Men's 2014 Australian Open Semi-Final Tennis Picks

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 7:50 PM GMT

It’s Rafa vs. Roger again, one of the best rivalries in sports today. So who will win this latest instalment of their highly anticipated semi-final clash Down Under. Find out what odds are currently in swing and what tennis picks we’ve served up for your consideration.

Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka hope to make it an all-Swiss final in Melbourne but Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych will attempt to crash that party. So how will the Men’s Australian Open final matchup take shape?

If sportsbooks were any indication, Nadal vs. Wawrinka at +150 at Bet365 is the favoured outcome, closely followed by Nadal vs. Berdych at +225 tennis odds. The all-Swiss affair meanwhile is listed at +350 while Federer vs. Berdych is the long shot final scenario at +450 at Bet365.

So do the odds makers have it right? Here’s a preview of the much-anticipated semi-final complete with tennis free picks for your consideration.

Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
Match Time: 3:00 AM EST Friday January 24, 2014

Tennis Betting Verdict

It’s Rafa vs. Roger again, one of the tennis rivalries, not to mention best in sports all together. However, in recent years Rafa has dominated this rivalry wholeheartedly, extending his head-to-head record over the Swiss maestro to 22-10 lifetime, which includes an incredible 8-2 record over Federer at the majors and a 2-0 record at the Australian Open – beating Federer in an epic five-set final in 2009 and in four sets in the 2012 Australian Open semis. The only major where Federer has been successful over Nadal is Wimbledon.

Predictably, sportsbooks send Nadal into this clash as the solid favourite however the market isn’t as lopsided as one might expect given their head-to-head, especially Rafa’s dominance over Fed at the majors. Nadal is listed at -188 to win outright and Federer at the disadvantage at +150.

Actually it’s a tight tennis betting line with plenty angles of profit, namely because either player could advance. More specifically, the idea that Federer could finally get one over Nadal at the majors is gaining traction in sports betting circles for several reasons a) Federer’s form and b) Nadal’s blisters and c) changed conditions at the Australian Open.

Federer is enjoying sublime form right now, seemingly tapping into “vintage Federer” – the dominant player whose brand of effortless form was the envy of all in his heyday. He made light work of what was supposed to be a tough draw with Tsonga and Murray in his path to the semis – beating the former in straight sets and the latter in four.

Federer looms dangerous for Nadal who, though sporting good form as well, is having to play with nasty blisters on his hand that clearly were a factor in his last two matches, making him less effective on serve and his ground strokes less penetrating.

Finally, the Australian Open courts are playing faster this year. And the tournament changed the tennis balls to a lighter brand, which only just adds to the speed of the game. There is also the fact that Federer has changed his equipment, opting for a slightly bigger racquet with a sturdier frame. The new racquet allows him to absorb and create pace better and defend and attack more effectively.

The sum of all the above: advantage Federer, which, arguably, makes him a sound tennis pick at +150 tennis odds.

That said if there were a player that could will his way to victory, despite the elements and conditions, it’s Nadal. He’s won titles before without his best game on hand. Case-and-point Down Under: his wins over Nishikori and Dimitrov in the last two rounds, despite struggling with blisters, underscore that preternatural ability to compete even when his game fails him. What’s more, Nadal has been Federer’s kryptonite in recent years and knowing how to pick apart Fed’s game (even the new Fedberg’s game) will only serve him well when they clash in the semis for a spot in the final.

Tennis Betting Verdict

Theoretically, this match could go either way. Federer, under new coach Edberg, is enjoying “vintage Federer” renaissance and, as such, he can’t be written off. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that he hasn’t matched up well against Nadal in recent years, which in turn can play on a players mind.

While Nadal has the overwhelming edge over Federer he can’t take anything for granted. Fact is, his blisters are hindering his game, particularly his serve. Beating up-and-comers Nishikori and Dimitrov while clearly not 100% is one thing. To do so against Federer is entirely another. Nevertheless, sportsbooks across the board are backing Nadal now as the odds-on favourite to win outright at  -120. And that vote of confidence is telling.

Free Tennis Picks: Nadal to beat Federer at -188 at Bet365