Two years ago at Melbourne in their first career meeting, Murray was beaten by the world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-7(3-7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Murray would lose to Nadal in straight sets in their next four matches before Murray would turn the tables last September at the US Open semifinals where Murray defeated Nadal 6-2, 7-6(7-5), 4-6, 6-4.
Murray's New York City run came to an end however as he fell to world number two Roger Federer of Switzerland in the final. But Murray has defeated Federer in their last three matches and holds a rare head to head lead versus Federer 5-2.
Murray, noted for his punishing groundstokes and improving volley game, may not be as talented as Federer, but I think Murray may be fitter and will use his allcourt game to add a Melbourne championship to his victories already this year in Doha and Abu Dhabi.
In the women's field, the semifinals I think will feature the Serbian world number one Jelena Jankovic versus the 3rd seeded Dinara Safina of Russia with Safina reaching her second career grand slam final. Safina has the groundstokes to win the title. “Aggressive, aggressive” as she likes to say, but I don't think mentally she is there yet. Too often Safina suffers a mental letdown during a tough match much like her ATP Tour brother Marat Safin.
On the other half of the women's draw, the semifinals should feature the American sisters, Venus Williams and Serena Williams in a battle of grand slam title holders. Venus beat her sister in the 2008 Wimbledon final, while Serena defeated Venus in the 2008 US Open quarterfinals on her way to the championship title.
Venus and Serena both looked flat in their quarterfinal losses last year at Melbourne. But Venus won her last three events including WTA Tour stops last winter in Zurich and Doha and an exhibition earlier this month at Hong Kong where she defeated Jankovic 6-2, 6-2.
Venus, age 28, has eliminated the many of the unforced errors which sometimes counteract her explosive game while Serena this week at the Sydney semifinals lost to the fourth ranked Elena Dementieva of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in a flurry of errors.
In their US Open quarterfinal, Venus led in both sets before losing the match 7-6(8-6), 7-6(9-7) to a degree due to her tiebreak errors. Part of what makes the Williams sisters special is that they both can win a match or lose it with little to no help from their opponents. But Venus seems to be in more of a winning mood these days.