The semi finals of the women’s singles in the 2016 Australian Open are all set for Thursday at Melbourne Park, with Serena Williams seeking a place in another major final.
Wednesday’s sole wager in the men’s draw was a comfortable winner with the under 41.5 total games in Milos Raonic’s victory over Gael Monfils, with the Frenchman not helping himself with tape all over his fingers after that daft dive the other day.
It’s set to be another rainy day in Melbourne on Thursday, with indoor semi finals the likelihood if the forecast is to be believed.
Serena Williams vs Agnieszka Radwanska
This ninth career clash at main level (and 10th in all) between the world number one and the current world number four is an intriguing one, despite the career series heavily favouring Williams.
The pair haven’t clashed since the final of the Hopman Cup a year ago, in which Radwanska recorded her first win over Williams, and despite it’s non-tour level status it will still have given the Pole some confidence.
Frankly, you’ll take what you can with a 0-8 tour level record and 1-16 in sets against a certain opponent and it is at the very least something positive for Aga in this match-up.
Radwanska adopted a very attacking approach that day and hit 27 winners past Williams, who struck 59 unforced errors, and surely Aga’s only chance here is to force herself to really try and take the game to the American.
Serena had the doctor and physio out on to the court early on in her umpteenth win over Maria Sharapova in the quarter finals here and she said that was due to an untimely bout of food poisoning a few days ago.
And once Williams found her mark she was in no real danger from Sharapova, who despite the terrible match-up was also dealing with a left forearm injury that will now force her off the tour for six weeks.
Talking of injuries Radwanska has been nursing a leg injury that saw her withdraw from Brisbane ahead of this tournament and after a straight sets win over Carla Suarez Navarro in the last eight she played down concerns regarding the issue.
“It's nothing that serious that I can't run or play so it's okay,” she said, but there again she’s hardly likely to admit any misgivings to all and sundry ahead of a major semi final.
Williams comes into this one as a 1.15 favourite, which is around the same price as she was in her last tour level meet with Radwanska, which was at the WTA Finals in Istanbul two years ago.
And as a 1.10 to 1.20 favourite Williams has a 93-11 record and in majors that mark improves to 28-1, with the sole defeat coming at the hands of Katarina Srebotnik in the 2008 French Open.
There’s no value on siding with Serena here and of course she did lose in her most recent major semi final to an opponent with variety and guile in Roberta Vinci and I don’t see Aga as a forlorn hope here.
That said, it’s hard to see her matching Vinci and winning against Williams from a set down and the Pole’s chances here surely lie in a fast, aggressive start and one of Serena’s slow starts.
The 4.20 about Radwanska set one looks a good long shot for this match.
Johanna Konta vs Angelique Kerber
To say that I am seething about my women’s outrights on Kate Makarova and Madison Keys would be to out it mildly, with a superb opportunity wasted by the Russian, while Keys’ injury curse struck the American again.
Instead of either of those two we have ‘Brit’ Johanna Konta in that slot, taking on Kerber, who stunned Vika Azarenka in the quarter finals.
Konta, whose presence in this semi final has about as much to do with the British tennis system as my cat does, has certainly made the most of her draw, with a straightforward win over Shuai Zhang, who was exhausted after coming through qualifying and was only there at all due to the injury to Keys.
But none of that will bother Konta and nor should it when she faces Kerber for a place in the final at round about 04:00 UK time on Thursday.
It will be a first meeting between the pair and only Jo’s eighth clash with a top-10 ranked opponent in her career so far.
And it’s a tough ask for Konta, who the layers have as a 3.50 chance to defeat Kerber, who will play her third major semi final after losses to Radwanska and Sam Stosur in previous appearances.
That experience will surely aid Kerber, with Konta’s biggest match so far being the last eight in the Wuhan Open last autumn, which she lost to Venus Williams.
There’s a lot to like about Konta’s game and she may be able to strike some blows across the bows of Kerber with her heavy serve and ground strokes.
Konta has beaten a classy lefty in Makarova already this tournament, but if Kerber produces the kind of form she displayed against Azarenka I’d expect the German to make her first major final here.
I’d be tempted with the 2-0 to Kerber, but at odds-on the price isn’t great, so I’ll stick with the Radwanska wager today.
Long shot: Back Radwanska to win set one at 4.20