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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Australian Open Day 12 Picks 2013 (January 25th)

The Woman's Final was set yesterday and we will see Victoria Azarenka get the chance to win back to back Australian Open titles when she faces Na Li.

It was a day full of big stories, the first of those being the way Li completely dismantled Maria Sharapova in possibly her best performance since winning the French Open in 2011. However, that story was put to the back burner thanks to the controversy surrounding Azarenka's win over Sloane Stephens in the second Semi Final.

Most people would know the story- Azarenka choked 5 match points and decided to take a medical time out which lasted 10 minutes. She then came out and subsequently broke Stephen's serve to win the match.

The controversy then started when Azarenka seemed to imply the only reason for her medical time out was because she was 'overwhelmed' and had basically taken the time out to get her emotions in check. Obviously that led to a Twitter blow up, as is the case these days over every major incident in sports, and has irritated many tennis writers around the World.

It is a fact that the medical time out has regularly been used by players to break up play and that is mainly because there is no real consequence to taken one- there was a point when players would go for a 'comfort break' between sets to slow down an opponents momentum, but that has seemingly been replaced by this new method of 'gamesmanship'.

Clearly there are some situations where you need to take a medical time out so it is hard to distinguish between those players who just feel 'overwhelmed' and those who have definite concerns. I heard one commentator say that a good idea would be to use the same rules as they do in boxing.

In boxing, you get one minute between rounds to get your senses- at the end of that minute, you either can get up and continue the fight or you have the choice to quit. That wouldn't be a bad idea for tennis, although the argument does go that spectators could be punished with poor quality matches or players withdrawing with minor issues, especially in smaller events.

This is a real issue for tennis with the bad press Azarenka's decision has made- I really don't know if she was playing the rules or whether something was really wrong, but she is going to be given a lukewarm reaction at best on Saturday in the Final.

After he drama of the Women's Semi Finals, the Men's Semi Final between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer was a real anti-climax that Djokovic won without really breaking a set. It was a dominating performance from the World Number 1 and I think he is rightly the favourite to win the tournament now, especially if the Andy Murray-Roger Federer Semi Final goes the distance on Friday.

Roger Federer v Andy Murray: I have been thinking about this Semi Final for a couple of days since it was set they were going to meet one another and I have decided that it is worth backing Roger Federer to beat Andy Murray in what could be a classic match.

Both of these Men will be supremely confident they can win, but I just feel Federer won't mind the conditions here and I think he can be a little too good for Murray.

The biggest problem for Federer at the moment are those players that can take the racquet out of his hand and I am not sure Murray is going to be aggressive enough for long enough to do so. I know Murray can get to the Federer serve, but the Swiss man will also have success against the Murray serve, particularly if the British player doesn't reach at least 60% first serves.

I think a lot is being made of the Olympic Final win for Murray, but Federer was absolutely exhausted in that match, both physically and mentally, and I think he is going to be fine with a couple of days rest from his five set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I'll be the first to admit that Federer didn't play that well in that match, but Tsonga was playing above expectations too yet it is Federer who has got through to the Semi Final.

This is a ridiculously close Semi Final so taking the underdog does look the call- I can make cases for either player to win the tournament, but I think Federer is a little more battle tested than Murray and that could see him over the line, possibly in 4 sets.

MY PICKS: Roger Federer @ 2.38 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 16-25, - 12.12 Units (74 Units Staked, - 16.4% Yield)

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