Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal did their parts Tuesday at the Australian Open. Federer scorched Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to his 30th career Grand Slam semifinal.
Nadal’s path was much tougher and much more physical. Late into the Melbourne night, Nadal finally fended off Tomas Berdych in 4-hours, 16-minutes, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The results set up the match we’ve all been waiting for: Federer v. Nadal, this time in the semifinals.
Before I get to that match, there’s unfinished business in the men’s quarterfinals. Tonight, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray need to win to set up their own super semi showdown Friday evening and complete the Fab Four’s second straight Slam semifinal appearance.
And looking at the opponents it’s difficult to fathom it won’t happen.
Murray is on first against Cinderella Kei Nishikori. The 22-year-old Nishikori is a capable, tough, feisty player, but after a lot of tennis to reach the quarterfinals including a 5-set win over JW Tsonga, I don’t think he’ll have enough to beat Murray. The Scot also beat Nishikori easily in Shanghai last fall and he’s just been playing with so much confidence and focus, so I expect the same here.
In the past Murray may have eased up in this situation but new coach Ivan Lendl won’t have any of Murray taking a few points off, not in this one.
Speaking of taking points off, David Ferrer is not prone to that nonsense. And that’s what makes Ferrer so great. Tonight, though, the Spaniard will have to do much more than fish to beat defending champion Novak Djokovic. The Serb has been strong all week and even though he lost to Ferrer in a poor effort at London, he shouldn’t have too much problem with David this evening.
Djokovic seems so comfortable, so at ease on the Rod Laver court it’s downright scary. There simply are no weaknesses in his game right now – if there is please comment below! Ferrer I think we’ll keep it close but without any real weapons David can rely on, it’s Djokovic in straight sets.
On the women’s side, with Caroline Wozniacki mercifully out of the tournament – you can credit the gutsy Kim Clijsters for that – we are guaranteed a new No. 1 on Monday. And it’s about time.
Former champion Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova are the heavy favorites today and for good reason. Kvitova shouldn’t have much problem with Italian Sara Errani while Sharapova struggles but prevails over the upset-minded lefty Ekatarina Makarova.
If Maria and Petra do win I think their semifinal on Thursday will decide the 2012 Australian Open champion and the No. 1 ranking that will go with it.
Matches kick off on the Tennis Channel in about 15 minutes.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Sara Errani (ITA) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Not Before:12:30 PM
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before:2:30 PM
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Kei Nishikori (JPN)
Rod Laver Arena 7:30 PM Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. David Ferrer (ESP)
Sania Mirza (IND) v. Liezel Huber (USA)
Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) Colin Fleming (GBR)
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Novak Djokovic Increases No. 1 Lead Over Roger Federer In 2012 ATP Points Race
Novak Djokovic Now Leads The 2014 ATP Rankings
Rafael Nadal Is The First Player To Qualify For The London Finals, Leads Djokovic In 2013 By 2K Ranking Points