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Aussie Open semis set with great matches

By: Allan Blanks

Serena Williams is in a place she's very familiar with, a semifinals of s major championship.

Serena Williams is in a place she’s very familiar with, a semifinals of s major championship.

The semi-finals are set in the Australian Open on both the men’s and women’s side of singles competition.

The headliner: the legendary Serena Williams vs. 19-year-old Madison Keys, two talented Americans. It’s the first time since 2002 two Americans have met in the Semifinals of the Australian open. While Williams looks to continue her title defense, Keys seeks the chance to advance to her first-ever Australian Open finals and another career-defining moment.

We thought and hoped it would be a battle between the Williams sister, but Keys knocked Venus Williams out, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. In this match, Serena Williams is the clear heavy favorite. the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world is an 18-time major champion. Keys, though, is just 19 and unranked with only one career title and no semi-final appearances in a major before this. The highest she has ever been ranked in singles competition is 27, which she reached last summer and has since gone down.

Their is no official head-to-head record between Keys and Williams, but in 2009, when Keys just turned pro at a very young 14, she beats Williams 5-1 at a World TeamTennis match. Obviously, and Keys knows, Williams was not nearly giving anywhere near a full effort after coming off her Wimbledon title, but maybe, just maybe, that was the moment of her young career that sparked her assent to where she is now.

On the other side of the draw for the women, Ekaterina Makarova will battle the 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova. Sharapova, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, has rolled through her competition with some ease and her last three opponents have all bee ranked. She beat N. 31 Zarina Diyas in the third round, 6-1, 6-1. Then No. 21 Pen Shuai, 6-3, 6-0, and No. 7 Genie Bouchard, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Makarova, a fellow Russian and the 11th ranked player, has also breezed through her road, not losing a set yet. In the quarterfinals she upset No. 2 Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-0.

In five meetings against each other, Sharapova has won all but one set. Their last meeting was in the quarterfinals of the Australian open in 2013, which Sharapova won, 6-2, 6-2.

Novak Djokovic has shown why he's the top player in the world, having yet to lose a set in the tournament.

Novak Djokovic has shown why he’s the top player in the world, having yet to lose a set in the tournament.

On the Gentleman’s side, upsets to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have not cost us a good match. No. 6 Andy Murray and No. 7 Tomas Berdych are set to clash while No. 1 Novak Djokovic is set to face-off against No. 4 Stan Wawrinka.

Between Murray and Berdych, their should be a lot of high-quality shot-making and spectacular defense. Berdych leads their head-to-head series 7-4. Neither man has faced truly top oppositions to get here, but both have been pushed.

In the fourth round, Murray beat No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov and was put through a war. He eventually won the match 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5. In the quarterfinals, he beat Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Berdych did upset Nadal in the quarterfinals to get to this point 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7-5). But Nadal has his loss coming as he was struggling through a variety of injuries. it was a stunning upset but Nadal just wasn’t moving with his usual grace.

The star-studded match is Djokovic – Wawrinka; two of the elite tennis players in the world, both capable of winning this title. Djokovic has been pushed his last few matches of the tournament but has shown why he’s the No. 1 player in the world, having not lost a set. Wawrinka lost one set so far in this tournament, and has been pushed a bit more, but is coming off an impressive 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) victory over No. 5 Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals. All-time, Djokovic dominates the series 15-1 but Wawrinka’s one victory came in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open just last year.

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Allan Blanks

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