Aza and Rafa to prevail
Nadal leads the head-to-head series between the pair of greats 19-9.
Ben Caudell can't wait to see two of the best hit centre court tonight in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, and for his money, it will be Nadal who progresses to the big one.
•Friday's semi-final match between the 2011 Australian Open champion - Belgium stalwart Kim Clijsters - and twenty three year-old Victoria Azarenka of Belarus could go either way. However, I am slightly in favour of Azarenka, who looks to be peaking at the right time.
•Victoria who is ranked eleven places above her opponent with a ranking of three in the world, also holds a superior match rating, surface rating, and predicted chance of winning this match at 78%
•Azarenka is the in-form girl at the moment having won ten matches in a row overall and ten in row in Australia.
•Although Clijsters leads the head-to-head series 4-2, Victoria came through their most recent match in straight sets 6-3 6-3 (Miami 2011). Clijsters, who was thankful for not going the distance with Wozniacki in the previous round, has a suspected ankle injury that could prevent her from playing at 100%, therefore the [1.95] currently on offer for a Azarenka win is definitely tempting to get involved in.
•Although Federer's recent form on the indoor and outdoor hard-courts has been truly inspirational at times, there are still lingering doubts whether he can compete against the top players in a best-of-five set match and so late into a Grand Slam event. Some may say that he proved against Juan Martin Del Potro that there are no signs that his legs need a rest, but here he will be up against Rafael Nadal, the king of energy-sapping rallies and a grinder that has a massive psychological advantage over his nemesis.
•Nadal leads the head-to-head series between the pair of greats 19-9 (including exhibition events) and has won five of their last six meetings, his most recent win coming at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition event, won in straight sets (6-1 7-5). Moreover, Nadal has notably defeated the Fed Express on outdoor hard-courts six out of seven times; this includes their only match at Melbourne Park, in which Nadal came through a tough five-set epic in the 2009 final.
•Although Nadal has lost four of his last five matches when priced as an underdog (2.0 - 2.99) Federer has also lost four in a row when priced as a moderate favourite (1.50 - 1.99) The Spaniard has the advantage of having won nine in a row in five set matches, Federer has won seven in a row.
•Not so surprising is the fact that Nadal has better tournament stats on the return of serve. The world number two leads Federer on break points won, second serve return points won, first serve return points won (leader of tournament) and also has a higher percentage of first serves in court.
•The left-hander definitely has Roger's back. Not since Wimbledon 2007 has Federer defeated the Spaniard in a Grand Slam event, with Nadal winning their last four Grand Slam matches in a row, Roger's form could count for nothing...