After a barrage of upsets at the 2014 Australian Open, there remains but one top-three seed standing on either the men's or women's sides, with semifinals matches coming up on Day 11.
On tap for Thursday, Jan. 23 are a couple of women's semifinals matches and one of the two men's semifinals, along with some late-round doubles matches.
Here's a quick look at the television schedule for Day 11, followed by a closer examination of the biggest matches on the slate:
|Wed, Jan. 22||9:30 p.m. - 2 a.m.||Women's Semis||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jan. 23||3:30-6 a.m.||Men's Semi 1||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jan. 23||11 p.m. - 3 a.m.||Mixed Dbl Semis, W. Dbl Final||Tennis Ch.|
After an early men's doubles semifinals match, the first of two women's semifinals will take place at Rod Laver Arena, featuring teenage sensation Eugenie Bouchard (No. 30) going up against Chinese star and longtime WTA Tour veteran Li Na (No. 4).
Li is the highest-seeded player left on the woman's side, and she'll be heavily favored to win against Canada's Bouchard. She's been cruising since a third-round scare against Lucie Safarova, losing just six games in her last two matches.
That said, top seeds haven't fared well at Rod Laver Stadium of late, as ESPN's Chris McKendry points out:
6 of last 7 matches on Rod Laver Arena won by the lower seed. Next up in singles #30 Genie Bouchard vs. #4 Li Na. Hmmmmm— Chris McKendry (@CMCKENDRY_ESPN) January 22, 2014
Furthermore, Bouchard showed exceptional pluck and poise in her quarterfinals match against Ana Ivanovic (who knocked off Serena Williams in the fourth round). She's clearly not going to be intimidated by the big stage or by her opponent.
“I do try to walk around like I belong there, and play like I belong, and every time I walk on the court I believe I can win,” Bouchard recently said, via Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times. “I think that’s really important, to have that self-confidence."
She'll need more than self-confidence to knock off Li, however, who doesn't give anything away on the court.
At the conclusion of the match between Li and Bouchard, fans will be treated to the second women's semifinals match of the day when Dominika Cibulkova (No. 20) squares off against Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 5).
Cibulkova has been one of the most surprising stories of the tourney, having knocked off Maria Sharapova (No. 3) in Round 4. She backed her strong performance against Sharapova with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 victory over Simona Halep (No. 11).
Radwanska reached the semifinals at the Australian Open for the first time with a big win over Victoria Azarenka (No. 2) in the quarterfinals. She will be favored to win, but Cibulkova has proven more than capable of putting up a good fight.
Later in the evening, Tomas Berdych (No. 7) will battle Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 8) to see who will advance into the final. It will be a first for either man.
This match is historically significant, notes Rothenberg:
#AusOpen semifinal of No7 Berdych-No8 Wawrinka is first men's Slam semi without a top-5 player since 2009 French Open (Soderling-Gonzalez).— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 21, 2014
This is a tough one to call, because both men are playing so well right now: Berdych took down David Ferrer (No. 3) in four sets in the quarterfinals, while Wawrinka knocked off Novak Djokovic (No. 2), who was looking for his fourth straight Australian Open title this year.
Matt Wilansky of ESPN.com gives his thoughts on a potential (first) title for Wawrinka:
For all the potential interlopers, no one is more deserving than Wawrinka, who went from being the centerpiece of marathon dejection to pulling off the most significant match of his career in a four-hour, five-set win over Djokovic.
If the scrappy Wawrinka can hold his own against Berdych's powerful serve, then he will come through with the win. However, if the big Czech comes to play with his A-game and dominates his service game, then the match is anyone's to win.
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