Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Australian Open - Men's Semi-Finals

And then there were four. Most people would have predicted the last four men standing in Melbourne would be the top four seeds Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer. So here we are. Let's take a look at the respective match-ups and try to take advantage of a selection in each encounter.

Djokovic was The Overrule's outright selection before the tournament began at 11/10 and the world number one is now into as short as 4/5. Through the first few rounds Djokovic sailed through until he came up against Stanislas Wawrinka who produced the performance of his career. That match is already a strong contender for match of the year and it will take something truly special to surpass it. Despite Wawrinka's immense performance, Djokovic was still standing in Melbourne, if barely.

The important aspect for me in the aftermath of such a match was how Djokovic would recover, it's something he has managed to become very good at it over the past few years, but he wasn't willing to give away any of his methods or routines in the post-match press conferences. He followed up that five set marathon with a four set win over Tomas Berdych and came out of the blocks fast.

Ferrer can count himself very lucky to be in the last four after being comprehensively outplayed by Nicolas Almagro in the last eight. While Ferrer is always deserving of praise for his ability and willingness to battle for every point in a relentless manner, it's the inner demons that Almagro was fighting off the back of his 0-12 record with Ferrer that stopped him seeing off his Spanish compatriot. Almagro served for the match three times and yet, surprisingly, never held a match point. The first time Almagro served for the match he hadn't been broken all game - we know how the rest of the story unfolded.

Djokovic and Ferrer have met on four occasions in hard court Grand Slams and each time Djokovic has emerged victorious for the loss of only one set. That one set loss occurred at last year's US Open where Djokovic was completely unable to handle the intensely windy conditions and was fortunate to get the chance to come back the next day to recover the situation.

It's hard to see how Ferrer will be able to hurt Djokovic - despite the fact he has beaten him five times over his career - it's a different ball game when it's at Grand Slam level and players are tuned in to the maximum.

The price on a straight sets Djokovic win appeals to me at 5/6 and we'll be placing three points on that selection.

3* Novak Djokovic beat David Ferrer 3-0 @ 5/6 (Boylesports)

After not facing each other at all in 2011, Murray and Federer battled five times last season and this is likely to be the first of a number of more battles during the 2013 season. Murray has a 10-9 lifetime edge over Federer with Federer winning their last meeting at the World Tour Finals in London at the end of last season.

Murray has achieved much success in recent times but one thing he has never done is defeat Federer in a Grand Slam - that will need to change if he wants to leave Melbourne with his second Grand Slam. The Scot has beaten Federer over five sets in winning Olympic gold in London, but it must also be said Federer came in to that gold medal match having played a physically and mentally draining semi-final with Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer made a mockery of what some described as a brutal draw in Melbourne by dispatching his first four opponents in straight sets. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was always likely to prove his first real test and so it proved, as the two played out a five set encounter to determine the last spot in the final four. Murray's passage has been routine to say the least. He has defeated his opponents efficiently and done his best to spend as little time on court as possible ahead of this expected meeting with Federer.

There are a number of ways you can look at their passage to the semi-finals, you can say Federer is battle tested or that he is at a disadvantage coming in off the back of a five setter. And on the other hand it could be said that Murray is completely fresh or that he hasn't been tested enough and might need time to adjust and settle in to the challenge that Federer will pose.

The Overrule is of the view that Federer can more than handle the schedule that has been presented to him (his issue will be a further marathon with Murray going into a potential final with Djokovic) and that Murray should be happy coming in without having to over exert himself. And for those reasons the pricing on Federer appears inflated. I can understand an edge being given to Murray in terms of being the favourite, but not to the extent that he has been priced. Anything over 11/10 on Federer The Overrule will have considered too big, so we are more than happy to take the 11/8 with Paddy Power.

And the added bonus of taking the price on offer with Paddy Power is the concession they have been offering throughout the tournament on men's matches. Should Federer lose in five sets, our stakes will be refunded (up to £100) to us on the pre-match market. The Overrule advises a three point selection on Federer at 11/8.

3* Roger Federer beat Andy Murray @ 11/8 (Paddy Power) (*stakes refunded up to £100 if Federer loses in five sets)


  1. Thats 6 now. 6 titles! And if Nadal is not 100% by the time RG comes around, Nole might have his confidence given another boost if he takes the FO. The steamroll into Wimbly.

    Now cant wait to watch the Davis Cup next weekend. I want Canada and Serbia to win the first round matches. Canada will never have an easier time as they are lucky not to have to face Ferrer and Nadal. Best player is Almagro bur he should never be underestimated.

  2. Hey Rahul, Almagro has actually withdrawn from Davis Cup because of injury, so Canada have a great chance of taking out Spain if Raonic does his job.

    French Open is going to be very interesting in light of Nadal's comeback.