Thursday 26 January 2017

Australian Open 2017 : Which Swiss makes it to the final?

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We are all set to have a very high profile all Swiss semi final, and I am still unsure of how it might pan out. My first reaction when Roger made it past Zverev was that it was a great run, beyond expectations, but it is over; Stan will eat him alive in the semis. So I wasn't going to expect much of the tie, but am just going to enjoy some wonderful tennis. As it all started sinking in though, my views have changed maybe thirty-something times, and now I am not sure what to make of it.

The head to head between these two is more lopsided than it seems from afar. They have faced each other 21 times, and Roger has won 18 times. But more interesting is the fact that all three of Stan's victories have come on clay; which means he has never beaten Roger in any other surface, ever! And 13 of those meetings have been on hard courts. Also to be considered is the fact that Stan is not the player he was pre-2014, where most of his losses against Roger had come. Even if we take the pre-2014 Australian Open matches out of the equation, the results are still pretty baffling. Roger still dominates their matches with a 5-2 head to head. What about grand slam encounters? Well Roger leads that one as well with a 5-1 record, but Stan thrashed Federer in the last encounter in straight sets, en route to his maiden French Open title back in 2015.

If we look at current form, there is not much to choose between the two. They have both played 18 sets, winning 15 of them. They have both looked better with every game they have played. This stat is especially encouraging for Stan, as he gets almost unplayable towards the business ends of tournaments.

I feel it depends a lot on how Roger plays this one more than Stan. Everyone knows Stan has a powerful baseline game. The one thing Federer does very well though is to take away time for a baseliner to unleash in full measure. Federer will take most of his shots inside the baseline, and make sure he doesn't give Stan time to unleash his furious groundstrokes. He will try and come to the net to unsettle Stan's rhythm too. If Roger is able to execute this plan, he will come out of this contest on top for sure. If he becomes defensive, there is no way Stan can be stopped. Serving will also play a huge role today, as one break of serve might be enough to decide the sets.

Here comes the part where I give my prediction and I still don't know what to say. Considering I feel Nadal will come out on top in the other semi final, a Roger vs Rafa final feels too good to be true. As much as I hope it is that case, I have a feeling something will go wrong and we will be denied the dream final. But I have to realistic and Federer seems to have an upper hand in this contest. With vast experience and a perfect game to counter Wawrinka's fearsome groundstrokes, I feel Roger will come out on top of this one in 4 sets, maybe even 3.

PREDICTION : ROGER FEDERER 6-4, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3

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