We're at the business end of the 2022 French Open and after a quite stunning performance in knocking out Novak Djokovic on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal is back to take on Alexander Zverev in the semi finals.
It's hard to overstate just how much better Nadal was in that Djokovic clash, having been (at best) mediocre in a really laborious five set struggle of a win over Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter finals.
The forehand was hit with vicious intent and power, the energy was there, he was bristling with aggression and at times blew Djokovic away with an absolute peak level.
And all of that after coming back from a rib injury and the ongoing foot issue that forced him to limp out of Rome.
I must admit, having watched the FAA match I didn't think that Rafa stood any real chance against Djokovic playing at that level, but the King of Clay somehow rolled back the years and produced a performance as good as any he's come up with on Chatrier.
The question now for the new tournament favourite at 1.558/15 is, can he reproduce that level (or close to it) again on his 36th birthday after back-to-back four-hour matches and carrying a foot injury?
We simply don't know, but it's hard to see (unless he's physically unable to compete) Nadal passing up the opportunity of what very well could be a last French Open title and we have to assume that he'll be fit and ready for duty.
Facing him is Alexander Zverev, who came up with a very nice performance of his own in upsetting Carlos Alcaraz, winning 73% of his first serve points and making 70% of those first serves, while also winning 57% on his second ball.
It's true to say that Alcaraz had a poor day by the standards he's set for himself this season, but Zverev has to have some credit for that, with an approach that he rarely uses or is able to use for whatever reason.
On that day, Zverev was aggressive, took the ball early, didn't retreat miles behind the baseline, and hit his forehand with intent, which makes me wonder why he can't do that more often?
He has won three of his last four against Nadal, but two were at the end of seasons on indoor hard and the other was in Madrid, where Zverev has a fine record and Nadal often struggles (by his standards).
In their clay series it's 4-1 to Nadal and the stats show that Zverev has struggled quite badly, holding serve only 61% of the time and breaking Rafa just 20% of the time, but he's still managed to create almost the same number of break chances as Nadal (0.64 per game for Zverev and 0.66 for Nadal).
Nadal has been far better on those big points, taking 59% of those opportunities compared to 30% for Zverev - almost double.
And the Spaniard has won 66% of his second serve points on clay versus Zverev, who's only won 43% on his second ball, so the stats don't look great for Zverev.
Given the slight question mark over Rafa's fitness and Zverev's display against Alcaraz I can't see any huge value in backing Nadal at 1.364/11 here, so for me the best play here is perhaps to take the 4.03/1 about Nadal winning it 3-1.
Assuming Zverev repeats his form from the Alcaraz match he has a set in him, but I can't see Nadal dropping two or three sets to the German here at the French Open.
Cilic more than capable of defeating Ruud
The second semi final sees Casper Ruud take on Marin Cilic and who at the start of the tournament could have predicted Cilic being one match away from a French Open final for the first time in his career?
Never past the quarter finals in any of his previous 15 appearances at the French, Cilic has taken advantage of the opportunity that was there at the start for all of the players in the fourth quarter of the draw.
The big Croat was sublime in his win over Daniil Medvedev that reminded viewers of Cilic's glory run at the 2014 US Open and he backed that up with a tough five set win over Andrey Rublev in the quarters.
Cilic has the type of game that can do serious damage to Ruud, who is vulnerable to big hitters, and I feel that this match is by and large all about what sort of level Cilic brings to the court.
If it's the one that he showed in crushing Medvedev then he wins this match, but if it turns into more of a nervy, cat and mouse affair then I'd favour Ruud.
Both players have been strong on serve this fortnight (Ruud holding 89% of the time and Cilic 93% of the time) and Cilic's stats for this French Open overall are better than Ruud's.
In terms of combined service points won/return points won this tournament Cilic is on 113 and Ruud 110 and when this pair last met on clay (Rome 2020) Cilic won 93% of his first serve points, so I feel this price on Ruud is rather short.
A nervy start is highly likely here and with two strong servers involved, too, I like the over 10.5 games in set one at 3.259/4 for half a point.