The game of tennis never ceases to surprise and amaze and this year’s Australian Open, which has delivered plenty of fairy tale stories in the past, is on the cusp of throwing up arguably two of the most unexpected finals in its history. Both semi-finals featured six players aged over 30 and, pre-tournament, the bookmakers and pundits gave veterans Venus Williams (aged 36), Roger Federer (35) and Rafa Nadal (approaching 31) little chance of rolling back the years and contesting this year’s final, as it seemed their best years in terms of Grand Slams were seemingly behind them.
However, the tennis Gods have blessed them with a new found youth and exuberance this fortnight, along with a big slice of good fortune, for possibly one last hurrah and chance of thrilling their adoring fans and adding another Grand Slam to their already glittering resumes.
Sisters Venus and Serena Williams will contest Saturday’s women’s final and they will be the oldest Grand Slam finalists in the open era. It’s their first Slam final appearance since Wimbledon 2009 and if favourite Serena beats her sister for the 17th time she will break the open era Grand Slam wins record currently held by her and Steffi Graff at 22. If Venus wins it will be her first Grand Slam title since she beat Serena in the Wimbledon 2008 final and her eighth Slam title in total.
Roger Federer’s achievement of reaching his 27th Grand Slam final at the age of 35 and after 6 months off the men’s tour is nothing short of a miracle. Even though he avoided playing the top two seeds Murray and Djokovic, he still had to overcome the fourth and fifth best players in the world in gruelling five set tussles en route to the final. The way he overcame Wawrinka in the fifth set yesterday was one of his greatest ever performances.
By the time you read this article the second semi-final featuring Dimitrov (advised 66/1) and favourite Nadal will be underway. Like Federer before him, it’s hard to oppose Nadal reaching his 21st Grand Slam final and first since winning the French Open in 2014 today. His form this fortnight is on a par with the old Rafa and his formidable ability to grind opponents down physically and mentally in high pressure matches is an attribute Dimitrov is unfortunately still lacking.
It will be no coincidence if Federer and Nadal contest their ninth Grand Slam final on Sunday, even though it does seem like destiny now and the organisers and majority of fans will no doubt be cheering and willing on Nadal to follow in Federer’s footsteps as this is the final the whole world wants to see.
From my tournament advice perspective it will be frustrating if Dimitrov fails to reach the final after Raonic and Wawrinka came so close to returning a profit. However, you could have covered your stakes or hedged some profit at least and hopefully it will give you the confidence to continue following my advice for the remainder of the season and spread the word about this blog.