Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 11 of the 2021 Australian Open.
Look, we’re not pleased about it either.
We’re not pleased having to discuss this stupid thing but because folks as important and consequential as Toni Nadal, Patrick Mouratoglou and Nick Kyrgios did, then we’ll do it as well. (And sure, part of it is that we need to find a topic for every daily preview we write, we recognize that.)
Toni Nadal. ‘“It surprises me that Djokovic’s has a pain, was in doubt for the match, and the pain disappears in the next morning” https://t.co/rUNcmbttck
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 15, 2021
Was the Djokovic injury real or fake? The Serb, you might recall, got injured in his match against Taylor Fritz. He survived that match in five sets but then wasn’t sure whether he would compete in the fourth round against Milos Raonic. The tennis world, in part because of what Djokovic himself said, feared that he had suffered a muscle tear against Fritz.
Did he? Was Djokovic seriously injured but managed to magically healed? Or did he merely overstate the severity of his discomfort in the heat of the moment?
All of the above might very well be true but ultimately, we prefer to focus on one thing and one thing only: is any of it our, or Toni Nadal’s, or Mouratoglou’s, or Kyrgios’s, business? Who ultimately cares whether Djokovic was or wasn’t injured? What does it say about our society where we doubt the words of someone on whether he suffered an injury because we deem that he’s not affected enough by it?
What a sick world and a sick society.
We’ll use the rest of this space today to give our thoughts and predictions on the three singles semifinals on the agenda. As always, the entire day 11 schedule is right here.
Rod Laver Arena: Serena Williams  vs Naomi Osaka  (Not before 2pm AEDT)
Will this match live up to the billing? Given the unbelievable hype, it seems like it’s just about impossible—and yet? And yet, we haven’t seen anyone this year at the Australian Open play as well as both Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams. Remember, if the latter is chasing her elusive 24th Grand Slam title, a quest that’s now reached four full years, it’s in no small part because the former beat her in the 2018 US Open final.
We’ve gone back and forth here, but we’ll side with our gut: Williams wins the match in three sets.
Rod Laver Arena: Karolina Muchova  vs Jennifer Brady  (Following the first semifinal)
How fitting to see this matchup considering what we wrote at the top and that we get to preview this match as well. Folks doubted whether Karolina Muchova’s injury was legitimate and her strategy to call a medical timeout down 1-6 and 1-2 in the semifinal. How injured could she really have been if she managed to flip the match on its head after this timeout? On the one hand, it’s none of anyone’s business. And also, isn’t that the point of the medical timeout, to help a player overcome an injury?
The MTO by Muchova at 1-6 1-2, a break down seemed legit, but it still does not sit well when it pivots a match on a dime. Muchova has won 7 of 8 games since leaving the court. Thoughts anyone?
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) February 17, 2021
By the end of this semifinal, someone will be excessively happy. They’ll be excessively at making their first ever Grand Slam singles final only to realize that they’ll be massive underdog in that match. Brady will be that person, she wins in two sets here.
Rod Laver Arena: Aslan Karatsev [Q] vs Novak Djokovic  (Not before 7:30pm AEDT)
For his next trick, the new demigod of men’s tennis will try to make the great Novak Djokovic turn back into a pumpkin. Look, it’s been so, so much fun to watch Aslan Karatsev make a great approximation of a prime Marat Safin as he’s become, with every new win, the first player to do X, Y and Z in however many long. It’s been so much fun, but all good things come to an end: Djokovic wins this in four sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG