The match between Daniel Brands and Juan Martin Del Potro was going along as expected for the opening nine games until the German threw in an absolute shocker of a service game to allow Delpo to break for the set. Brands was never the same player after that and he crumbled to defeat in an awful second set display in which Delpo was required only to keep the ball in play.
Elsewhere it was a fairly routine day for the favourites as Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer all progressed without coming close to losing a set, giving the semi-finals a predictable look. I don’t see an upset coming in the opening match of the day in Dubai where an in-form Djokovic should be too strong for Del Potro, but Berdych may well test Federer in the second semi-final.
But for me the interest today lies elsewhere, with Nico Almagro taking on Rafa Nadal in Acapulco and there are several options that appeal in Delray Beach too.
Nadal is still on the comeback trail at the moment and is way too short at 1.16 to beat Almagro, who, if he can overcome the mental barrier of a 0-8 record against his compatriot, could be in with a shot today.
In Delray Beach, Ernests Gulbis was the beneficiary of yet another appalling choke from Sam Querrey – a man who has form for buckling when well in control of matches – this time from 4-0 up in the decider to lose it in a breaker. Gulbis takes on fellow qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava tonight and this is just the sort of match that Gulbis will probably lose. The 1.17 about him is a bet I wouldn’t touch under any circumstances.
There is also the option of siding with Kevin Anderson at around 1.94 against John Isner in the late match - one that will almost certainly go long. Six of the last seven sets they’ve played against each other (including Hopman Cup) have gone to tie breaks and consequently the total games mark has been set at 25.5 games. For me Anderson looks the man to back in that one.
But the two bets I like the most today are for Almagro to beat Nadal with a 4.5 game start on the handicap at 2.08 and Ricardas Berankis to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin at around 1.63.
Roger-Vasselin has only once in his career been to the last eight of an outdoor hard court event at tour level and that was back in 2009 in Tokyo. Berankis is one to side with when his confidence is up - and it will be at the moment.
Almagro will probably not have a better chance to beat Rafa on clay than tonight. He has pushed a fit Nadal on the dirt in their most recent meetings, so I take him to at least keep it close.
Back Almagro +4.5 games to beat Nadal at 2.08
Back Berankis to beat Roger-Vasselin at 1.63