Ekaterina Makarova (4) vs. Maria Sharapova (1/4)
What is surprising is the odds are not longer. Sharapova has downed her 26 year old fellow county woman all five times they have met, including two decisive wins at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013.
Maria has played better and more consistently than any other female competitor since back from 2 match points. Her dominance of Canadian 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard included 19 winners against 18 unforced errors. The 6 foot 2 inch grunter pushed her 5 foot 10 inch opponent around the court with surprising ease, completely unsettling Eugenie.
But, Makarova’s stunning upset of 3rd seeded Simona Halep was equally impressive as she subdued the young Romanian and overwhelmed her physically and mentally. The ten seed converted 5 of 6 break point opportunities and walked through the second set 6-0 after Simona raised the white emotional surrender flag. Ekaterina deserves kudos for her quarterfinal triumph but she does not have enough game to overcome the force of an oft-time Grand Slam champion and determined battler. Sharapova controls the pace of the match and adds another notch to her belt as she moves on to the finals with a good chance of winning in two sets.
Tomas Berdych (7/5) vs Andy Murray (8/11)
Watch out! These pair of high powered, very wealthy pros have not met since their hard court battle at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati in 2013. Berdych’s 6-3,6-2 win evened their hard court matches at 3 each. However, in ten career matches, Berdych holds a 6-4 edge.
Berdych downed Rafa Nadal in straight sets 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(5). Some experts feel the real Rafa never showed up but who knows how the 2015 version of Rafa Nadal will fare. Rafa may be concentrating on the clay court championship in Paris, not 100 percent and unwilling to risk losing more time this season. In any case, Berdych has been formidable at Melbourne. With no double faults and 10 aces, Berdych won this match with a powerful forehand and his 196 kmh serve. Berdych has revamped his training regimen, hiring Murray’s old trainer to get him game ready. Engaged this year, Tomas has everything working and will be hard to beat.
Murray’s quarterfinal win was more than a three set victory (6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3) over young Aussie Nick Kyrgios but also subdued a raucous crowd along the way. Murray has fans at Open and may have a larger share of the crowd on Day 11. Andy registered 13 aces against 1 double. The Scot appeared to have some left leg stiffness but played the big points deftly and returned serve with his usual effectively, converting 3 of 9 break opportunities. Berdych is moving better than ever before but I still like Murray’s shot-making in the clutch.