Aaron Ashley’s best semi-final bets include a marathon match for world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic has lifted the Australian Open title on 10 occasions, which includes on his last four visits, and he will be hoping to maintain his dominance down under in his semi-final showdown with impressive Italian Jannik Sinner.
The other last-four encounter pits two-time Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev against Carlos Alcaraz’s quarter-final conqueror Alexander Zverev, who is bidding to make his first Grand Slam final since the 2020 US Open.
Sinner’s serve should pose serious questions
Sinner is featuring in only his second ever Grand Slam semi-final and his initial experience was a harrowing one as Djokovic swatted him aside 6-3 6-4 7-6 at last season’s Wimbledon.
However, that should serve Sinner well for their rematch at Melbourne Park and five straight-set victories on his way to the last four will have him brimming with belief.
The Italian 22-year-old has been serving superbly and has been broken only twice in the tournament so far, which is made even more impressive by the fact he has faced two classy operators in Russian seeded duo Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has dropped sets in three of his five Australian Open assignments and that suggests he could be tested despite being on a 33-game winning run at Melbourne Park.
Sinner defeated the world number one twice on hard courts at the back end of last season, toppling him in the group-stage of the ATP Finals in Turin before repeating the feat in Italy’s Davis Cup triumph.
Both of those victories came in a deciding set, though, while at Wimbledon in 2022 the pair were involved in a five-set epic as Djokovic reigned supreme in the quarter-final.
With Sinner arguably performing better than ever before, this latest encounter may follow a similar pattern and over 39.5 games is the approach for punters to take.
Djokovic’s quarter-final win over Taylor Fritz lasted four sets yet featured 40 games, while the Serb’s earlier round victories over teenage qualifier Dino Prizmic and hometown hero Alexei Popyrin also went over the recommended total.
Zverev can build on Alcaraz display
Zverev produced one of the best performances of his career as he upset second seed Alcaraz in four sets and a similar serving display should see him master Medvedev.
The German has long been talked up as a future Grand Slam champion but has found things tough since finishing runner-up to Dominic Thiem at the US Open four years ago.
However, Zverev was breathtaking in the last eight against Alcaraz as he produced a first-serve percentage of 85 per cent and was broken only twice from the five break-point opportunities he faced.
When Zverev’s serve is on-song, he has the game to beat anybody and a reproduction of those quarter-final numbers would make life tough for his Russian rival.
Medvedev has endured plenty of nervy moments in this season’s Australian Open, dropping sets in four of his five wins and being involved in five-set epics with Emil Ruusuvuori and Hubert Hurkacz.
Zverev has also had to come through a couple of five-set thrillers with Lukas Klein and Cameron Norrie, but he appears to be growing in stature and his giant serve and potent backhand could be a real asset in the crunch moments.