Australian Open 2012: Novak Djokovic Favored to Beat Andy Murray in Semifinal

Shane LambertAnalyst IIJanuary 25, 2012

Andy Murray
Andy MurrayRyan Pierse/Getty Images

The men's semifinals are set with Roger Federer scheduled to face Rafael Nadal on Day 11 from Melbourne Park. That match is part of the evening session on Thursday with a 7:30pm (Melbourne time) start in Rod Laver Arena.

The other men's semifinal, between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, will take place on Day 12. Djokovic, the defending champion who beat Murray in the 2011 Australian Open championship match, is considered the betting favorite heading into the match.

The world No. 1 is priced at -220 (5/11) with Sportingbet while Murray comes in as the underdog at +190 (19/10) with bet 365.

Both players have shown minute signs of weakness at the 2012 Aussie. Djokovic dropped a set in the fourth round against a seemingly rejuvenated Lleyton Hewitt. Murray has been almost flawless in Melbourne this year, even though he dropped the first set of his tournament against Ryan Harrison.

Both Djokovic and Murray defeated their quarterfinal opponents, without drama, in straight sets.

In terms of historical head-to-heads, Djokovic leads Murray 6-4 with last year's Australian Open final, the only Grand Slam contest in their history. The two players are only a week apart in terms of age and they seem destined to meet in many more hard court Grand Slam matches in the future.

Murray has won his semifinal match ups in three Grand Slam draws in the past, all of them in hard court tournaments. However, Djokovic is clearly the more proven player in big matches as the Serb has won six semifinals before.

Murray is a tough read in matches such as these: he clearly has enough talent to win however we've seen him lose so many big matches against Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal that you just can't have much faith in the Scot.

It is my opinion that Murray has improved recently, perhaps due to his new relationship with Ivan Lendl or perhaps due to the fact that he is gaining more and more experience.

But even if you agree that Murray is improved that still does not mean that he will be able to beat Djokovic as the Serb was much better than the Scot in last year's championship. Even if the gap is closing, that does not mean it is 100% closed.

My prediction with the semifinal is that Murray will represent himself better against Djokovic than the Scot did in last year's final but that the Serb will still win in a well contested match.