The adrenaline rush at the Australian Open 2019 intensifies as the tournament reaches the semifinals stage. The Quarterfinals were not short of drama, just like the previous stages, with Serena Williams losing to Karolina Pliskova after having four match points.
Lucas Pouille’s stunning win over Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori’s journey ending with a retirement against Novak Djokovic and more. All the drama aside, 4 men and women now remain and the battle to clinch the first Grand Slam of the season draws closer to its end.
Men’s Singles Semifinals Preview
The veterans vs the newcomers.
Rafael Nadal v Stefanos Tsitsipas
King of Clay, Rafael Nadal is dominating here on hard court, surprisingly. The only player left without dropping a set, Nadal was in cruise control from start to finish in his quarterfinal match against the giant-slaying Frances Tiafoe. In 2009, the only time he won the Australian Open, Nadal got to the semifinals without dropping a set and went on to win the title. Déjà vu.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has warmed his way into the hearts of tennis fans all around the world, beating Roger Federer in the round of 16 and backing it up with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) victory over resilient Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals. The 2018 Next Gen Finals champion will be making his debut in a Grand Slam semifinal and beating Nadal is next on his agenda.
What a match this is going to be! Nadal looks to become the first man to win each of the four Grand Slams twice in the Open era, young, confident Tsitsipas stands in his way. The veteran and the young gun met twice in 2018 with Nadal winning both encounters but Tsitsipas has grown immensely and risen in rankings since then. A tough one to predict but experience should prevail over youth in this tie. It will definitely not be a walk in the park for Nadal but he will do enough to reach the final, a step closer to a first Australian Open title in a decade.
Novak Djokovic v Lucas Pouille
World number one, Novak Djokovic did not have to do much to reach the semifinals as his opponent, Kei Nishikori retired when the Serb was 6-1, 4-1 up. He will be well rested going into the semifinals, rest that he needs after being pushed by Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev in previous rounds. Gunning for a third consecutive Grand Slam title after winning at Wimbledon and the US Open last season, Djokovic heads into the last 4 as favorite.
The rejuvenated Lucas Pouille, under the coaching of Amelie Mauresmo will be appearing in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. With a quarterfinal win over an in form Milos Raonic under his belt, the Frenchman is the most surprising name in the semifinals. The only ATP top 100 player with a female coach, Pouille is in great shape, confident and ready to battle anyone.
As much as Novak Djokovic is the obvious favorite, he has not been playing his best tennis in Melbourne but his short quarterfinal match will make him fresher than he was in previous rounds. Pouille will have to keep his serves strong as they were against Milos Raonic. Here again, a veteran faces a Grand Slam semifinal debutant and there will be no upset. Novak Djokovic for the win.
Women’s Singles Semifinals Preview:
The battle for top ranking. All to play for.
Petra Kvitova v Danielle Collins
Petra Kvitova has reached her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2014 without dropping a set. The Czech has overcome rough times, including a knife attack in her own home in 2016 – an attack which resulted in tendon and nerve injuries to her left hand, leaving her career in doubt. Kvitova beat local favourite, Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semifinals which will not only be a step closer to the title but a step closer to becoming World number one for the first time as well. The current world number six will reach that height if she wins the title.
Danielle Collins is having the best time of her career. The 25-year-old who played collegiate tennis for the University of Virginia and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Media Studies has come from never winning a Grand Slam match main draw match to reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, causing many upsets on the way. After defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets in the quarterfinals, Collins can ride on the confidence she has gained round after round.
This match up sees these two women face each other for the second time in barely 3 weeks as they met in the Brisbane International first round just before the Australian Open. Kvitova beat Collins 6-7(6), 7-6(6), 6-3 in a fierce battle. A battle just as fierce is expected, Kvitova will however end Collins’ amazing run.
Naomi Osaka v Karolina Pliskova
Against all odds, Naomi Osaka has improved match after match, beating Elina Svitolina in a surprisingly straight forward 6-4, 6-1 quarterfinal match. The 2018 US Open Champion has had a tremendous one year, going higher in rankings, now world number 4. With the top 3 WTA players, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki out, Osaka has the points lead to become World number one as the battle for the top spot continues in the final four.
Karolina Pliskova played one of the most exciting and nerve wracking matches of the tournament, coming from 1-5 down in the decider against Serena Williams, saving 4 match points in the process to close out a huge 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 quarterfinal victory over the 23-time Grand Slam Champion. A former world number one, albeit for a short time of about two months, Pliskova will be aiming to reach that height again by winning the title.
This is the match of the semifinals! Both women stand in each other’s way of the title and the World number one spot. Relatively familiar foes, Pliskova has won two of their three meetings. This is a very tough one to call. Whichever way it goes, it is going to be an absolute battle, one the winner will work very hard for.
The Australian Open has been a blast so far and the semifinals will even add to the excitement of it all. Bring it on!