Australian Open 2013 – week 2, Wednesday night

So Serena left the tournament last night. She hasn’t had much luck with an ankle injury and her jarred back against Stephens in a match that she was controlling.

Last night looked quite dull on paper before the start but we had drama in 3 of the 4 matches.

 

Edit: Ok I got carried away with the Murray v Federer match! Its actually on Friday morning 🙂

Federer and Murray have met 3 times in Grand Slams. Federer has won all 3 matches and it was only on the Wimbledon grass where he was able to take a set. Everyone knows about the improvements Murray has made to his game over the last 12 months. Most of those improvements were made between his ears. Having lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final he came straight back to the same venue and battered Federer to take Olympic gold. If anyone still doubted that he deserved his place amongst the game’s elite he beat world number 1 Djokovic to take the US Open.

Murray has had a comfortable route to the semi final. He hasn’t lost a set but I feel he needed 1 tough match before playing Federer.

Federer had his tough match in the quarter final when Tsonga kept levelling the match. Federer needed tie breaks to win his first 2 sets in a top quality encounter. That will have sharpened his game for when he steps on court with Murray.

Something in Federer’s favour is that he has played late matches already in this tournament. The conditions are different. The temperature is cooler which slows the court and more importantly the match is played under artificial light. Murray has been practising under the lights but match conditions aren’t quite the same.

Murray starts as favourite at 1.70 and I am going with him to continue to play the big matches well. He has shown he can match Federer mentally. His serve has been more reliable too and I just think he will have enough to win in 4 or 5 sets.

Update: Murray started the better player and broke serve early. He held on for the set.  The 2nd set was tight and settled in Fed’s favour in a tie break.

A single break in the third gave Murray the lead once again and in the 4th Murray came back from a break down to be serving for the match. Federer broke him and then took the set in another tie break. During that 4th set Murray seemed to be losing his mental discipline a little and played a terrible tie break. However in the deciding set Murray broke at the first attempt and a second break gave him a 5-2 lead and he was able to serve it out.

Murray won 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

 

In the other matches Azarenka plays Stephens. Aza starts at 1.12 and I think if the American can serve well she has a chance to give the world number 1 a scare.

Update: Aza had more than a scare in te second set. She struggled to close the match out and took an MTO due to an injury. Stephens broke her twice but just wasn’t able to hold her own serve.

Ararenka won 6-1, 6-4.

 

Li and Sharapova have had a few battles over the years. Sharapova leads the head to heads 8-4 and has won all 3 of their matches in 2012. Li managed just 1 set in those matches and that was on clay. Sharapova started at 1.28 against Venus so for her to have the same SP against Li seems too low.

As this is on a hard court I think 2-0 Sharapova is most likely. Set betting has Shara 2-0 at 1.77 . Under 20.5 games is 1.83 .

Radwanska had a shocker compared to her other 2013 matches and Li still made a lot of errors. Hopefully Li can push the Sharapova price a little higher but an upset is unlikely ( no injury predicted this time!)

Update: Sharapova started the match with 2 double faults and was eventually broken in that game. She managed to hold serve just once in that set. Sharapova was really struggling to find her timing but a huge factor in that was the level that Li was playing at. Li won’t have played many matches better than she played this one. Her aggressive ground strokes were often just too much for Shara. The second set was a little tighter and we ddin’t see a break until the 5th game when Sharapova was the victim. She was broken again in her next service game.

Li won 6-2, 6-2.

 

Djokovic really shouldn’t have many problems with Ferrer. The Spaniard was fortunate that Almagro was injured in their match which allowed him to come back from 2 sets and a break down.

I think Djokovic will be pushing to get the job done quickly to conserve as much energy as possible and I expect straight sets.

Update: A tennis masterclass from Djokovic. He won 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

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