Three to See, Day 11: The women's semifinals and Djokovic vs. Federer

Three to See, Day 11: The women's semifinals and Djokovic vs. Federer

World No. 1 Ash Barty kicks Thursday's play off against Sofia Kenin, with Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep to follow.

Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer

The first question to ask is: Will Federer be able to play? He was hampered by a groin injury for much of his quarterfinal win over Tennys Sandgren.

Assuming he does play, the next question is: Will he be fit enough to give Djokovic a run, potentially over four or five sets? Even if Federer is feeling 100 percent, this is a big ask. Federer is 1-3 against Djokovic at the Australian Open, his only win coming back in 2007, when the Serb was 19 and they met in the round of 16. Perhaps more relevant, and more daunting for Federer, is Djokovic’s current form: he has looked even more clinical than usual in Melbourne, where he hasn’t dropped a set since the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Federer did win their last meeting, in two sets, with a blazingly aggressive performance on an indoor court at the ATP Finals in London. But he’ll probably need to be that good, over a longer period of time, to do it again, outdoors in Melbourne. Winner: Djokovic

Ash Barty vs. Sofia Kenin

Barty is 4-1 against Kenin, and with the entirety of Australia behind her, she’ll be heavily favored to make it 5-1. Barty is ranked 15 spots higher than the American, and she’s already won a major, the 2019 French Open. Kenin, meanwhile, will be playing her first Grand Slam semifinal.

Despite her higher seeding, Barty has had the tougher road in Melbourne. While Kenin has yet to face a seeded player, Barty has knocked off three of them: No. 29 Elena Rybakina, No. 18 Alison Riske and No. 7 Petra Kvitova. The upside for Kenin is that she will have much less to lose than Barty. The last time the Aussie tried to win one for her country at home, in the 2019 Fed Cup final, she came up painfully short.

But I think that experience will help Barty get the job done this time. Kenin is on the rise, and a tough competitor, but Barty has more ways to win. Winner: Barty

Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza

While the other women’s semifinal will have more local appeal, this one will feature two women who are almost sure to make the Hall of Fame one day.

Halep and Muguruza have each won two majors and spent time at No. 1. They’re also two players who make tennis better when they’re at their best. As for their record against each other, Muguruza leads 3-2; she has won all three of their hard-court matches, while Halep has won the two they’ve played on clay. Which means this should be a competitive and entertaining match between players with clearly contrasting styles—Muguruza likes to attack, Halep likes to defend.

It’s also a tough one to call. Both women have picked up with old coaches who helped them to Slam titles in the past—Darren Cahill is back with Halep, Conchita Martinez is back with Muguruza—and both women have looked rejuvenated so far in Melbourne. Halep was especially brilliant against Anett Kontaveit in the quarters. But I’ll take the player with the 3-0 record on hard courts. Winner: Muguruza