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It won’t get the hype of the other men’s Australian Open semifinal match, but top-seeded Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Andy Murray have their own history as they face off in Melbourne for a spot in Sunday’s final of the first Grand Slam event of the year. Djokovic, the reigning champion here, opened as the -120 tennis bets favorite on WagerWeb.com for Friday night’s match in Melbourne.
With Djokovic’s straight-sets win over David Ferrer and Murray’s sweep of Kei Nishikori, the semifinals will once again be all chalk. The Roger/Rafa/Novak/Andy foursome filled out the semifinals at both the French and U.S. Opens last season and three of the four advanced to the semis at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Since the 2005 Australian Open, only one other player — Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open — has won a Grand Slam.
This marks only the third time that the top four seeds have advanced to the semis at the Australian Open — it previously happened in 1988 and 2005. It was also the 14th time at all Grand Slams since the Open Era began in 1968.
Djokovic has been the best of the four in major tournaments of late, winning three of the four in 2011. He beat Murray in straight sets in last year’s Australian Open final. That victory launched Djokovic on one of the finest seasons in tennis history and sent Murray into a funk that lasted until the clay-court season in April. But Murray has embraced change this year, hiring a new coach in Ivan Lendl, while Djokovic has stuck by the same support team, headed by his longtime coach Marian Vajda.
The world No. 1 beat the Spaniard No. 5 seed David Ferrer 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in his quarterfinal. Djokovic got past Ferrer in 2 hours, 44 minutes by hitting 17 more winners and breaking the Spaniard five times, compared to only two breaks for the loser. It was far from plain sailing for the Serbian, who also appeared to struggle with a hamstring injury.
But he said: “I have no concerns of recovering for the next match.”
Murray, a the three-time Grand Slam runner-up handled 24th-seeded Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday. The 24-year-old Scot struck 36 winners and won nearly 80 percent of his first- serve points, while Nishikori piled up 39 unforced errors.
Murray won the warm-up tournament in Brisbane and looks terrific under Lendl’s tutelage. Murray will meet Djokovic for the 11th time, with the Serb holding a 6-4 lifetime advantage. Their lone Grand Slam meeting came in last year’s final here, which Djokovic won easily, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic is 3-0 when they’ve met in semifinals of a tournament.
The winner of course faces the Nadal-Federer winner on Sunday (late Saturday in USA) in Melbourne.