Aussie Open Semifinal Previews

(2) Maria Sharapova vs. (10) Ekaterina Makarova-Head to Head (Sharapova leads 5-0)

Since saving 2 match points with forehand winners in the 2nd round, Sharapova has been a different player, confident, aggressive, and ruthless.  She has dropped just 5 games against quality opponents, Genie Bouchard and Peng Shuai to get here. She wants a 6th major bad, and wants it now.  Makarova has improved as much as anyone over the last 6 or so months, breaking into the top10.  She notched a minor upset over 4 seed Simona Halep in the quarters. Her lefty serve and sweeping forehand will keep her in this. However, as long as Maria moves her feet and connects on a few big returns, look for the Ice Maiden to improve to 6-0 vs. Makarova and reach her 10th major final in 2 tight sets.

(1) Serena Williams vs.  Madison Keys-Head to Head (first meeting)

Serena is still Serena she had not played her best tennis until the last round, but all the sudden the booming serve started to click and she finally looked 100% focused. Beating her here, is going to be a tall order for anyone. However, I give 19-year-old Madison Keys a punchers chance to shock her countrywoman. The Keys’ serve is good enough that even Serena won’t have too many chances to break. Keys is battling some sort of calf injury.  It would be a real shame if that became an issue here, and ended her fairytale run. The other thing working against the young American is beating Serena’s big sister Venus yesterday. The sisters always play well when family pride is on the line. This is the first of many major semifinals for Keys. There will be a changing of the guard, just not yet. Serena in 2  tiebreak sets.

(6) Andy Murray vs. (7) Thomas Berdych-Head to Head (Berdych leads 6-4)

There are a lot of subplots here. Most notably, Berdych is now being coached by Murray’s former coach from 2006-2014. However, I actually think the result here will be fairly straightforward. Berdych beat Rafa Nadal last round after 17 consecutive losses to the Spaniard. Translation: he’s just happy to be here. Meanwhile, Murray finally looks to be back at his best after playing while recovering from back surgery most of last year. I particularly like the way he is moving. He has a real shot to claim the Australian Open title that he has come so close to on multiple occasions in the past. I like him to at least reach the final. Note, the men play 3 out of 5 sets at the 4 majors. I’ll take Murray in 4 sets here.

I will preview the 2nd men’s semi tomorrow along with the women’s final. I have a Super Bowl preview coming Friday. In the meantime, enjoy these matches tonight starting at 9:30 on ESPN2. They are all intriguing in their own way.