AO 2013 Play-off men’s & women’s semifinal preview
It's men's and women's semifinals day as the Australian Open 2013 play-off hits the business end. Read our preview to find out about today's matches.
For two players a guaranteed wildcard entry into the Australian Open is only two wins away as semifinals action of the Australian Open 2013 Play-off gets underway Saturday.
The men had an extra day of rest after heavy rain suspended Friday’s play, no doubt a welcomed reward after brutal 35 degree conditions during their quarterfinals.
Now, at the pointy end of the Play-off, the stakes are higher than ever – a win equates to a spot in the final, the last hurdle before the coveted prize of a main draw berth at Melbourne Park in January.
Second seed John-Patrick Smith kicks off the day’s action at 10am when he takes on third seed Matt Reid on Court 6. Both men enter the semifinals in sound form after each overcoming a seeded opponent in the quarters.
Smith will relish from the extra day’s break after spending over three hours on court in the severe heat Wednesday where he knocked out former world No.179 Greg Jones in four sets.
Smith, 23, is looking for his inaugural appearance in the main draw of the Australian Open after bowing out in the first round of the qualifiers last January.
Reid’s road to the Play-off semifinals has been one of contrasts – after fighting through the opening round in a five-set battle (coming back from two sets down), he shook off any jitters in the quarters after storming past former boys’ world No.1 Luke Saville in straight sets.
But a more experienced opponent in Smith will be a welcomed challenge for 22-year-old. The pair played twice in 2012 in the United States and Netherlands, Smith winning both matches.
Also beginning at 10am is fifth seed Benjamin Mitchell taking on eighth seed Matthew Barton.
Perhaps no player was happier to see Melbourne Park drenched with rain on Friday than Barton, who scraped through a dramatic five-set match with youngster Nick Kyrgios in the quarterfinals, on court for just shy of four hours.
His opponent, 20-year-old Mitchell, overcame fourth seed Adam Feeney in four sets Wednesday. Both men admitted the punishing heat and new five-set format posed numerous challenges during their quarterfinal matches, affecting them mentally more so than physically.
Mitchell has the history behind him heading into the match, having beaten Barton in straight sets twice in the past two years.
The women’s action kicks off at the conclusion of the men’s matches featuring Victoria’s Arina Rodionova facing Bojana Bobusic on Court 6.
Bobusic enters the semifinals brimming with confidence after downing last year’s champion Ashleigh Barty in three sets Thursday. Like many of the players, Bobusic is looking for her maiden Australian Open main draw appearance.
Her opponent, 23-year-old Rodionova, is also carrying sound form having not dropped a set so far in the play-off. She cruised through her opening round 6-2 6-0 and overcame Jessica Moore 7-5 6-3 in the quarters.
The pair met at Traralgon earlier this year, Rodionova prevailing in three sets.
The final semifinal clash features third seed Monique Adamczak versus Victoria’s Tammi Patterson on Court 7.
Patterson was forced to finish her quarterfinal clash against 14-year-old Priscilla Hon Thursday on the indoor courts after continued rain disrupted play. The 22-year-old fought back after dropping the opening set to take the match and is the only unseeded player left in the women’s draw.
Adamczak may well be the most in-form player in the tournament, winning both her previous matches 6-2 6-4 in just over one hour. The most experienced player in the field, the 29-year-old is ranked almost 400 places above her opponent but hasn’t faced Patterson so far in 2012.
The first match begins at 10am on Court 6 with live streaming available via tennis.com.au
 John-Patrick Smith (QLD) v  Matt Reid (NSW)
 Arina Rodionova (VIC) v  Bojana Bobusic (WA)