Australian Open 2017: Roger Federer vs Stan Wawrinka semi-final preview
The clash of Switzerland's best tennis players promises to be full of enthralling tennis and ridiculously good shots.
The first semi-final of the 105th Australian Open is going to be an all Swiss affair as world no. 17, Roger Federer takes on world no. 4, Stan Wawrinka. The encounter promises some exciting tennis and will certainly display an array of shots from both the stars.
Let us look at their respective journeys to the semifinal, their records against each other and the overall pre-match analysis.
Road to the semi-final
Federer, who came into the Australian Open after a 6-month hiatus and surprised everyone, including himself, with his performance in Melbourne this year. His rank, which has been his lowest in almost 16 years, ensured that he had to face tough opponents right from the third round. He went past Jürgen Melzer, the home favourite, in 4 sets to start his campaign at the tournament. He faced American Noah Rubin in the round of 64 and dismissed him in three sets.
His third round clash with Tomas Berdych was predicted to be a tough battle. However, the Swiss star played some of his most vintage tennis to decimate the Czech in three ruthless sets. He then got through a five-set grinder with Kei Nishikori in the 4th round and then, defeated Mischa Zverev in straight sets to reach the semi-final.
Wawrinka has this cheeky quality of transforming into a completely different player in the second week of the Grand Slam. The deeper he goes into a competition, the stronger his game gets. His first round match against the Serbia’s Martin Klian was a 5-setter but he had no speedbumps in beating a world class opponent like Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in straight sets in the quarterfinal.
That is the talent that the 31-year-old possesses – an ability to improve and shine when it matters the most. He also defeated Steve Johnson, Viktor Troicki and Andreas Seppi in straight sets in his 2nd, 3rd and 4th round matches. He had a tricky draw, but managed to come through strongly.
Federer looks as good as ever, especially after his masterclass performance against Berdych. He looked rusty against Rubin but seems to have found both his class and his confidence since then. His serve looks good, his one-handed backhand is creating special opportunities and his forehand on the run is better than it ever was in the last 3 years. His returns have improved and has shown more aggression than usual this time around.
Wawrinka, with his thunderous backhand and huge crosscourt forehand, has displayed both style and strength to reach the semifinal. His one-handed backhand is a strong weapon of his arsenal. The biggest armament of the Swiss is that he has this amazing ability to switch off emotionally in a game – he switches to a ruthless mode and is rattled by nothing or no one.
Head to Head
Stats do not tell the whole story, but a head to head record of 18-3 with 5 wins in the last 6 matches do speak in Federer’s favour. Federer has never lost to his compatriot on hard courts and that, too, presents a strong case for him.
The three wins that Wawrinka has managed against the maestro have all been on clay courts – Roland Garros (2015) and Monte Carlo (2009 and 2014). The faster court of the Rod Laver Arena will not give the world no. 4 the spin and bounce of a slow clay court. Federer, on the other hand loves playing on pacey courts and will enjoy this surface.
It does not seem like this all-Swiss clash will go the distance – the winner will most probably end the match in four sets. Whoever looks in better touch right from the start will be the one to book a berth for Sunday’s final.
The tie tilts 70-30 in Federer’s favour, if he manages to do everything that he has done against Wawrinka till now, he is sure to win the match without much qualm.
For Wawrinka to create an impact in the match, it is important for him to start aggressively and to keep Federer on his toes. He must attack from the outset, like he did at the Roland Garros in their 2015 quarterfinal clash. He should make Federer run for his points and mix things up to take control from the outset.
Both the players know their opponent’s game in and out. It would be exciting to see who manages to get the job done at the big stage on the big night!