With all four favourites progressing in Friday's quarter-finals, there are two mouthwatering semi-finals taking place on Saturday at the Shanghai Masters. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, looks at the numbers for both matches...
"In recent head to head matches, Federer has often dropped sets and failed to cover game handicap lines, so it’s tough to look at game and set handicap lines here."
Federer continues Gasquet heavy underdog woe with straightforward win
Tournament favourites Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal progressed on Friday, although Nadal did so with more drama, with the King of Clay being pushed to a third set by Grigor Dimitrov. Federer managed to get past Richard Gasquet in straight sets, with the Frenchman, Gasquet, being broken late on in both sets - where have we heard this before - to extend his career record to 0-23 when priced in excess of 6.00 pre-match.
In the other matches, Cilic managed to achieve similar late-set success as Federer, and break Albert Ramos when it mattered, while Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to fight back from a set down to advance past Viktor Troicki.
Cilic with historical serve issues against Nadal
First up on Saturday, at the more humane hour for European bettors than many of this week's matches - 9:30am UK time - sees Nadal face Cilic, with Rafa taking a 4-1 head to head lead into the match. At the time of writing, Rafa is available as a heavy favourite, at [1.23], and this looks about right to me. My model priced Nadal at [1.20], so there's not much to discuss from a pre-match betting perspective.
However, in the five head to head matches, there is a noticeable trend - Cilic has only been able to win 57.4% of service points, and held serve just 64.7% of the time. With only one match of the five played on Nadal's favoured clay, it's clear that historically, Nadal has had huge joy on the Cilic serve. Certainly, the reverse isn't applicable. Cilic has broken Nadal just 13.7% in head to head matches.
Given this, it would be a major shock if Nadal was beaten tomorrow, and I'd be extremely surprised if he didn't go his 50% of the way to setting up a dream final on Sunday.
Federer ten ticks bigger than US Open quarter-final match-up
In this case, the other 50% would be down to Roger Federer, who is currently [1.31] to dispose of Juan Martin Del Potro and get his 17th head to head win over the Argentine.
Fast conditions in Shanghai definitely should suit the Swiss legend and it's not a surprise that he's yet to drop a set in the event, despite a spell of relative inactivity post US Open, when he lost in four sets to Del Potro - one of six head to head wins for the Tower of Tandil.
In that match, Federer was priced at [1.21], and that's pretty close to my model price of [1.23] here, so it's quite a surprise to see Federer ten ticks bigger here, when conditions should suit him more than in New York.
Del Potro historically struggles to break Federer in head to head matches
Federer has won six of eight head to head matches on hard courts, holding serve 92.1% in these matches, while breaking 23.9%, and these numbers are 2.3% and 2.5% more than his all-surface head to head numbers of 89.8% and 21.4%, respectively. It's definitely reasonable to suggest that hard courts is where Federer has historically enjoyed the biggest head to head advantage.
In recent head to head matches, Federer has often dropped sets and failed to cover game handicap lines, so it's tough to look at game and set handicap lines here. However, he's saved 69.1% of break points historically against Del Potro, and with Federer having a high projected hold percentage tomorrow in quick conditions, backing Federer at bigger prices than SP, when 0-30 or 15-40 down on serve can be considered as a trading entry point, with hedging for profit potential if he gets back to 30-30, deuce or holds serve.
Back Roger Federer at bigger prices than SP, when 0-30 or 15-40 down on serve (with a view to hedging at the end of that service game)
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