2015 Australian Open men's semifinals preview: Another Djokovic-Murray title match in the offing?
We have seen some epic matches in the men’s draw over the past 10 days at the Australian Open. There have been some incredible comebacks from 2 sets down by the likes of Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios. Roger Federer’s early exit was the talking point of the first week. Tomas Berdych beat Rafael Nadal for the first time since October 2006 in a match that shocked many fans across the world.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych are the four men still in contention for the Australian Open title, and the semifinal match-ups promise to be electrifying.
Note: You can watch both the semifinal matches live on Sony Liv Sports here.
Semifinal 1: Andy Murray vs Tomas Berdych
No one would have expected this semifinal match-up given the fact that both Federer and Nadal were in the same half of the draw. Berdych has played incredible tennis in the tournament; he destroyed Nadal 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (6) and arrested a 17-match losing streak against the Spaniard. The No. 7 seed hasn’t dropped a set so far and has looked extremely good on serve.
But Murray hasn’t looked bad either. The Brit has dropped just one set – against Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. He beat local favorite Kyrgios in straight sets and looks set to go all the way in Melbourne this year.
Berdych leads 6-4 in the head-to-head rivalry over Murray, and they have split their two meetings in Grand Slams. One can expect a lot of rallies with occasional forays to the net in this match. Berdych will again rely on his big first serve to bail him out of difficult situations, while Murray will look to be more aggressive to gain the initiative in the contest.
The Czech has hit 221 winners and just 125 unforced errors in 15 sets so far. Murray will have to get more points off his first serve as his second serve isn’t the greatest in the world and Berdych will be waiting to pounce on it.
Berdych’s new coach Daniel Vallverdu has worked with Murray in the past and will pass on some information to his protege for the crucial match, but will that be enough to stop the Scot from reaching his fourth Melbourne final in six years?
Match Time: 2 pm IST.
Prediction: Tomas Berdych in four sets.
Semifinal 2: Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka
Australian Open fans will get to witness a Djokovic-Wawrinka clash for the third year in a row. Their last two meetings at Melbourne Park have been epic matches and there is no reason why Friday’s match will not live up to those levels.
If you cut back to last year, Djokovic was the three-time defending champion and Wawrinka was looking for his first Grand Slam title. This year around, Wawrinka is the defending champion and Djokovic is looking to add another Australian Open title to his Grand Slam tally.
The World No. 1 leads the head-to-head 16-3 and demolished Wawrinka 6-3, 6-0 in their last meeting at the ATP World Tour finals last year. Djokovic has won 70 of his 71 service games in the tournament so far and took out big serving Milos Raonic in straight sets in the quarterfinals.
Wawrinka’s serve isn’t as lethal as the Canadian’s, but the Swiss can surprise Djokovic with his variations. The Swiss was ruthless in his quarterfinal win over No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori, but the Japanese was the first seeded player Wawrinka played in the tournament. The No. 3 seed dropped one set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and fought back from 2-5 down in the fourth set tiebreak.
Djokovic has been miserly as far as the unforced errors are concerned. Wawrinka on the other hand is prone to committing several unforced errors when pushed against the wall. The Swiss will have to make Djokovic work hard on his service games and try to keep the points short. The No. 1 seed has a clear edge when it comes to winning points in long drawn rallies.
It will be a shot-making feast for fans at Rod Laver Arena and all around the world.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in straight sets.