The remaining places in the semi finals of the men’s singles at the 2016 US Open are up for grabs on Wednesday, with Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro looking to advance.
Lucas Pouille finally ran out of gas after a great run in New York on Tuesday and wasn’t able to summon up the energy required to grab the opening set against Gael Monfils.
And Wednesday’s night match on the Arthur Ashe Stadium Court under the lights could well be another survival of the fittest encounter between two of the game’s most watchable stars.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs Stanislas Wawrinka
At around 02:00 UK time we’ll see the seventh career clash between Delpo and Stan, with the Tower of Tandil having won the last four, but most were a long time ago and they’ve never met on a hard court until today.
The only relevant part of their head-to-head really is their Wimbledon meeting a few months ago in which Del Potro came through in four sets under the roof in a match where he mainly used the backhand slice.
That match came quite early on in Delpo’s latest comeback and he very rarely hit through his backhand, but he does so more often now and you would assume that would make him even more of a dangerous opponent for the Swiss.
I’m not convinced at all about the fitness of either player at the moment, with Delpo having played a lot of tennis of late for a man that’s had so much time away from the sport (and he had the trainer out for a shoulder rub against Dominic Thiem), while Stan looks like he struggling a tad too.
Wawrinka skipped the Olympics and looked far from peak fitness in Cincy after a back problem and he’s appeared less than fit this tournament in struggles against Dan Evans and Ilya Marchenko.
The Marchenko struggle was entirely self-inflicted, but the slice of Evans to Stan’s own backhand kept that weapon of the Swiss quiet and Del Potro can use the same tactic here before winding up on his own brutal forehand.
Delpo says of this clash that Stan “will be the favourite to win in that match,” but he’s wrong about that, with the Argentine a 1.66 chance today and he has to be favourite based on the match-up.
One bet I do like here is over 18.5 aces, with both men hitting 0.57 aces per service game on outdoor hard this season (and they hit 24 between them in four sets at Wimbledon), but perhaps 1.60 is a tad skinny, so the -1.5 sets on Del Potro looks the one here.
I always feel in this sort of close-looking match that it’s best to go bravely one way or the other and the stats say it will be close, with Delpo holding serve 83.7 percent of the time on outdoor hard and breaking 26.2 percent of the time.
Wawrinka is similar with 87.3 percent holds and 24 percent breaks, but for me this match-up favours the Argentine, with his ability to nullify Stan’s backhand and force him into a lot of errors.
The Swiss made 48 unforced errors against Delpo in that Wimbledon clash (and 64 against Evans in a five set clash) and the Argentine – if he’s fit – can take advantage.
Few would begrudge the popular Argentine a place in another US Open final and a first major semi final on a hard court since he won here back in 2009 and I’ll take Delpo in either three or four in this one.
Value bet: Back Del Potro -1.5 sets to beat Wawrinka at 2.20