Tsitsipas exit leaves Alcaraz overwhelming favourite
Spanish phenom's return game gives huge edge over Coric
Struff and Karatsev face repeat of qualifier
Karatsev and Struff triumph on Thursday
We managed to pick up another winner in what has been a pretty successful tournament in Madrid with Aslan Karatsev getting past Zhizhen Zhang in straight sets. I also, as mentioned, liked Jan-Lennard Struff on the game handicap against Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the German ended up defeating his top ten opponent in three sets in what was an excellent win.
As I've mentioned on a number of occasions in the past, Tsitsipas' fairly mediocre return data was again an issue yesterday, and in the quick conditions of Madrid, created a high-variance encounter which he was on the wrong end of, failing to convert most of his break point chances. This continues to be a concern for the Greek man.
Alcaraz procession to title likely to continue
Such an issue tends not to be a major problem for world number one Carlos Alcaraz, who is yet again an overwhelming pre-match favourite at 1.081/12. His semi-final against Borna Coric is first on the schedule at 1500 UK time, and a glance at the two players clay data over the last year sees Alcaraz with a slight advantage on serve numbers, but a staggering edge on return - he's broken opponents 18% more than Coric has done over this sample.
Ultimately, this is likely to be the major ability differential between the duo this afternoon, and is absolutely the reason why Alcaraz is heavy odds-on continually against the vast majority of opposition.
The biggest price Alcaraz has been across Barcelona and Madrid on clay is around the 1.251/4 mark against Tsitsipas, and also Alexander Zverev, and he eased to victory in both - he simply is a class above anyone in this field.
Karatsev with more market support than qualifying clash
Should Alcaraz win, he'll be yet again an overwhelming favourite in the final whoever he ends up facing. It's not often we see two players from qualifying meet in a Masters semi-final, and especially when one (Jan-Lennard Struff) was a lucky loser having lost in qualifying - to today's opponent Aslan Karatsev! The market is finding it tricky to split the duo for the night match, scheduled for around 1900 UK time this evening.
For that match in qualifying, Struff was priced up at around the 1.68/13 mark but lost in straight sets, and following Karatsev's impressive run to this stage, there's clear market movement with Struff the very slight underdog at 2.021/1.
We also have to consider Karatsev having dropped just one set to reach the semi-finals, while Struff has now won four consecutive deciding sets, which is hardly likely to be of benefit to his accumulated fatigue levels.
Twelve-month clay data gives Struff the edge, which is why he was pre-match favourite for their qualifying round match, but the additional information obtained in this tournament since that match makes the market movement pretty justified in my view.
Karatsev has better serve and return numbers across each of their five main draw wins so far, and he's already beaten a player who has benefited from a variance-heavy run (Zhang) in the previous round, so Struff being around 40 ticks bigger today than that qualifying match looks fair enough.