Semi-final action is the order of the day in Sydney and Auckland in the early hours of Friday morning in week two of the 2014 ATP World Tour.
Dmitry Tursunov landed a nice odds-against winner for this column yesterday when he took down Denis Istomin in straight sets, while my wager on a 2-1 win for Philipp Kohlschreiber over John Isner was very unfortunate.
The German lost out in a final set tie breaker to the big American, who served incredibly well and managed to limp over the line on his suspect ankle after almost two-and-a-half hours of play that featured zero breaks of serve.
Tonight’s semi-finals are ones for the night owls and early risers, with all of the matches beginning in the early hours at both venues.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs Dmitry Tursunov (BET and STREAM LIVE on Unibet TV from 02.35 GMT)
First up at the Apia International is Del Potro taking on Tursunov and again this will be a decent test for Delpo, who once more went past the overs last night as expected against Radek Stepanek.
The number one seed is still a little rusty and the 1.26 about him winning here is of no interest against an opponent who has the weapons to at least trouble the Argentine and who has won the title here in the past.
The pair met last summer on hard in Cincy and Tursunov took a set that day and his serve can keep him in it for long enough for the over 22.5 games to be of interest. Delpo will see this as a tune up for Melbourne and he’ll be happy for the court time ahead of next week. The Delpo 2-1 win is also one for the shortlist at 3.65.
The second semi features defending champion Bernard Tomic facing qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky at around 5.30am UK time and early risers will look to the Aussie to land the odds at around the 1.4 mark. The Ukrainian is yet to drop a set here this week though and I would prefer the 1.67 about Stako +1.5 sets.
Over in Hobart David Ferrer ground out a hard fought win over compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in three sets and admitted to being tired after another tough match.
Ferrer does seem to have the ability to ignore fatigue though and he’ll fancy his chances against Yen-Hsun Lu, but the Chinese has troubled the top seed whenever they’ve met, with Lu taking a set here last year and grabbing a win over Ferrer by retirement in Beijing two years ago.
That match takes place at around 4am UK time before the second semi at around 6am, which features Isner dragging his creaking body into what looks another tough match.
John Isner vs Roberto Bautista-Agut (BET and STREAM LIVE on Unibet TV from 03.05 GMT)
Isner is going above and beyond the call of duty here this week and again it’s highlighted why the big man has no chance of ever landing a major title.
The vast majority of his matches do go the distance and if he’s doing it the week before a slam too his body has little opportunity of recovering.
His opponent today handled a similar type of threat in Jack Sock very well indeed last night in a rain affected encounter and I see no reason why RBA can’t make Isner go long again tonight.
The Spaniard made the American go three in similar conditions in Beijing at the end of last season and he’s playing well enough to cause Isner problems again in this meeting.
Of Isner’s 52 best of three set matches at tour level last season 33 of them went over the 24.5 total games mark, which is today’s bar and several of the others were close, so the 1.85 about it happening again seems value on those figures.
If Isner is struggling with the ankle a retirement will void the bet if it happens early enough, so it’s a fairly safe option and mathematically the best choice.
Back over 24.5 total games in Isner vs Bautista-Agut at 1.85
Read more from Unibet columnist Sean Calvert.