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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Australian Open Tennis Day 12 Picks 2016 (January 29th)

The final three days of the Australian Open will see one Singles match per day with the second of the Men's Semi Finals set for Friday before the Women's Final on Saturday and the Men's Final on Sunday.

All of the matches are set for the cooler night conditions which do take some of the pace out of the courts, but there should still be three fun matches for the fans to enjoy.

The Women's Final was set between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber as both won their matches in straight sets on Thursday.

Serena Williams was very dominant against Agnieszka Radwanska even if she hit a bit of a slump in the second set when up a break in that one. Playing someone who retrieves the ball as well as Radwanska will set up Williams for her match with Kerber, although the latter does have a little more behind her groundstrokes that will give the World Number 1 something different to look at.

Angelique Kerber handled her nerves well to beat Johanna Konta after a tight first set and she was a deserved Finalist from the bottom half of the draw. The German has flattered to deceive in recent years but finally put it all together to take advantage of a section that saw most of the Seeds beaten early, although Kerber's win over Victoria Azarenka was the kind of win that deserved to see her book through to the Final.

You have to give credit to Johanna Konta for the tournament she has had and I would be surprised if anyone was critical of the British Number 1 who has also moved inside the top 30 of the World Rankings. With little points to defend in the coming months, I can see Konta pushing on inside the top 20 of the World Rankings with a couple more strong tournaments especially with direct entry into the biggest Premier Events heading through to the French Open.

A Seeded Women's player at Wimbledon will really be a big deal for the home fans at Wimbledon who have been used to simply focusing on Andy Murray for the most part of that two week event. All it will take is a couple of wins at each of the Premier Events coming up in the coming months and Konta will certainly be in line to achieve that which justifies all the belief her supporters will have had in her game.

Novak Djokovic became the first Men's Finalist after a near perfect performance in dispatching Roger Federer in four sets. It took a monumental effort from Federer to even take a set in this match having won just three games in the first two sets and Bernard Tomic's comments about the gap between Djokovic and Federer were underlined in this one.

I will say the opening few months of the Tour favour Djokovic more than Federer (outside Dubai) and so the win for the World Number 1 wasn't a big surprise, especially in the night session where the courts suit him even more in Australia. It is going to take something special to stop Djokovic winning his fourth Grand Slam in five played and I think a lot of people will consider him the favourite to win all four Slams in 2016.

The Calendar Slam would be a huge achievement in Men's tennis, but if Djokovic also adds the Singles Gold Medal at the Olympics and I think it might be the greatest achievement in the sport.

Can he do that? It is a possibility but I think Djokovic will have to get through a couple of really big matches and stay healthy and neither is guaranteed. He was close to an exit here against Gilles Simon and he was close to an exit against Kevin Anderson last year at Wimbledon, while someone like Stan Wawrinka is capable of being one of the few players to take the racquet out of Djokovic's hands when he is playing his best.

Plus Novak Djokovic won't be looking ahead to the rest of the season when there is still one more match to be played here at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray - 3.5 games v Milos Raonic: This is a very interesting Semi Final as Milos Raonic looks to announce himself at the very top of the men's game if he can reach his first Grand Slam Final. Beating someone of the level of Andy Murray would be a huge achievement for Raonic who has made his first Grand Slam Semi Final in eighteen months after something of a disappointing 2015 season.

2016 has started in a much more positive fashion for Raonic who won the title in Brisbane and who has come through the draw with just three sets dropped. However, those have been dropped in the last couple of Rounds and I do wonder if the Canadian is really ready to face someone like Murray who is capable of getting a lot of balls back in play off the serve.

The conditions might favour Murray, but Raonic was an impressive winner in the night session during his Quarter Final against Gael Monfils. The latter is probably the best athlete on the Tour, but he isn't as effective a returner as Murray and I think that is where the World Number 2 will get some joy on a slightly slower court than the way it plays during the day.

It might be a bit different if the expected rain arrives which means this match will be played indoors, but the conditions could be similar to the O2 Arena where Murray beat Raonic at the end of 2014 in straight sets. Murray has won their last two matches after losing the previous two and I do think Raonic has improved his overall game which backs up his big serve.

Andy Murray will have to serve well but I think he is playing some top tennis this week and he will have the mental edge of having been in and won Grand Slam Semi Finals. He has enjoyed his time at the Australian Open without quite winning the title, but I think he will set up another shot at Novak Djokovic by being awkward enough in the return games to get through this match.

I am expecting Murray to come through in three or four sets and I will back him to cover this number of games.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 29-46, - 33.76 Units (144 Units Staked, - 23.44% Yield)

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