Everyone still enjoying the tennis?! I sure am. It’s not the tournament I hoped for with the early exit of Djokovic but it is a fresh change nonetheless with the return of Federer and Nadal to grand slam semi-finals.
Federer got there on Tuesday when he defeated Zverev 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 in a masterclass performance while Nadal got there today after defeating third seed Raonic 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4. I wouldn’t call it a masterclass from Nadal because Raonic should have won the second set before choking with a double fault on set point in the second-set tiebreak.
But it was a very good performance nonetheless.
- Federer Continues to Impress Against Zverev
Federer was impeccable against Zverev from the get-go and despite strong attempts from Zverev in the second set to turn things around, Federer kept shutting the door time after time.
I don’t think Zverev’s level dropped at all after upsetting Murray. The quality of opposition was just that much better. It was really up to Murray to stand up to Federer and Nadal when Djokovic lost but he failed miserably.
I thought Zverev put up a brave fight and his game even grew on me more during the match. But Federer came to the court with a very specific gameplan and executed it to perfection. He made things very difficult for Zverev with his low returns and his passes were lethal.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) January 25, 2017
Zverev pushed the envelope in the second set but Federer’s serving, returning, and passing proved to be irresistible. It was sheer brilliance from Federer against a very capable opponent who had a great run.
I must say I am impressed by the way Federer has returned after a six months layoff. The early exit of Djokovic and Murray didn’t hurt but he took full advantage with a very good win over Nishikori and a masterclass over Zverev.
In the other top half quarterfinal, Wawrinka defeated Tsonga 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-3. I didn’t watch but Stan is obviously playing well and when that is the case he becomes awfully hard to stop.
- Nadal Ends Raonic Hopes
The quarterfinal between Nadal and Raonic was always going to be a key encounter in the draw. Before they played, the bookies had Federer as the favorite for the title. After Nadal won, he jumped from the third favorite to the first favorite.
That is because everyone knows about the one-sidedness of the Fedal rivalry by now. If Raonic had won Federer would have been the favorite for the title, but no one really expects him to beat Nadal and Nadal now has the easier semi-final opponent.
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) January 25, 2017
As for the match, Nadal showed some vulnerability in the second set but Raonic failed to take advantage with that double fault at 6-5 in the tiebreak. A visible choke and Nadal was not going to let him off the hook after that.
Nadal will play Dimitrov who defeated Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. It is only Dimitrov’s second grand slam semi-final after making the semis of Wimbledon in 2014. But he has been playing better ever since the end of last year and we will see if he can keep it up.
- Semi-Finals Preview
If Raonic had defeated Nadal I would have thought that Federer is the overwhelming favorite to defeat Wawrinka. Now I am not so certain anymore. The straight-set beatdown of Raonic will give Nadal a lot of confidence and it is very likely he will make the final now.
Dimitrov can’t be underestimated but he has a one-handed backhand that isn’t as solid as Stan’s which Nadal can exploit. Nadal will run Dimitrov ragged drawing him far out of the court and making him hit many balls until he misses.
It’s a similar matchup to when Nadal plays Federer. It is just very difficult for the one-hander to hold their own from the baseline against Nadal unless it is Stan whose backhand is pretty much flawless.
And going into the semi-final with Stan tomorrow, Federer will know in the back of his mind that Nadal is very likely to be waiting in the final if he wins. I’m not saying it will consciously affect Federer but given his history with Nadal at the Australian Open, in particular, it could play on his sub-conscious.
I definitely think he would have felt more relaxed going into the semis knowing that he would get either Raonic or Dimitrov in the final. So whereas I thought Federer was the favorite against Stan before I now give Stan a decent chance.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2017
I think things are now more even psychologically. Stan already has a kind of inferiority complex toward Federer and the crowd will overwhelmingly favor Federer. But he doesn’t fear Nadal the way Federer does having beaten him in the 2014 Australian Open when he won his first slam.
I’m sure Federer wants to make another slam final but does he want to be straight-setted by Nadal in a blowout? After the heart-breaking 2009 final they played again in the semi-finals in 2012 and 2014 where Nadal won in four sets and straight sets respectively.
It’s progressively getting worse for him. The trend just doesn’t look very good for him at all. I’m not saying he can’t beat Nadal and that he won’t beat Wawrinka, but you have to wonder what he is thinking.
Stan would have a great shot at beating Nadal which would keep Federer’s slam record safe. If Nadal wins the Australian Open it means he gets the double career slam and becomes a serious threat to Federer’s GOAT status.
And then you have the French Open coming up. I hope Stan wins because I feel like Nadal getting the double career slam before Djokovic and Federer is a bit of a disaster. Nadal is the most one-dimensional player of the three so it seems illogical to me.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2017
He should at least play someone in the final who can properly test him. That said, we are not there yet and Nadal is not in the final yet. Stan and Federer play tomorrow on courts that have been sped up this year which will favor Federer.
Federer will try to do what he did in the 2015 US Open semi-final when he rushed Stan constantly taking all his time away. He was very effective on that occasion winning in straight sets.
Since then, Stan has won the US Open himself and I think the conditions in Melbourne still suits him a bit better. It won’t be easy for him with the pro-Federer crowd and Federer attacking him relentlessly but he needs to keep a calm head while using his powerful serve and groundstrokes to peg Federer back and keep him from dominating.
It is going to be an interesting match anyway. Can’t wait!!
Wo will win SF #1?
- Federer in 4 (53%, 21 Votes)
- Federer in 3 (18%, 7 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 4 (13%, 5 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 5 (13%, 5 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 3 (3%, 1 Votes)
- Federer in 5 (3%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 40
Who will win SF #2?
- Nadal in 4 (37%, 28 Votes)
- Nadal in 3 (29%, 22 Votes)
- Dimitrov in 5 (18%, 14 Votes)
- Dimitrov in 4 (12%, 9 Votes)
- Nadal in 5 (3%, 2 Votes)
- Dimitrov in 3 (1%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 76