Well, well, well… now we’re really getting to the pointy end of AO 2020, aren’t we? Four in each field remain – close enough that you can dare to dream, far enough away that you should probably try not to.

Ash Barty, Sofia Kenin, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza; Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev – from that list of names, two each will emerge to play for the trophy. Read on for a look at each of the semi-finals at Australian Open 2020.

THURSDAY – Not before 2:00pm AEDT:

Ashleigh Barty (AUS) [1] v Sofia Kenin (USA) [14]

Suffice to say, Sofia Kenin will be seriously up against it when she steps on Rod Laver Arena against Ash Barty, but could she pull the upset? Trailing 1-4 in the head-to-head, the odds certainly aren’t in Kenin’s favour, but it’s worth noting that the last three of those matches (all in 2019) were very competitive, and Kenin’s sole victory came as recently as August in Toronto. Nevertheless, Barty’s ability to disrupt rhythm will make it hard for Kenin to string the shots together she needs to move the Aussie around the court, and that means she’ll need to play exceptionally close to the lines to be effective – doable, sure, but more likely is that the Aussie Open will have their first local women’s finalist in 40 years.

Not before 3:30pm:

Simona Halep (ROU) [4] v Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

It’s funny what a difference two years can make. Had Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza squared-off in the semis at AO 2018, it would’ve been framed as the former trying desperately to snatch a piece of grand slam glory from the latter, and yet, now it’s flipped completely. Her first meaningful run at a major since Roland Garros 2018, Muguruza has a lot to prove here, but she can take solace in her 2-2 record against Halep and the fact her power-hitting game matches up fairly well with the Romanian’s. However, the Halep of 2020 is far more adept at answering fire with fire, and while she’ll be forced to take her licks, that newfound offensive ability combined with her defensive prowess should mean that in the end, she’s the one still standing.

From 7:30pm:

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] v Roger Federer (SUI) [3]

It’s the question on everybody’s lips: how healthy is Roger Federer? If his incredibly fortunate quarterfinal escape over Tennys Sandgren is any indication, not very, and that means for all the history surrounding his 50th meeting with Novak Djokovic, it’s hard to get excited. Indeed, even if the Swiss was healthy, Djokovic would come in a clear favourite, particularly with the speed of this court making Federer’s preferred strategy of keeping the points short all that much harder. Of course, it’s still Roger freaking Federer, so you can never rule anything out, but all signs point to this being Djokovic in a laugher.

FRIDAY – From 7:30pm:

Alexander Zverev (GER) [7] v Dominic Thiem (AUT) [5]

Who is this smooth-serving, mentally-focused, yet still floppy-haired German, and what did he do with Sascha Zverev? In all seriousness, Zverev might as well be another man the way he’s played this tournament, absolutely obliterating the cloud that was hanging over him after the ATP cup, and yet now he faces his biggest test (by far) in Dominic Thiem. Holding a 6-2 head-to-head advantage, the Austrian has proven to be something of a thorn in the side of Zverev, and especially after knocking off world no. 1 Rafael Nadal, has to come in a strong favourite. That said, Zverev’s newfound confidence on serve could make all the difference here, as historically, it is the first-strike points that have cost him, and not the longer rallies where his 6’6 frame allows him to handle Thiem’s pace and spin reasonably well. Should he win that battle, this will get very interesting, very fast – even if ultimately, Thiem’s greater experience and sheer relentlessness over five sets should still be enough to see him through.


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