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Australian Open Women's Singles Day 11: Repeat of 2016 unlikely for Kerber

2016 champion Angelique Kerber will struggle to sustain her current Australian Open level...
2016 champion Angelique Kerber will struggle to sustain her current Australian Open level...
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Thursday's action at the Australian Open sees both women's semi finals played, and both are fascinating encounters, for very different reasons. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews both of the matches on day eleven...

"Quite incredibly, Kerber has held serve 81.3% at Melbourne Park this year, breaking opponents 58.7% of the time, and this isn't just peak Kerber form, it's peak Serena Williams form, and I'd venture to suggest that this will be utterly unsustainable, even for a player who has often exhibited wildly varying levels."

Keys and Pliskova fail to impress in Wednesday eliminations

It was a poor day for us yesterday, in what has generally been a positive tournament, as one of our outright selections, Madison Keys, fell by the wayside. The American big-server was outclassed by Angelique Kerber in straight sets, while our recommendation of the day, Karolina Pliskova, succumbed to Simona Halep, without any considerable resistance.


Mertens facing the biggest match of her career

Therefore, the two semi-finals in the women's event are now set. First up, at around 3am UK time, Elise Mertens takes to the court in her first ever Grand Slam semi-final, and the Belgian talent faces our remaining outright selection, Caroline Wozniacki, who is a [1.47] favourite to make the final.

This match intrigues, with Mertens playing in the biggest match of her career, while Wozniacki has all the ability in the world - as evidenced by the fact that she's held serve 75.4% on hard court in the last 12 months, breaking opponents 43.9% (a world-class combined 119.3%) - but perhaps lacks the temperament to cope with the latter stages of big events.


Wozniacki with issues in finals, not semi-finals

Having said this, Wozniacki can dispute this assertion in semi-final matches, having won her last 11 semi-finals, and it is evident that the real problem she faces is actually taking the trophy in finals. In fact, Wozniacki was 2-7 in finals last year, and is 0-2 in Slam finals in her career, although it's fair to point out that in both of these finals, she was a heavy underdog, against Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, respectively.

My model priced Wozniacki at [1.57] so she does look a touch short at current market prices, but nothing worth acting on.


Halep value in second semi-final against Kerber

However, in the second semi-final, scheduled to follow immediately, there was a considerable discrepancy between the market and my model, with Simona Halep priced by my model at [1.73] to get past Angelique Kerber, but the Romanian is priced at [2.26] on the Exchange.

There is one obvious reason for this - my model looks at 12 month surface data, which does factor for some recency weighting, but not unduly so, and the market prices on Kerber are based on her incredible fortnight, which has seen her destroy the field, generating the most stunning data.


Kerber level this fortnight completely unsustainable

Quite amazingly, Kerber has held serve 81.3% at Melbourne Park this year, breaking opponents 58.7% of the time, and this isn't just peak Kerber form, it's peak Serena Williams form, and I'd venture to suggest that this will be utterly unsustainable, even for a player who has often exhibited wildly varying levels.

It increasingly looks like I'll be taking on the German, who took the title here in 2016, for the rest of the tournament, and at [2.28], Halep looks the bet on day 11.

***

Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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