Australian Open

Australian Open Day 12 Tips: 7/4 Gauff can beat Sabalenka again

Sabalenka looking
Aryna Sabalenka is looking ahead to the final. Is that dangerous?

Tennis tipster Gavin Mair gives his opinion on the Women's Australian Open semifinals. Who will book their ticket into Saturday's final?

  • Form and performances favour Sabalenka

  • Gauff head-to-head and big match advantage

  • Another 3 setter possible for Zheng

The semi-finals of the women's draw are set and on one side, there is a quality encounter between two players expected to be here at the business end of the tournament. While the other semi will deliver a first major finalist.

Much of the instant social media reaction to Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka booking their semi-final date has been that this is the real final. These two contested a hard fought US Open final in the previous hard court Grand Slam, and find themselves again competing for major honours. What way will it go?

Will logic prevail?

If logic prevails, defending champion Aryna Sabalenka will win this match. The Belarusian has been impeccable, bulldozing her way through her draw. She has yet to drop more than three games in a set such has been her level.

Gauff has also made smooth progress but she struggled badly against Marta Kostyuk in the quarter-final in what was a very scrappy performance. It should not be forgotten however that this is how the American now approaches her tennis.

She is coached by Brad Gilbert, author of the book "Winning Ugly," and my word is that what she does sometimes.

Winning when the pressure is on is a special trait and it is the American teenager who most would agree stands clear of Sabalenka in that category. Their US Open final being a very good case in point.

Sabalenka dominated the opening set of their match... but then the finishing line appeared. The American sensed her opponent's nerves and would go on comfortably win the next two sets and capture a maiden Grand Slam.

It is the largest mental barrier holding Sabalenka back from a greater collection of major honours than the solitary Australian Open title in her possession. And that is why it would not surprise me to see Gauff win this match.

There is no doubting who has been the more impressive player to this point. However, you could say the same most weeks Sabalenka plays. Why should this be different? Gauff knows how to beat Sabalenka, winning four of their six career encounters.

As I stated in the tournament preview this is an incredibly difficult title to defend, and has not been done since Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013. This could be the moment where Sabalenka remembers what is on the line.

Conditions will be cooler than they were in the quarter-finals and in theory that favours the grafting game of Gauff rather than the dry heat that would amplify the Sabalenka power hitting.

If you are a firm believer in numbers as the basis for your bet then it has to be Sabalenka. But if you look deeper then Gauff holds appeal. That is what I'm going for here.

Back Coco Gauff to win at 7/42.75

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In the other semifinal Qinwen Zheng will take on Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska. Column backers bagged a welcome 13/53.60 winner when the Chinese took out Anna Kalinskaya in three entertaining sets.

I think we may well see a similar outcome in this semi-final, and it is certainly tempting at an odds-boosted 11/43.75 on the Betfair Sportsbook.

Similar match-up dynamics exist for this encounter as was explained in yesterday's preview.

The outcome largely depends on the Chinese player's serving performance. It was up and down against Kalinskaya today, as it has been consistently throughout this tournament.

Qinwen Zheng came through strongly in the end but in addition to wonky serving, she was tactically confused for much of the first two sets against Kalinskaya. She wasn't sure which buttons to push and when, until the final set at which point the Russian was out of gas.

Yastremska goes for her shots. She does not hold back, and that gives her a puncher's chance of landing a set when Qinwen's levels drop. The Ukrainian has played a lot of tennis - this will be her ninth match of the tournament having gone on a run from qualifying.

Qinwen should have too much for her, but this is a big match with much on the line and it is probably Yastremska's one big chance of her career to score a major title. She will throw her remaining ounces of energy at this.

Back Back Qinwen Zheng to win 2 sets to 1 @ 11/43.75

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