5 min read
It's official: the Australian Open semifinals are set. Just four men and four women remain on the hunt for the first Grand Slam title of the year. The women are up first, playing on Thursday night in Melbourne (overnight in the U.S.).
Universal Tennis INSIGHTS is helping us break down what to expect Down Under.
(1) Ashleigh Barty (13.40) vs. Madison Keys (12.88)
It's no surprise that Barty is favored to reach her first Australian Open final. INSIGHTS gives the 25-year-old Australian the 78% edge over Keys and a whopping 55% chance of winning the title. It would be her third Grand Slam but first on home soil. While they're tied over best win (Paula Badosa), Barty has the higher three-month UTR Rating and hard-court UTR Rating and better recent win-loss record.
No.1 Ashleigh Barty advances to her 2nd #AusOpen semifinal and 4th major semifinal overall.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 25, 2022
Has not lost a set en route. Lost 4 games in a set just once. Total games lost: 17.
Faces Madison Keys. Barty bidding to become the first 🇦🇺 woman to make the AO final since 1980. pic.twitter.com/2aoQlFfwEI
Barty had a phenomenal 2021 season, highlighted by a Wimbledon title, but Keys managed just 21 wins. To put her 2022 form into perspective, Keys has already matched that number of wins in the first few weeks of the season. Her 6-3, 6-2 win over 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova was her 10th win in a row after capturing the Adeliade title.
"I did everything I could to rest this offseason and focus on starting fresh and new ... starting from zero and not focusing on last year," Keys said on court. "I think it's going well so far."
Barty dismissed Jessica Pegula 6-0, 6-2 to reach her second Australian Open semifinal. She has lost just 17 games in five matches, and her closest match was a 6-4, 6-3 win over Amanda Anisimova, which was also her longest at 74 minutes. Her average time on court per match has been 61 minutes.
Keys and Barty will open the night session inside Rod Laver Arena at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. EST). It's their third career meeting although they haven't played since the 2019 French Open (which was a straight-set win for Barty).
(7) Iga Swiatek (13.09) vs. (27) Danielle Collins (12.97)
Barty and Keys will be well-rested for their encounter after having a day off. Swiatek and Collins have had no such luck. Collins ended Alize Cornet's career-best run 7-5, 6-1 while Swiatek toiled for just over three hours to top Kaia Kanepi, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.
As she left the court, the 20-year-old Pole wrote, "Thank you for the support. #Tired." Luckily, she's prepared for physical challenges such as these.
"I always felt prepared physically, and I know my pre-season was pretty hard," Swiatek said. "I'm going to see how the other factors are going to influence it, like the stress, because the recovery after practices – even if they are three-hour practices – and after a match, it's pretty different."
INSIGHTS gives Swiatek the advantage at 57%, bolstered by her higher UTR Ratings. The two have never played a completed match against each other and have identical win-loss records over the last 15 months (48-16). Collins is playing in her second Australian Open semifinal while Swiatek, the 2020 Roland Garros champion, is playing in her first.
The men's semifinals will take place on Friday (Thursday night in the U.S.) with No. 6 seed Rafael Nadal set to take on No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini and No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas looking to challenge No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev. Nadal and Berrettini will have had two days off while the bottom half of the draw played yesterday. Tstisipas dismissed No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner in straight sets and Medvedev came back from two sets down to subdue No. 17 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, Jan. 26, 2022.