It's semi-final day tonight at the Miami Masters, and with action commencing at 18:00 UK time, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the two matches...
"In the last 12 months on hard court, Zverev has held serve 87.1% and broken opponents 21.6% (108.7% combined), with Carreno-Busta a little behind at 81.8% and 25.5% respectively (107.3%), and this year on hard court, it's actually the Spaniard with the marginal edge, with a combined percentage of 109.4% compared to Zverev's 107.7%."
Del Potro and Zverev market favourites for the title
And then there were four - we are now at the semi-final stage here at Crandon Park and few would have successfully predicted most of the players remaining in the draw, with Juan Martin Del Potro backing up his win at Indian Wells, and the trio of Alexander Zverev, John Isner and Pablo Carreno-Busta not exhibiting close to their best levels going into the event.
Del Potro, at [2.46] for the tournament, slightly leads the way from Zverev, who is currently [3.05], at the forefront of the market, with Isner [5.4] and Carreno-Busta [9.4] further back in the outright market.
Break point chances likely to be at a premium in the opener
In what I anticipate to be a rather serve-orientated clash in the first semi-final, Del Potro faces Isner and my model makes this around a 36% chance of going to a tiebreak in the opening set via six holds for both players.
Indeed, Del Potro's projected hold percentage of 95.6% make it very unlikely that Isner will be able to pressurise his serve on a consistent basis, and the big American also has a high projected hold percentage at 88.2%.
Therefore I expect break point chances, and by definition, breaks of serve, to be at a premium, and the player who can convert several rare chances will be the one preparing for Sunday's final. The Exchange currently has Del Potro at [1.57] to be that man, and my model agreed with this pricing.
Zverev opposition a recurring theme from yesterday
At around midnight UK time, the second semi-final takes place, with Carreno-Busta facing Zverev, who is [1.44] to get past the Spaniard. We opposed Zverev yesterday, with Borna Coric losing out in a high-quality affair, but I haven't changed my position on the German prospect - he is being over-rated by the markets quite considerably.
Certainly, if a player is statistically over-rated in previous rounds, there's often a case to be made to oppose them again later in the event - and this is what we must do here, with my model making Zverev more accurately priced around the [1.70] mark.
Carreno-Busta's hard court data at a similar level to Zverev
In the last 12 months on hard court, Zverev has held serve 87.1% and broken opponents 21.6% (108.7% combined), with Carreno-Busta a little behind at 81.8% and 25.5% respectively (107.3%), and this year on hard court, it's actually the Spaniard with the marginal edge, with a combined percentage of 109.4% compared to Zverev's 107.7%.
Either way, it's difficult to make a case for Zverev as a strong favourite here, and it's interesting also to note that Carreno-Busta has an excellent historical record as an underdog on hard court, which is seemingly indicative of the market's propensity to under-rate him in similar match-ups in the past as well.
With this in mind, taking the Spaniard as a heavy underdog at [3.20] is my selection for this evening.
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