The semi finals of the penultimate Masters 1000 tournament of the season are all set for Saturday at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre in Shanghai.
And we approach them in good form after another two winners on Friday when Novak Djokovic beat Bernard Tomic in straight sets and Kevin Anderson and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went over 12.5 games in set one of their quarter final match.
Play starts a little later on Saturday at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, with Rafael Nadal taking on Tsonga at 09:30 UK time.
Rafael Nadal vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The first semi final features the 12th career meeting between Nadal and Tsonga – two players who have been out of sorts of late – so this is a welcome boost for them both, as they face off for the first time since the clay of Monte-Carlo back in 2013.
Nadal is here by virtue of a simple win over Stan Wawrinka, who clearly wasn’t in much of a physical condition to compete after a lot of tennis in the past 10 days; a tough three setter on Thursday and a shoulder problem.
So, it’s tough to really gauge the level of the Spaniard based on either that match or the win over another struggling player in Milos Raonic the previous round.
But Nadal won’t be concerned about the manner in which he achieved those victories and it’s undoubtedly a boost for his confidence that he defeated Stan and Milos in straight sets.
Tsonga landed the 2.60 odds for us on Friday when he and Anderson went to the tie break in set one, but it should have been the South African that won it, leading as he did 6-3 in that breaker.
Anderson failing to see it out was probably the key to the match and Tsonga went on to edge a clash in which he scored two fewer points than his opponent overall.
Having been extended to three sets in three of his four matches here in Shanghai this week fatigue could be an issue for the Frenchman in this clash with Nadal, which is the first on a hard court between the pair since the 2012 Miami Open.
The fast conditions here in Shanghai should suit the big-serving Tsonga, but he doesn’t have much of a record against Nadal, with eight losses from their 11 career meetings, and if I were siding with him today I’d be looking at the 2-0 at 5.0.
But I’m not sure I see it happening and I prefer either the tie break played at 1.71; set one over 10.5 games at 2.38, or over 2.5 sets at 2.38.
There have been seven tie breaks in total in their 11 prior meetings and 1.71 seems a reasonable enough price about one occurring here, but in quick conditions breaks should be at a premium between these two and the set one overs look the one.
Seven on Tsonga’s last nine matches have gone over 10.5 games in set one, while five of Nadal’s last nine against the big servers on my list have done the same.
If Tsonga serves somewhere approaching his best the over 10.5 looks decent value at 2.38.
I don’t really like the idea of Nadal at 1.44, although he probably will find a way to win it. The Spaniard has been that price on hard courts three times this season and won two of them. All three have been tight, three set affairs and there may not be too much between them again.
Value bet: Back over 10.5 games in set one at 2.38