And Then There Were Four

Intriguing semi-final contests

By Roger Childs 

Halep (left), just beat Davis in the third round but is now a semi-finalist.

The Australian Open has provided fascinating viewing for nearly two weeks.

After 128 started in the first round of the two singles tournaments, we are now down to four.

Unusually, the women’s semi-finalists are a more predictable quartet than the men!

Only Angelique Kerber, is a previous grand slam winner, however the two top seeds: Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki have survived.

Women’s action

Elise Mertens: first semi final

The winner is hard to pick, and the unseeded Elise Mertens, from Belgium, is definitely in the frame. She has played well throughout the first four rounds and thrashed the fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-0, in the quarters.

Wozniacki, who was a finalist here in Auckland, has also been impressive so far and top ranked Halep had a convincing 6-3 6-2 win over Karolina Pliskova in her quarter final.

The number one seed had a very close call against Lauren Davis in round three, but after surviving four match points won the third set 15-13.

Experience V Youth in the men’s semis

Federer won last year; can he do it again?.

The men’s semi finals will be fascinating with the very experienced Marin Cilic and Roger Federer up against the new generation represented by Kyle Edmund and Hyeon Chung.

The results are not a foregone conclusion. Edmund comfortably beat world number 3 and winner of the prestigious November Barclay’s tournament Gregor Dimitrov; and Chung crushed Novak Djokovic in three sets in the fourth round.

Federer made a poor start in his quarter final against Tomas Berdych and the Czech served for the set at 5-3. But as he often does, the Swiss maestro broke back and walloped Berdych 7-1 in the tie-break.

Two sets later it was all over and the Swiss maestro was through to his 14th Australian open semi-final! To win his 20th grand slam he faces two obstacles and one of them is a Korean 15 years his junior.

Hyeon the giant-killer 

Credit Tom Scott

To make the semi-finals the unseeded Hyeon Chung had beaten fourth seed Alexander Zverev and 12 times grand slam winner, Novak Djokovic. He is a key part of the unfolding changing of the guard in men’s tennis.

But can he take the biggest scalp of all: Roger Federer? It will be the master verses the apprentice, however the young Korean has already shown that he is ready for the big time.

Know as “the professor” on the ATP circuit because he wears glasses, Chung shows a maturity which belies his age and his game has no weaknesses. He has a strong serve, powerful ground strokes, excellent placement and superb retrieval skills.

It will be a fascinating encounter.

Ryeon Chung

Meanwhile today, unseeded Briton, Kyle Edmund, faces the big serving Croatian Marin Cilic.

The former US Open winner is probably under the most pressure. Tim Henman  gives compatriot Edmund a good chance:

He’s got nothing to lose and lots to gain. He can go out there and revel in the atmosphere.