to Dodig, but hasn’t lost another. He is converting 75.4% percent of his first serves into winners. He has 39 aces and only 9 double faults.
What can you say about Roger Federer that hasn’t already been said before? The 29 year old from Switzerland has 16 career Grand Slam titles and 67 titles overall. He has been ranked no lower than Number 2 at the end of the year every year since 2006. He is the defending champion here and has won 4 Aussie titles in his brilliant career. He won in Qatar earlier this year, marking 11 straight years he has won at least one ATP event. Now that his arch-nemesis Nadal is out, the pressure is on Federer as the favorite now. In this tournament, Federer has beaten Lukas Lacko, Gilles Simon, Xavier Malisse, Tommy Robredo, and #19 Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarters. Simon extended him to a 5th set and Federer also dropped a set to Robredo. Federer has a first serve won percentage of 76.6%. He has 40 aces and only 4 double faults during the tournament.
Though age might be catching up with the brilliant Federer he is still my pick to beat Djokovic in this match-up.
David Ferrer (+275) vs Andy Murray (-400), Approximate Match Time: 6:00 pm Eastern ESPN2
David Ferrer holds a 3-2 career record over Scotsman Murray. That is a little misleading because all three of Ferrer’s victories have come on clay. Murray is 2-0 on hard courts against Ferrer and hasn’t dropped a set.
Ferrer has 10 career titles including one in Auckland earlier this year. The 28 year old Spaniard is currently ranked #7 in the world but has a career high ranking of #4 in 2008. Ferrer is a much better clay court player, but he can play on the hard courts. He has yet to win a grand slam title and this is only the second time in his career he has even advanced to the semis. In this tournament, Ferrer has beaten Jarkko Nieminen, Michael Russell, Richard Berankis, Milos Raonic, and an injured Nadal on his way to the semifinals. He dropped a set to Nieminen and Raonic, but hasn’t gone to a tiebreaker yet in the tournament. He has a first serve winning percentage of 80% during the tournament. He has 28 aces and 9 double faults.
Murray has 16 career wins. He won twice last year in Shanghai and Canada. He was the runner up to Federer in the Australian Open last year, and made to the semis at Wimbledon. He hasn’t won a grand slam title but he has too much talent not too. The 23 year old Scotsman is currently ranked #5 in the world but Murray reached as high as #2 in 2009. In this tournament Murray has beaten Karol Beck, Illya Marchenko, #32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, #11 Jurgen Melzer, and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals. Murray dropped a set to Dolgopolov in a tie breaker but didn’t lose more than 3 games a set to any other opponent. Murray has a first serve winning percentage of 80.4% in the tournament. He has 50 aces and 12 double faults.
The pick is Murray since he dominates Ferrer on hard courts. If they were playing on clay I would pick Ferrer, but I see a rematch of last year’s final between Federer and Murray.
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