Thu, Jan 25, 8:30am by Staff Writer
The final four men and women will each embark on their semi-finals on Thursday and Friday, with a chance at making the final of the 2018 Australian Open at stake.
Before the 2018 Australian Open, the odds of the four men who have won through their quarters doing so was rated at over 500/1 and so we have quite the mix of youth and experience in this year’s men’s semi-finals.
21-year-old Korean Next Gen star Hyeon Chung has had the week of his life, winning through to his first Grand Slam semi-final against the almighty Roger Federer.
It has been a truly memorable week for Chung who boasts wins against Mischa Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, world number 4 Alexander Zverev, six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and surprise packet Tennys Sandgren.
Chung has been dubbed ‘mini Djokovic’ for his baseline heavy game and dogged defensive style.
Djokovic is one man who has been able to generate some sustained success against the Swiss master Roger Federer, but Chung is still years away from being as consistent as Djokovic, and comparisons are made purely based on game style.
In matches as big as Grand Slam semi-finals, nerves are sure to play a part, something which Chung experienced in his quarter final against Sandgren.
He required five match points before finally clinching his spot in the final four.
Roger Federer looks a good chance of defending his Australian Open title in 2018, having gotten to the semi-finals without dropping a set. Wins against Aljaz Bedene, Jan-Lennard Struff, Richard Gasquet, Marton Fucsovics and Tomas Berdych have shown Federer is at his masterful best and will take some stopping on Friday.
6th seed Marin Cilic faces world number 49 Kyle Edmund in the second men’s semi-final.
Cilic beat Edmund in their only career meeting last year at the Shanghai Masters and will be hoping to add to his Grand Slam collection with a potential Australian Open crown on Sunday.
Cilic has also looked tremendous this tournament, dropping only two sets, with his biggest challenge during the Open being a match against Nafael Nadal.
Much like Chung, Edmund has had his best Grand Slam result ever during his two weeks at Melbourne Park and has battled through heat and adversity for much of it.
If Edmund is to beat Cilic on Friday, he will need more consistency from his backhand and to continue to use his biggest weapon which is his forehand.
Tennis is a sport of small margins, but we have liked what we have seen from Edmund over the past fortnight. He has had a tough lead in, but Cilic has been far from invincible in times gone by, and at big odds Edmund is worth a bet.
Best bet- Kyle Edmund to defeat Marin Cilic at $3.45
Best bet- Roger Federer to defeat Hyeon Chung in straight sets 3-0 at $1.72
2016 Australian Open champion and 21st seed Angelique Kerber headlines the final four women in the draw vying to become the 2018 champion.
Kerber faces a stern test against world number one Simona Halep, who has battled through an ankle injury to post some very impressive results over the past week in particular.
Both women obliterated their opponents in their respective quarter-finals. Kerber dominated the in-form Madison Keys, while Halep proved she is force to be reckoned with on hard courts, defeating the one dimensional Karolina Pliskova.
Halep and Kerber are undefeated in 2018, with Kerber winning the Sydney International and all of her matches at the Hopman Cup. Before the Australian Open, Halep won the Shenzen title.
With their head-to-head record split at 4-4, there is very little separating these two accomplished tennis players.
There have always been question marks surrounding Halep and her ability to convert, particularly at clutch moments in Grand Slam’s.
Until she proves otherwise, this doubt will linger, and we are more inclined to side with the more experienced Kerber.
The second ladies semi-final features two women who have also had tremendous starts to the 2018 season.
Belgian Elise Mertens won the Hobart title just before the Australian Open started and Caroline Wozniacki was a finalist in Auckland.
Mertens is the youngest of the remaining four players and is coached by fan favourite Kim Clijsters.
Mertens has risen to prominence during this tournament, after spending much of 2017 in the lower WTA tournaments.
Her game is very polished and she is yet to drop a set all tournament, beating the in-form world number 4 Elina Svitolina and Australian Daria Gavrilova on her way to the semi-finals.
World number 2 Wozniacki is yet to win at Grand Slam title despite formerly being world number 1, with this tournament posing the best chance of snapping that hoodoo.
Wozniacki has also had a solid tournament, despite almost being bundled out in the second round.
It is hard to dislike Mertens in this match up, but we so often see young players falter at the last hurdle, particularly in big tournaments.
For that reason, we are leaning towards Wozniacki in what will surely be a lose match.
Best bet- Angelique Kerber to defeat Simona Halep at $1.76
*Odds provided by Sportsbet
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