The Shanghai Masters reaches the semi-final stage on Saturday, and after the departures of Djokovic and Federer on Friday, Dan Weston looks at the remaining contenders for the trophy...
"Hard court data this year shows the duo having almost identical service points won numbers, but Medvedev winning almost 7% more return points."
Djokovic and Federer dumped out in Friday shocks
It's been a disappointing week where not much has gone for us, and indeed not much has gone for the big names in the draw, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer dumped out on Friday by young players with ambitions to dethrone the elite duo eventually.
First of all, Djokovic was beaten in three sets by Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the Greek man not even needing any of his rumoured 'clutch' ability to get past Djokovic, generating seven break point chances to the Serb's solitary opportunity which saw him convert early in the opening set en route to taking a 1-0 lead.
Sadly for us, having sided with Federer on the game handicap, he was also deservedly beaten by a lower ranked player with Alexander Zverev generating eight break point chances on Federer's serve, converting four, en route to his own 2-1 victory. It looked like Federer might have been able to turn the tide following a dramatic second set tiebreak triumph which saw Zverev blow five match points (four on serve), but an early break in set three saw the German get back on track.
Medvedev unbeaten against Tsitsipas in his career
So, Tsitsipas and Zverev join the two straight-set victors, Daniil Medvedev and Matteo Berrettini, in the semi-finals to complete a quartet of 'next-gen' players remaining in the draw, with Saturday's semi-finals getting underway at 930 UK time.
Opening the schedule is Tsitsipas against Medvedev, with the Russian, Medvedev actually taking a 4-0 head to head lead into the clash, although Tsitsipas has taken a set in every single clash. However, Tsitsipas has had little success on the Medvedev serve in these matches, winning a mere 32% of points on return, and he'll need to dial this up to a decent extent if he's going to cause an underdog victory at [3.05].
Medvedev also with huge stats advantage
In fact, I think Medvedev is a decent price at [1.50]. Hard court data this year shows the duo having almost identical service points won numbers, but Medvedev winning almost 7% more return points - a huge advantage - and given that he's had historical success against Tsitsipas in their previous meetings, all of which are from 2018 onwards, there's a strong case to suggest he's value for a small stake at market lines.
A handicap line can be considered, but given Tsitsipas' propensity to play tight sets, it would be much more risky than simply the match win position on Medvedev here.
Zverev justifiably a slight favourite against Berrettini
My perception is that the market is more accurate in the second semi-final between Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev. It's Zverev who is the [1.68] favourite, and I don't make this hugely out of line.
Despite having a tough 2019 in general, Zverev's hard court numbers this year are still better than Berrettini's (105% combined service/return points won to 103%) and this illustrates that there is no value at the current market prices.
Berrettini got the better of Zverev in a tight match on the clay of Rome in May, and in truth, there's little to go on with their two head to head meetings so far, with their only other clash - ironically also in Rome, in 2018 - having a large discrepancy in rankings, with Zverev ranked three at the time and Berrettini outside the top 100.
It's a mark of how their two levels have become considerably closer that in that match in 2018, Zverev was priced around the [1.15] mark pre-match, a rather large difference to the current market pricing.
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Back Daniil Medvedev at [1.50] to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas