Before I get to tonight’s second Australian Open men’s semifinal, a quick look back at last night. Tomas Berdych came out of the blocks firing, playing much like he did Rafa. The problem for Berdych was Andy Murray wasn’t going away. After trading breaks, Berdych, who led 5-3, took the opening set in a grueling, physical 77 minutes.
At the end of the first, some words may or may not have been exchanged, depending upon who you listen to. Regardless, Murray revved up his game in the second slapping Berdych with a bagel. And once Murray grabbed the break mid-way through the third you could see the match was over. Berdych had a brief spurt in the fourth, but he looked cooked.
After a good first set, Berdych reverted back to norm, as usual. But credit to Murray who played some of his best tennis since that 2013 Wimbledon title. He was aggressive, he was attacking, he was blazing fast and even though his second serve was suspect at times, he came up with some clutch serves when he had to.
With two days off before the final he has to be exceptionally pleased with where his game is at. And if he plays like this in the final he very well might be a 3-time champion come Monday.
But who will he play?
Novak Djokovic v Stan Wawrinka
This one has all the makings of another good ‘ol fashioned slugfest. And why not. The last two times Djokovic and Wawrinka have played at the Australian Open that’s exactly what we got.
Remember 2013 12-10 in the fifth for Djokovic?
Remember 2014 9-7 in the fifth for Stan?
And in between those two marathons they played another five setter at the US Open won by Djokovic. So these two know the deal. They know what they are in for. And both are in groove.
Stan says he’s playing better now than he was a year ago. If he beats Novak I’ll believe him, but that said he did look really, really good against Kei Nishikori the other day. Wawrinka’s been bombing his underrated serve and crushing that lethal backhand of his. And the suspect forehand has held up. The nerves, well…
Djokovic, though, has looked even sharper. He hasn’t lost a set and just gave a lesson to Milos Raonic. He also dismantled Fernando Verdasco and Gilles Muller. But Stan will be a different animal, or Stanimal if you will.
The Swiss has the ability to get Novak moving, and moving off of the baseline, then he hurts him with the backhand, something few players can consistently do. So it’s great matchup. But I think in the end Djokovic wants revenge for last year and he wants this title more. And I just don’t think Stan really feels like he belongs. Then again, maybe Stan comes out without a care and just rips the ball. Even then, the nerves catch uo.
The pick: Djokovic in four
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