Four time Australian champ Roger Federer and 2008 Australian champ Novak Djokovic (above).

With Rafael Nadal’s surprise loss to David Ferrer last night (more on that to come), and with Andy Murray looking shaky against impressive Alexander Dolgopolov who was the 1st player he faced so far to give him a test in Melbourne, both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, set to square off early tomorrow, are staring opportunity in the face.  Federer, who opened at – 235 on the money line, with Djokovic at + 185, has seen the odds shift slightly in his favor today.  The odds are now:

Federer:  – 240 (wager 240 units to win 100 plus initial wager)

Djokovic:  + 180 (wager 100 units to win 180 plus initial wager)

Federer is 13-6 lifetime in the head to head, but discounting the first 3 matches and the last 3, is only 7-6.  The biggest match they’ve had in recent history was at the US Open, where Djokovic came from 2 sets to 1 and beat Roger in 5 sets for the first time ever.  Federer served horribly in that match, and didn’t return much better.  He couldn’t have played a worse match, frankly.  To us, he seemed satisfied to return to the final 4 of a major, after his streak was snapped by Soderling in Paris, and was upset by Berdych at Wimbledon.

We don’t want to jinx anything, but we see a different player out there right now.  Actually, 2 different players.  Djokovic has played phenomenal tennis this year, has his serve back on track, and gained a lot of confidence from winning the Davis Cup.  Federer looked shaky to some earlier in the week, but to us, we like what we see.  The Simon match?  Federer did not play badly.  Playing the world #6 in round 2 (Simon might be 39th right now, but at his best was up to #6, and he has returned to that form) was the toughest matchup perhaps that any of the top players faced in rounds 1-4.  Federer destroyed Wawrinka Monday night, displaying his best form in months.  And his form hasn’t been bad at all.  Paul Annacone has made a definite impression on Roger.  The great man has won 27 of his last 28, and won Doha, the YEC, and Basel, and Stockholm this past fall and in the new year, while losing 1 match back in October to Monfils in Paris.  Last week, Simon assaulted Federer’s backhand, in some rallies, going 8 or 9 rally strokes straight to Roger’s weaker wing.  And it held up.  Federer kept hitting backhands, kept his errors down, and took an impressive 46/64 points at net–one of the most prolific matches Roger has played at the net in years.

Djokovic has good odds tonight for a reason.  He has defeated Roger twice in the semi-finals of majors and knows his game intimately.  He has notched 5 wins versus Roger on hardcourts, and is 1-1 versus Federer in his career in Melbourne.

As for the ladies, they will begin soon on ESPN2.  We think both lines are very curious and disrespectful to established talent.  First of all, in the first semi, world #1, Caroline Wozniacki is actually underdog to 9th seed Li Na.  Here are the odds:

Na Li:  – 125 (wager 125 units to win 100 units plus initial wager)

Caroline Wozniacki:  + 105 (wager 100 units to win 105 units plus initial wager)

In the second semi…

Kim Clijsters:  – 160 (wager 160 units to win 100 units plus initial wager)

Vera Zvonareva: + 140 (wager 100 units to win 140 units plus initial wager)

We love Vera and Wozniacki tonight.  Both are due to break through.  Frankly, if Wozniacki can’t break through against Li Na, then it’s not happening.  Zvonareva was slaughtered at the USO by Clijsters in the final.  What’s changed since then?  Well, Clijsters looked vulnerable for the first time in ages the other night, and Vera continues to improve.  We think Vegas took note.  Clijsters is a player who frequently breaks down, and she has played a lot of tennis now in the last year and a half.  Agnes Radwanska gave her a real tussle the other night, and we see her as a pop gun player with no weapons of note.  She had Clijsters on her heels at times, and had she pulled out the close 2nd set tie-breaker, we think she’d have won the match.

Zvonareva has now finaled at two straight majors.  She’s knocking on the door.  Let’s see her kick it in.  We do not like Clijsters, and we have always appreciated Zvonareva, and love the fact that she is an excellent doubles player and a major doubles champion.

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