Australian Open 2013: Predictions for Day 11's Semifinal Matchups

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her Quarterfinal match against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia during day nine of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Day 11 at the 2013 Australian Open will be highlighted by three monumental singles semifinal matches.

On the men's side, No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic will take on fourth-seeded David Ferrer for a spot in Sunday's final.

Meanwhile, in the women's draw, No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova will take on sixth-seeded Li Na for the right to advance to Saturday's women's championship. In the other women's semifinal, reigning champion Victoria Azarenka will take on a surging Serena Williams to see who moves on to the final.

With Thursday's matchups set, all that's left to do is make some predictions.

Let's begin.


Novak Djokovic (1) Over David Ferrer (4)

You will be hard-pressed to find any tennis experts picking David Ferrer to beat Novak Djokovic on Day 11. The two-time defending men's champion at the Australian Open, Djokovic, has looked human at times, but then again so has his upcoming opponent.

For me, this match features two players on different status levels.

I can't envision a scenario where Ferrer has success during Djokovic's service games. Djokovic is winning 81 percent of his first-serve points Down Under this January and just under 70 percent of his second-serve points. Plus, he will have an advantage going up against the smaller Ferrer during the Spaniard's service games. Ferrer is winning just 72 percent of his first-serve points and only 50 percent of his second-serve points.

Those statistics aren't horrible by any means, but they aren't nearly as impressive as Djokovic's service numbers. In the end I believe that difference will prove to be the most pivotal one.

Toss in Djokovic's ability to fight off points better than anyone else, and Ferrer looks to be completely over-matched here.


Maria Sharapova (2) Over Li Na (6)

Not only has Maria Sharapova yet to drop a single set in Melbourne, she hasn't even lost more than four games in a single match.

The 2008 Aussie Open champ is looking more and more superhuman by the day, and that's why I love her chances to take down a scorching-hot Li Na on Day 11. I expect Sharapova to be much fresher than Li, having played fewer games and sets to this point. 

Plus, she's five years younger than the 30-year-old Li.

Also, Sharapova's strength during her service games should prove to be a huge key in this match. Li will struggle to find break-point chances, and if and when she does, breaking Sharapova is an entirely different animal altogether. 


Victoria Azarenka (1) Over Sloane Stephens (29)

No one wants to play Sloane Stephens right now, not even women's No. 1 Victoria Azarenka

But still, while Serena Williams pushed Stephens to the brink with her experience, Azarenka has the youth to contend with the young American, and perhaps end her brilliant run in Melbourne.

Azarenka finished off her quarterfinal win over Svetlana Kuznetsova in under two hours, which means she should have a huge advantage in terms of freshness and energy coming into Thursday's semifinal. In addition, Azarenka can sense how close she is to repeating. With a win over Stephens, the 23-year-old Belarusian will be back into the women's final for the second time in as many years, one win away from adding to her legacy and making history.

Stephens has given us every reason to believe in her again on Day 11, but to beat Williams and Azarenka in two straight matches in two straight days would be unimaginable.


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter throughout the 2013 Australian Open for more reaction and analysis on the year's first Grand Slam.

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