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  • Chris sobey

Tennis


This year’s Australian Open has produced some of the biggest shocks and upsets of any Grand Slam in history and there's still a chance that the men’s and women's finals could be won and contested by some of the oldest players in the modern era. Andre Agassi was the oldest male player in the modern era to win a Grand Slam when he won the Australian Open aged 32 and Martina Navratilova was the oldest women in the modern era when she won the last of her nine Wimbledon titles aged 33.

After 6 months off to recover from injury no one except those close to him and the most loyal of his fans would have expected that Roger Federer aged 35 could be in with the chance of adding to his record 17 Grand Slam titles this fortnight. However, he is one match away from contesting a sixth Australian Open final and I for one won’t be writing him off becoming the oldest male winner of a Grand Slam since Ken Roswell won this tournament in 1972 aged 37.

The way Federer has so effortlessly rewritten tennis history during his glittering career seems to be encapsulated in his play over the last week, which has been so composed and clinical, and at no stage has he ever looked like he was going to lose. He will draw a huge amount of confidence from his performances over the last nine days, and even more from his head-to-head and psychological advantage over compatriot Wawrinka (advised 16/1), who he has only lost to on clay.

Wawrinka came through the potentially tricky encounter against Tsonga with flying colours winning in straight sets yesterday, and for those who backed him outright as advised and have not yet covered their outright stakes or hedged a profit/cashed out you can do so before their semi-final match on Thursday morning. Alternatively, you can wait and see what happens in play and do the same if the chance arises, or if you feel confident Wawrinka can do produce the type of performance that won him the title here in 2014, the French Open in 2015 and US Open last year then you can sit back and cheer him on to reach the final, which guarantees a profit if he wins or loses.

By the time you read this article my other outright selection Dimitrov (advised 66/1) will have hopefully overcome Goffin and reached the semi-finals, where he will face either Raonic or Nadal, who were due to play at 8.30am this morning. Hopefully, Raonic (11/4), who I advised to win the Third Quarter, will have repeated his Brisbane quarter-finals win against Nadal and made it through to the semis. If he wins and faces Dimitrov in the semi’s the omens could well be on our side as the young Bulgarian leads their head-to-head 4-1, which includes three wins in Australia at Brisbane in 2013 and 2017 and the Australian Open in four sets in 2014.

Like the men's draw the women’s is also shaping up with the possibility of creating history on a number of levels, including age as the Williams sisters, Venus aged 36 and Serena aged 35, and Lucic-Baroni aged 34 are still on course to reach the finals and become the oldest female Grand Slam, finalist and/or winner in the history of the game.

By the time you read this article Lucic-Baroni’s fate will be known as she faced my one remaining outright selection Pliskova (9/1) this morning, and hopefully the Czech number one will have done the business for us and made it through to the semi’s where she will face either Serena or Konta, who also played this morning.

Venus Williams is already through to the semi-finals where she will face compatriot and the surprise package of this year’s tournament Coco Vandeweghe, who steamrollered seventh seed Muguruza yesterday 6-4 6-0. I would love Venus to reach the final from a sentimental perspective however, Vandeweghe looked exceptionally good against Kerber and Muguruza and if the occasion and nerves don’t get the better of her, I see her winning this and making her first Grand Slam final.

It would be an outstanding achievement if one and/or both the Williams sisters reached the final on Saturday and if they do they would become the oldest player and/or players to contend a Grand Slam final in the history of the game, as well as becoming the oldest female player ever to win a Grand Slam. Serena would also get the chance to win her 23rd Grand Slam title and break the modern era all-time record currently held by her and Steffi Graff.

However, from a patriotic perspective, it would be great to see Konta reach the semi-finals again and even better have a British representative in the final on Saturday, especially after Murray blew his chance to win a first Australian Open title. If Konta does reach the final and/or win she will become the first British women to do so since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.


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