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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Australian Open Tennis Day 11 Picks 2016 (January 28th)

It was something of a frustrating Day 10 as I was close to getting three out of four picks in the bag, but more disappointing was the exit of Victoria Azarenka, my first outright pick that has gone down.

The whole tournament has been something of a frustration with many surprises which isn't always a good thing, but I am really happy for Johanna Konta who has surpassed all expectations that I had from her game.

I genuinely thought she had a solid enough game to get into the top 32 of the World Rankings and that was something I made clear before Wimbledon last year, but a run to the Semi Final of a Grand Slam was not something I thought was really possible. Konta has had a bit of luck running into a couple of injured opponents and perhaps getting into a Quarter Final against an overmatched opponent, but you can only beat what is in front of you and she needs to be given credit.

No one in the Konta camp will be expecting this run to come to an end just yet and it is all about controlling nerves when she steps out for the Semi Final on Thursday.

Both Women's Semi Finals are played on Day 11 during the day and then the rest of the tournament will be set as 'night session' matches. The first of those is the huge Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer Men's Semi Final and I think both players will be very happy that they have a couple of days to rest after this match before the Final.

The winner will be a strong favourite to take the title home on Sunday, although Andy Murray and Milos Raonic will have plenty to say about that.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: The exit of Victoria Azarenka won't just have been celebrated in Angelique Kerber's camp, but perhaps also in Serena Williams' as the former World Number 1 has arguably been her biggest threat on the Tour. There have been many times Azarenka has pushed Williams far beyond most others can, but Serena won't be overlooking Agnieszka Radwanska.

Williams has said a lot of positive things about Radwanska and was beaten in the Hopman Cup by her in 2015, but main Tour matches have gone in favour of the American 8-0. All but one of those has been very competitive with Serena Williams using her power and big serve to set herself up for a comfortable afternoon more often than not.

Aside from that close match at the Canadian Masters in 2013, Serena Williams would have covered this number of games against Radwanska every time. For all of the movement and variation in the Radwanska game, she is likely going to have to do a lot of chasing as long as Williams comes out a little more accurate than she began the match with Maria Sharapova.

Radwanska has only won the one previous set against Serena Williams and I am finding it hard to see why this match is going to go much differently. The Radwanska serve is a real weakness, especially if she has to throw in too many second serves and I think Serena Williams will eventually wear down her opponent in a 63, 62 win.

Johanna Konta + 4.5 games v Angelique Kerber: As soon as this match was set for the Semi Final, my first feeling was getting anything over three games in favour of Johanna Konta would be a lot of games for Angelique Kerber to cover. I have been surprised by the fact the layers have actually given Konta as many as 4.5 games on the handicap and I do think the British Number 1 will have enough in her game to stay competitive.

Perhaps the layers are looking for Konta to finally show some nerves in this Grand Slam Semi Final, but she has remained mentally strong throughout the tournament. Working on the mental side of things have really helped Konta and she looks like someone who really is taking it a point at a time on the court.

This is the second time she will be coming up a lefty server so Konta should be prepared for what Angelique Kerber will bring to the table. I also think there is a lot more pressure on the latter who has never reached a Grand Slam Final, but has lost two Semi Finals, and must be feeling that this is her best chance of doing that.

Kerber is also coming in off an emotional win over Victoria Azarenka, but if she is serving as effectively as in the Quarter Final she will make it difficult for Konta. The German has to be aware that her forehand will naturally go into Konta's best shot, the backhand, and she will have to return well against a very good Konta serve.

The last four Rounds have seen Kerber really win her matches with room to spare, but I am not sure this will be so easy as she is bound to have some nerves. I do think she might eventually have a little too much for Konta, but the latter is playing well enough on serve and return to cover this number of games.

Novak Djokovic win 3-1 v Roger Federer: I was looking at a couple of other markets for this Semi Final, but ultimately settled on what is the most likely set score between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at this time of their careers.

Novak Djokovic has been a dominant player on the Tour over the last couple of years, but he has dominated in Australia for a lot longer than that. The courts have been speeded up a little this time around, but this match takes place in the night session when they have been a touch slower and Federer has made a note of saying it should favour Djokovic a little more.

I am not sure that is simply gamesmanship and Roger Federer will be looking to play some aggressive tennis to try and put the pressure on Djokovic in this one. He will definitely feel he will have a good chance if he can be a little more clinical when the break points come his way as that cost Federer in the US Open Final, but Djokovic has the returning ability to put plenty of pressure back on his opponent.

That return will eventually wear on Federer who can't get on the front foot when every return is coming at his feet and landing on the baseline. It is that element of the Djokovic game that has proven the difference while he has superior movement these days and the serve is a little under-rated, particularly how good it is under pressure.

Novak Djokovic won both Grand Slam matches between these two in four sets in 2015 and prior to that he was a five set winner at Wimbledon although that was a match in which he blew a big fourth set lead to finish in four too. The slightly quicker conditions in Australia should give Federer a chance to steal a set in this one too, but Novak Djokovic will ultimately be too strong on his favourite court where he has enjoyed the most success and I expect him to move into the Final in four sets.

MY PICKS: Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Johanna Konta + 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic Win 3-1 @ 3.80 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

Australian Open Update: 27-45, - 36.38 Units (139 Units Staked, - 26.17% Yield)

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