Friday is men’s semi-final day at the Australian Open with both matches taking place across the two sessions of action inside the Rod Laver Arena as we find out which two men will compete for the title in the final on Sunday.
We have two standout stars taking to the court in opposite semi-finals and they will be expected to make it through to the final. Two very lively outsiders will be looking to stop that from happening and it will be interesting to see if either can.
Karen Khachanov vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
The opening semi-final of the tournament sees the Russian player Karen Khachanov, who is competing at this stage of a Grand Slam for the second time in succession having reached the last four of the US Open, taking on the number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final.
Tsitsipas has the edge here both in the fact that he has made a Grand Slam final in the past and that this is the fourth time he has reached this stage in Melbourne in the last five years. Where Khachanov will take some comfort is that the Greek has lost his previous three semi-finals here. Khachanov went down in four sets to Casper Ruud at this stage of the US Open but it should be noted that he was disadvantaged by going five sets in the two rounds previous to that. That isn’t the case here as his last two outings have been very comfortable wins and indeed it is Tsitsipas who has spent longer on court although these two were last on court on Tuesday so I don’t expect that to carry much weight. One thing which might is the fact that Tsitsipas leads their career meetings 5-1 and in truth Khachanov hasn’t been close in many of those matches. I hope that doesn’t count for a thing though because those who have followed us from the start of this tournament will be on the Russian at 100/1 having backed him outright at 200/1. I’m sincerely hoping he has the upset in him to set us up for the tennis year in the first event we’ve previewed but it means I don’t need to get involved in this match again.
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Novak Djokovic vs Tommy Paul
The second semi-final comes along in the night session on Friday and it looks like something of a mismatch it has to be said as Novak Djokovic, nine times the winner here and multiple Grand Slam semi-finalist, goes up against Tommy Paul who is at this stage of a Grand Slam for the first time.
These two meet for the first time in their career and you have to think that Djokovic is a very worthy favourite for this match both on the way he has dispatched competent opponents in Andrey Rublev and Alex de Minaur in the last two rounds, sacrificing just 12 games across the two matches. If his hamstring is causing him an issue it isn’t having much impact on his game. Paul has fought off some decent challenges in this tournament but had to go the distance to see off Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and four sets to take care of Roberto Bautista Agut and Ben Shelton. He goes up a few levels on that opposition here and I just don’t see where Paul hurts Djokovic. He can’t take the racquet out of his hand on the serve and he isn’t coming out on top of too many lengthy rallies. Throw in the nerves which Paul is sure to have and this feels like it could be another Djokovic stroll. The American might keep a set tight while Novak figures out his work but in the end I expect the Serbian to pull away. The 10/11 on under 30.5 games looks a good thing to me here.
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