Australian Open odds: Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal

Arguably the best men’s tennis rivalry in history is renewed early Friday morning U.S. time in Melbourne as Roger Federer looks to end his drought of reaching the finals of Grand Slam events by facing world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, with the winner likely to be a huge favorite over fellow finalist Stanislas Wawrinka. Nadal is -165 on WagerWeb to beat Federer (+125).

Federer rekindled his dominance over Andy Murray in Grand Slam matches and advanced to his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win Wednesday. Federer clinched the victory on his third match point with an ace to set up a showdown with top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Murray, who saved two match points in the third-set tiebreaker, has an 11-10 edge over Federer in head-to-head matches and won their last match in five sets in the Australian Open semifinals last year, but Federer has won four of five matches in majors. The victory over Murray on Wednesday night was Federer’s biggest since defeating Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final.

In the earlier match in Rod Laver Arena, Nadal received treatment several times for a nasty-looking blister on the palm of his left hand that he said caused him to serve slower than usual. He fended off three set points in the third, including two in the tiebreaker, and won on his first set point.

Against Nadal, who owns a 22-10 advantage in their head-to-head series (including 7-2 on outdoor hard courts and 8-2 in Grand Slams, all finals), Federer faces a player who dropped his first set in the tournament in the quarterfinals, but as has always been his trademark, did what he had to do to win. Now two matches shy of becoming the only man in the Open era to win each of the four Grand Slams at least two times each, the tournament’s top seed simply outworked his 22-year-old opponent Dimitrov.

“He’s been tough to play against, no doubt,” Federer said of Nadal. “I’m happy I get a chance to play him in a Slam again. I don’t remember the last time we played. … The head-to head record is in his favor. I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan [Edberg], because when we spoke together, you know, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa as well.”

Of their 32 matches, 28 have been in semifinals or finals, with one more on the way. They’ve battled 10 times at Grand Slam tournaments, 16 times at Masters events and five times at the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. This will be their first showdown at a Slam since Nadal’s four-set victory in the 2012 Australian Open semifinals.

No. 8 Wawrinka, Federer’s countryman and friend, defeated No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) on Thursday to make his first Grand Slam final. Wawrinka also upset three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka booked a spot in his first final in his 36th Grand Slam appearance.

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Australian Open men’s quarterfinals: Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer

It’s a terrific quarterfinals matchup late Tuesday night USA time at the first grand slam event of the tennis season, the Australian Open, as Roger Federer and Andy Murray face off, with the winner likely to then play world No. 1 Rafael Nadal for a spot in the finals. Federer is a -135 favorite against Murray on WagerWeb. It will be the first time they’ve played since last year’s semifinal at Melbourne Park, a five-set battle won by Murray.

When the tournament started a week ago, sixth-seeded Federer was not among the favorites to win. But his return to Melbourne has marked a return of the old Federer — his graceful strokes and his ability to make incredible shots look effortless. In addition, his back is better, he’s testing out a new racket with a bigger head and has a new coach, six-time Grand Slam winner Stefan Edberg. Federer has also been trying out some different tactics successfully, like rushing to the net. In his fourth-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer came to net 41 times and won 82 percent of those points.

Last year Federer won just a single tournament. He failed to advance to the quarterfinals in Wimbledon or in the United States Open. He did not advance to a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002.

“I’ve played him around 20 times,” said the Scot, who leads their head-to-head 11-9. “You know how you need to play against him, and you know tactically the things that work and the things that don’t work.”

What Murray can certainly expect is an opponent keen to get to the net at every opportunity, something Federer, 32, has done 112 times in four matches, compared to 54 from Murray.

Federer is averaging 114 mph on his first serve for the tournament, and 94 mph on his second serve. Murray is averaging 110 mph on his first serve and 83 mph on his second serve. Federer has made 75% of his returns, Andy Murray has made 83%, Federer has spent 7hrs 6mins on court, Murray has spent 8hrs 25mins

In the other quarter-final, Grigor Dimitrov – who has been in excellent form, although he took four sets to beat the unseeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut – will play Nadal, who struggled to get past the 16th seed, Kei Nishikori, in three tight sets that took three hours and 17 minutes. Nadal admitted: “I was in trouble. I was close to losing every set.” Nadal is a huge -1350 favorite for the match. With Novak Djokovic having been eliminated in his quarterfinal, the tournament is now Nadal’s to lose.

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Roger Federer a No. 7 seed for upcoming U.S. Open

The final tennis Grand Slam event of the year, the United States Open, begins Monday in New York. That Novak Djokovic was the top men’s seed was no surprise at all, but it’s quite surprising to see all time Slams leader Roger Federer way down at No. 7.

Federer has slipped from fifth to seventh in the ATP Tour world rankings, his lowest position in 11 years. The 17-time Grand Slam champion was defeated in the quarter-finals of the Western and Southern Open by rival foe Rafael Nadal last week. That meant Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, both of whom reached the last four in Cincinnati, moved above Federer.

It has been a forgettable year for the former world No 1, who is enduring his worst season since before he won his first grand slam at Wimbledon a decade ago. This is the first time he has been seeded outside the top three at a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2003. . Federer, who has won five of his 17 grand slam titles at Flushing Meadows, could, in a worst-case scenario face one of the top three seeds in the quarterfinals, semis and final.

Federer just turned 32, which is pretty much the end of the road for major singles champions. Andre Agassi was 32 when he won his last major, the 2003 Australian Open, where, through a quirky series of events, he didn’t have to face a single player in the Top 10. Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors were 31 when they held up major trophies for the last time. Goran Ivanisevic was 29 when he won Wimbledon, his one and only Slam title.

Djokovic is No. 1. He has reached the semifinals of the US Open in each of the last six years, making the final four times and winning it all in 2011. Djokovic was in last year’s final, but lost in five sets to Murray, who became the first British player since 1977, and first British man since 1936, to win a grand slam tournament with the victory. Apart from Roger Federer, who won five in succession between 2004 and 2008, only Pat Rafter (1997-98) and Pete Sampras (1995-96) have won the U.S. Open in back-to-back years.

Murray is seeded third in the men’s draw after Nadal, who won the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, moved above him to second in the world rankings. The highest-seeded American man is John Isner, who beat Djokovic in Cincinnati before falling to Nadal in the final. Isner is seeded No. 13.

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Roger Federer’s Wimbledon chances improve with Nadal loss

Everyone was anticipating a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal quarterfinal showdown at Wimbledon, but Nadal’s stunning loss Monday opens the door for Federer to potentially cruise into the semifinals against, likely, Andy Murray. Of course Federer beat Murray in four sets last year for his seventh Wimbledon title, tied with Pete Sampras for the most all-time.

Nadal was shocked by the 135th-ranked player in the world, Steve Darcis. Darcis was able to overpower Nadal, blasting 13 aces and scoring 53 winners to Nadal’s 32. He had the Spanish star running like a gazelle from one side of the court to the other, and Nadal simply couldn’t keep up with the frantic pace. The straight-sets victory by Darcis marked the first time in Nadal’s prodigious career that he’s lost in the first round of a Grand Slam event.

Federer no doubt was pleased as he hasn’t beaten Rafa at a major since 2007. Federer routed No. 48-ranked Victor Hanescu of Romania, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in just more than an hour with a scintillating display of all-court domination on Monday.

It was vintage Federer dismantling a worthy opponent in the opening match on Centre Court, courtesy of being the defending gentlemen’s champion. Federer’s swing that did most of the damage, with almost half (14) of his total winners coming from the forehand. Federer’s forehand accounted for eight ground stroke winners, three passing shot winners, two approach winners and even a drop shot winner for good measure. Federer also dominated coming forward; he won 84 percent (21/25) of approaching points, including five forehand volley winners and one backhand volley winner.

Now the Swiss star faces Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky on Wednesday, with Federer a mammoth favorite on WagerWeb.com. Stakhovsky, No. 116 in the world, has an excellent backhand and loves to pressure the net. Stakhovsky has equaled his best Wimbledon performance in reaching the second round (which he also did in 2011) and is not to be taken lightly. The two have faced off just once, a 6-3, 6-4 Federer win on the hardcourts of Dubai in 2011. Stakhovsky has won just four career singles titles and not since 2010.

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Wimbledon semifinals: Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic

Is Friday’s Wimbledon semifinal match between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Roger Federer the de-facto championship match? Most people think so. Djokovic, the defending Wimbledon champ, is a slight favorite on WagerWeb.com.

Federer, who lost in the quarterfinal rounds the last two years — losses that fed speculation that Federer would not win a 17th major title — moved into his eighth Wimbledon semifinal with a dispassionate dismantling of 26th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, on Centre Court in 1 hour 32 minutes. Federer is looking for a seventh Wimbledon title, which would tie Pete Sampras’ record.

Playing at almost the same time on Court 1, top-seeded and defending champion Novak Djokovic was almost as dominant against an equally overmatched opponent with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 win over 31st-seeded German Florian Mayer in 1:45.

Federer, who turns 31 in August, has been plagued by a dodgy back for several years now. It came into play in his previous match against Xavier Malisse, requiring a consultation with both a trainer and a doctor. Federer’s movement has been limited ever so slightly and the back has been a leading factor.

Against Youzhny, it didn’t seem to limit him.

“My back is holding up,” Federer said. “I could focus on tennis again, on tactics I wanted to play, instead of focusing on how to manage little issues or big issues, whatever you want to call them.”

Federer has now beaten the Russian in all 14 of their matches. Youzhny has won all of three sets in 35 opportunities. It should be noted, however, that Youzhny’s wife, Yulia, gave birth to their second son last night, hours before he took the court.

For the last 18 months the No. 1-ranked Djokovic has been the winner of four majors, unable only to conquer clay court at the French Open. Last year Federer beat Djokovic in the semifinals in Paris and this year Nadal beat him in the finals.

Federer leads the 25-year-old Serb 14-12 in career meetings but Federer has lost six of his last seven matches against Djokovic. Possibly the most devastating was at the U.S. Open in 2011 when Federer held two match points on his serve in the fifth set but lost, 6-7, (7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. But the two have never played on Wimbledon’s grass, the place where Federer’s precise tennis has been most rewarded.

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Wimbledon quarterfinals: Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Youzhny

Roger Federer, who is looking for his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title, fought off the effects of back trouble to reach the quarterfinals at the 2012 Championships by defeating 31-year-old Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6, 6-1,4-6, 6-3. Federer’s reward is a date against another player in the 30-and-over age bracket doing well at Wimbledon this year, Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Federer is a huge favorite on WagerWeb.com.

Federer has seldom been slowed by health issues, but he briefly left the court Monday because of a back injury and had spectators wondering whether he would return. After an eight-minute delay, Federer resumed whacking winners and went on to beat frequent foil Malisse. The 16-time Grand Slam champion reached his 33rd consecutive major quarterfinal, extending his Open era record.

Federer’s back began bothering him early in his match. He blamed the cool, windy weather and the lingering effects of an arduous five-set win over Julien Benneteau three days earlier. Federer’s serve lacked its usual speed, but his play seemed otherwise unaffected by the bothersome back. An hour after the victory, he said he already felt much better.

“Honestly I’m not too worried,” he said.

On Wednesday he’ll play No. 26-seeded Youzhny, who edged Denis Istomin 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5. Federer improved to 10-1 against Malisse. He’s 13-0 against Youzhny.

Federer and Youzhny just played in the Gerry Weber Wimbledon warm-up tournament in mid-June, with Federer spanking the Russian 6-1, 6-4 to reach the final (where Federer lost). Youzhny has won three of the 32 sets they’ve played against each other.

“I never beat this guy,” Youzhny said, “so just now I can’t talk like about my dreams, what I have to do on court to beat Roger.”

Six times Youzhny had tried to reach Wimbledon’s quarterfinals. Six times he had failed before Monday to become the first man from his country to reach the last eight here since Marat Safin in 2008. Youzhny is a good grass player who has been unlucky in the past in the fourth round. Twice he has faced Rafael Nadal and once each Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter at the peak of their powers.

A Federer victory sets up a likely semifinal match against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is a big favorite for his quarterfinal match Wednesday vs. Florian Mayer.

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Australian Open men’s semifinals: Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal

The best rivalry in tennis for the past decade or so resumes in the semifinals of the Australian Open when third-seeded Roger Federer and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal meet for a spot in Sunday’s final. It’s the 27th time these two Hall of Famers will have met. Federer opened as the slight -115 tennis bets favorite on WagerWeb.com for Thursday night’s match in Melbourne.

Four-time Australian Open champion Federer advanced to his ninth straight semifinal at Melbourne Park with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal win Tuesday over Juan Martin del Potro, the man who beat him for the U.S. Open title in 2009. It was the 1,000th match in Federer’s pro career and he has yet to drop a set here in 2012. Nadal took 4 hours and 16 minutes to beat Tomas Berdych 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-3, reach his 18th major semifinal.

Federer and Nadal – they were ranked 1-2 for many years – have been on opposite halves of the draw since the 2005 French Open. That was the last time the pair met in a Grand Slam semifinal, won that year by Nadal in four sets.

Nadal takes a 17-9 lifetime edge into Thursday’s match, including a 7-2 edge and a four-match winning streak in the majors. The last time Federer emerged victorious on the Grand Slam stage was the 2007 Wimbledon final, and it’s a trend he badly wants to reverse.

Nadal handed Federer two of his toughest losses, triumphing in arguably the greatest match of all time at Wimbledon in 2008 and repeating his five-set heroics at the ensuing Australian Open. Few thought Nadal had it in him in 2009, given he had contested a five-hour, 14 minute marathon against Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals two days before. Federer enjoyed an extra day of rest back then.

“We played a lot of matches against each other, in very important moments for our careers and very high moments,” said Nadal, a 10-time Grand Slam champion. “So the match is special.”

They played four times last year, with Nadal winning in the semifinals in Miami and Madrid and in the final of the French Open. But Federer stopped the streak emphatically when he dismantled Nadal, 6-3, 6-0, in the round-robin phase of the ATP World Tour Finals in November. Federer, not Nadal, has been on the much bigger roll of late. He has not lost since the semifinals of last year’s United States Open, winning his last 24 matches. His only blemish came when he retired before the semifinals in Doha with his back problems.

“Even if it’s not a final, it’s still a huge match,” Federer said.

The winner faces the Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray winner on Saturday night U.S. time.

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Djokovic, Murray look to join Australian Open semifinals

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have advance to the semifinals of the first tennis Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, and now top-seeded Novak Djokovic, the WagerWeb.com tournament tennis bets favorite, and No. 4 Andy Murray look to join Rafa and Federer when they take the court late tonight U.S. time Down Under.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 and defending champion, takes on fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain. Djokovic was pushed in his last match by Aussie Lleyton Hewitt. Up two sets and 3-0 in the third, the wheels came off. Djokovic was stretched to four sets and even had to fend off a break point in the infancy of the fourth when the score was tied. He finally put the banged-up Hewitt away 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.

Djokovic’s serve and forehand, in particular, tailed off. In the first two sets, he made a combined five forehand unforced errors. The number rose to 14 in the last two. His first-serve percentage fell in the middle of the third, and overall Djokovic was broken four times.

Djokovic’s next opponent, Ferrer, is similar to Hewitt: He hustles for every ball and is a fine returner. But at this juncture of their careers, he’s better than Hewitt. Mind you, Ferrer won’t be the overwhelming crowd favorite Wednesday, as “Rusty” was.

Ferrer topped Djokovic at the year-end championships in London in December, and even if the Serb was fatigued, Ferrer will take confidence from the 6-3, 6-1 victory indoors. That result allowed Ferrer, a semifinalist in Melbourne last year, to edge closer in their head to heads. He trails 6-5.

Murray, seeded fourth and looking for his third straight trip to the finals of this tournament, faces No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nishikori’s defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga moved him into his first grand slam quarter-final and also made him the first Japanese male to make it into the last eight at the Australian Open in 80 years. Before Nishikori, Shuzo Matsuoka was the only Japanese player to reach the latter stages of a Grand Slam event, when he made the 1995 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Murray beat the 22-year-old Nishikori 6-0 6-3 in the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters in 2011 in the pair’s only previous match.

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