Only four players remain in the men’s singles competition at this year’s Australian Open with the semi-finals taking place on Friday.
Big names such as Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Daniil Medvedev crashed out prematurely in Melbourne this year, enabling outsiders Karen Khachanov and Tommy Paul to create paths to the last four.
But, however, they are joined by two players with plenty of Australian Open experience behind them Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic.
The betting odds suggest there could be one-way traffic in both of the men’s semi-finals.
Here is a look at how the matches could unfold and which two players could be heading to the final in Melbourne on Sunday 29th January in search of the season’s first Grand Slam.
Tsitsipas Comfortable in Melbourne, Khachanov Benefited From Easy Draw
Tsitsipas is expected to be far too strong for Khachanov. Due to the significant Greek population in Melbourne and similar weather to Athens. Tsitsipas considers the Australian Open as his “home Slam.”
The 24-year-old loves these courts and is playing in the AO semi-finals for the fourth time in the last five years.
Last year, Djokovic was defeated by Medvedev at this stage. However, Tsitsipas is confident and poised to reach his second Grand Slam final by defeating Khachanov.
Khachanov advanced to the semi-finals when Korda retired injured after Khachanov led 2-0 sets. The 26-year-old has reached this stage on merit. However, it is fair to say that he has had a comparatively easier run to the semi-finals in this year’s AO.
His third-round opponent Francis Tiafoe, who was the 16th seed, was the highest-ranked player he has faced.
Tsitsipas Leads Head-to-Head 5-0, Strong on Hard Courts
Tsitsipas has had an unexpectedly smoother run, winning four matches in straight sets and narrowly defeating 15th seed Jannick Sinner in a five-set thriller.
Experience is on the side of Tsitsipas, who also leads the H2H between these players 5-0 with four of those wins coming on the hard courts.
Djokovic will show class again on Melbourne hard courts. Hamstring issues threatened to derail Djokovic’s Australian Open campaign earlier in the tournament with the Serbian requiring medical timeouts in the second and third rounds in Melbourne.
He has since quashed any injury concerns with comfortable wins over Alex De Minaur and Andrey Rublev.
The nine-time Australian Open winner has been increasingly dominant throughout the tournament. Since the second round, Djokovic has not lost a single set, showcasing his undeniable hunger in Melbourne.
If he can justify betting odds of 1/5 to win outright, Djokovic will take his tally of AO titles to ten and will level Nadal’s overall Grand Slam tally of 22.
A determined Djokovic is dangerous and he goes into this match on a 26-match winning streak in the Australian Open. That spells bad news for 25-year-old American Tommy Paul, ranked 35, who has never gone this far at a Grand Slam before.
Players can only beat those in front of them but the draw has helped Paul, who has faced nobody in the top 20 at this year’s AO.
In his previous match against Ben Shelton, Tsitsipas faced some challenges. Dropping a set and going to a tiebreak in the first set. His relative inexperience might become evident against a master like Djokovic.