The 2009 AO champion Rafael Nadal recorded a 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over the no. 3 seed Milos Raonic of Canada and stayed on course for a showdown in the finals against his rival Roger Federer of Switzerland and also to become the first player in the Open Era to complete the career slam twice. Nadal who had lost to Raonic in the warm up event in Brisbane prior to the Open saved six set points in the second set tie-break to win in two hours and forty four minutes on the Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal, a fourteen time winner of majors, including a record nine French Open titles, two each at both Wimbledon and U.S. Open apart from the one in Melbourne eight years ago, in a five set final match, broke serve in the seventh game of the first set and then in the last game of the match against the big serving Canadian who registered 14 aces. Raonic failed to convert on four break point chances in the whole match. The Spaniard saved three set points in the tenth game of the second set and also saved three more in the tie-break trailing 3-6. Raonic squandered the tie-break making three tame errors leading 7-6 in the tie-break.
The now resurgent Dmitrov, seeded 15th, nicknamed Baby Federer because of his style of play, won with surprising ease against the 11th seeded David Goffin of Belgium. Dmitrov broke serve six times in the two hour twelve minute encounter, while Goffin could break serve only twice in the match. Dmitrov won 106 points, while Goffin who was playing in only his second grand slam quarter final, having played in the last eight in Roland Garros last year, won only 84 points in the entire match.
The 25 year Bulgarian was a semi finalist at Wimbledon 2014 and in reaching the final four he surpassed his best result at Flinder’s Park three years ago. That time he lost to Nadal and on Friday the two will lock horns in the last four, while in an all Swiss semi final, four time champion Roger Federer, seeded 17th, takes on his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded fourth and winner in 2014.
The following then is the semi final line up with my pick mentioned first:-
Roger Federer (17) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (4); Federer leads 18-3
Rafael Nadal (9) v. Grigor Dmitrov (15); tied 1-1
Wawrinka’s three wins against Federer were at the Monte Carlo ATP 1000, his only Master’s title, and then at the French Open 2015, while his first win over Federer was also in Monte Carlo on clay.
In the ladies section of the draw, there seems to be no stopping Serena Williams, the second seeded American, who beat the Briton Johanna Konta 6-2, 6-3 to stay on course for a 23rd grand slam title and a possible final confrontation against her elder sibling Venus Williams. The 34 year old Croat, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni upset the fifth seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-4,3-6,6-4 in one hour and forty seven minutes.
Following is the line up of the women’s singles final, with my pick mentioned first:
Serena Williams (2) v. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (-); Serena leads 2-0
Venus Williams (13) v. Coco Vandeweghe; Venus leads 1-0
Interestingly Serena played the Croat twice in 1998 and it will be their first meeting since then. Venus beat the 25 year old fellow American in Rome 2016 in their only career meeting in straight sets. While Serena has 22 major titles the elder sibling Venus has seven majors in her career.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]