|#3 Novak Djokovic||#2 Roger Federer|
When #1 Rafael Nadal was knocked out of Australian Open betting action, there were a ton of players that are left standing that breathed a collective sigh of relief. Both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are amongst those that have to think that this is a great opportunity to snare one of the biggest prizes in tennis, but one of them has to go down when the two meet at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday morning in the men’s semifinal.
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Djokovic knows what it is like to win a Grand Slam event, as he did so here in Melbourne Park in 2008. Since that point though, this he had not advanced past the quarterfinals until this season. This is now the fourth semifinal over the course of the last six Grand Slam events for the Serbian, and he is now in some truly fine form heading into the semifinals against Federer. Djokovic has only dropped one set along the way here Down Under, as he was beaten in a tiebreaker by Ivan Dodig. However, since that point, he has absolutely rolled, allowing only one set to go beyond 6-4 in that stretch. Djokovic stormed through No. 14 Nicolas Almagro and No. 6 Tomas Berdych in straight sets, and those two foes only combined to win a total of 15 games between them. The Serb is getting more and more lethal on his serve as this tournament wears on. He had 10 aces against Berdych and 12 against Almagro, and he only has a total of nine double faults in this entire tournament. He also has 27 breaks in five matches, something that is generally unheard of on the men’s side of a hard court Grand Slam event.
And then there is Federer, who really has to believe that this is his time to take down yet another Grand Slam event. He already has four Aussie Opens, a French Open, six Wimbledon titles, and five US Opens, and this would make his 17th Grand Slam title if he were to win it. This is going to be a tough task though, as Djokovic did take the Swiss man out of this tournament in the semis in 2008, and he’ll hope to avoid the same fate again in 2011. Though Federer has had some problems along the way, he absolutely destroyed his countryman, the up and coming Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning, putting him away quickly, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. In that match, Federer actually won a higher percentage of his second service points (76) than his first service points (72), a truly dominating stat. He broke service five times during the match and never dropped a service game. In fact, you are hard pressed to find any blunders that Federer has had on his own serve here in Australia, and if he can keep that up, he won’t be stopped en route to the finale.
However, Djokovic is hot right now, and you know that he is not intimidated. There is a reason that the oddsmakers are giving him a great chance to come out of this one, and though it would clearly be an upset, it certainly isn’t out of the question. Expect an epic match on Rod Laver Arena tonight, but Djokovic will pull it out in the end.
Australian Open Free Pick: Novak Djokovic +180 at BetUS