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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Australian Open Day 11 Picks 2015 (January 29th)

The final four days of the Australian Open are about to begin with the two women's Semi Finals both taken place on Thursday and the first of the men's Semi Finals taking over the night session.

That also means it is the last of the tennis to be played during the day (night for us in Britain) and the remaining matches will all begin at 8am UK time.

Maria Sharapova - 5.5 games v Ekaterina Makarova: The first Semi Final at the Australian Open is the all-Russian affair between Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova and it will be up to the lesser known player of the two to try and turn around the head to head between these players. Sharapova has won all 5 previous meetings between herself and Makarova including two one-sided wins at the Australian Open.

However, it has to be said that the last of those wins came here in January 2013 and both of those victories were in the Quarter Final- those were also the first time that Makarova had played Quarter Finals in Grand Slam events as a Singles player and nerves could rightly have played a part in the results.

Since then, Makarova has reached two more Quarter Finals at Slam events, while breaking through the barrier by making it to the US Open Semi Final last September and I expect that to help her in this one. On the other hand, she is going up a fierce competitor in Maria Sharapova who is playing very well to open the 2015 season and I think she will still hold the mental edge in the match.

Makarova will have to serve well if she is going to give Sharapova all she can handle, but I do think she is potentially the more nervous of the two players. The problem I see for Makarova is that she can get a little down on herself when things are not going right and that showed in her heavy defeats at the Slam events last season.

Sharapova looks a player that won't give up when it isn't quite going the way she anticipated and I think the more experienced player comes through after taking a tough first set. This has the feel of a 64, 62 kind of win for Sharapova and I like her to cover the games.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Madison Keys: Serena Williams seemed to be suffering from a pretty strong cold in her interview after a dominating win over Dominika Cibulkova on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see if she has recovered from that or perhaps gotten worse.

On the other hand, Madison Keys overcame a problem with her left thigh in the middle of her match against Venus Williams and recovered two breaks of serve in the final set to come through against the older Williams sister. Now how Keys has recovered from that problem in the twenty-four hours she has had will be another important factor that can be tough to determine.

You have to feel there is added motivation for Serena Williams knowing that Venus was beaten by this opponent in the last Round. I have not got any conclusive evidence that she raises her game in this circumstance, but even reaching the level of her win over Cibulkova will make Serena Williams a strong favourite to overcome Madison Keys in this one.

Both players will look to dominate behind heavy first serves, but I think the movement and any limitations that Keys has will also play a part in the match. If she can't get the same pop on serve, Serena will get a chance to play first strike tennis which may enable her to dictate the tempo of the match.

I have a lot of time for what Keys can achieve, especially with the experience of Lindsey Davenport in her corner, but I don't believe the future will begin today and it will be the two veterans of the WTA Tour competing in the Final on Saturday. This feels another match that could potentially be tight in the first set and then dominated by the more experienced player in the second set as Serena Williams goes through 64, 62.

Andy Murray win 3-1 v Tomas Berdych: This match has a couple of fascinating angles that brings added intrigue, if that is possible, to a Grand Slam Semi Final.

Tomas Berdych has been in great form and dismissed the challenge of Rafael Nadal without too many problems, which was a surprise considering he had lost 17 in a row to the Spaniard prior to the Quarter Final.

He also has Daniel Vallverdu in his box, a man that was a part of Andy Murray's team up until the end of the 2014 season and who has been described as knowing Murray's game better than anyone else by the Brit himself.

Vallverdu will know the weaknesses Murray brings to the court, but I think Murray will benefit from knowing exactly what is thought of Tomas Berdych, even if he hasn't faced the Czech player since August 2013. That is surprising considering these two players are amongst the best on the ATP Tour, while it is Berdych who has won 6 of the 10 previous matches including the last 2 in a row.

That last win came on the hard courts of Cincinnati, which snapped a 3 match winning run for Murray on the hard courts against Berdych, but was also just six weeks after Murray had won Wimbledon and taken a huge burden off of his shoulders. Murray has been playing well enough here in Australia to show he is back to being a threat to win a Grand Slam title, although he is yet to have really been tested to the point that Berdcyh will.

Grigor Dimitrov wasn't playing as well as Berdych is when he lost to Murray in four sets, but I do think the British Number 1 is also playing at a very high level. I expect him to better at getting a length on the return of serves than Nadal was and Murray has also been serving fairly effectively for much of the tournament.

With the Berdych game working as well as it is, I would be surprised if this is a straight sets match, even if I did say the same about the Kei Nishikori-Stan Wawrinka Quarter Final match on Wednesday. I expect a lot of quality tennis to be on display, but with Andy Murray getting through to his fourth Final in Australia.

MY PICKS: Maria Sharapova - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray win 3-1 @ 4.33 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Australian Open Update: 32-21, + 21.13 Units (101 Units Staked, + 20.92 % Yield)

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