The semi-finals at the Miami Masters take place tonight and back to discuss the day’s action by Tennis Signal.

Tiafoe succumbs after positive start

Things were going well for our underdog pick last night, Frances Tiafoe, after taking the first set against Denis Shapovalov but the American succumbed in three sets. Shapovalov’s ‘reward’ is a semi-final clash with Roger Federer, who got past Kevin Anderson for the loss of just four games. I highlighted yesterday that Federer has had considerable success on the South African’s serve in previous meetings and this continued on Thursday night.

Isner accurately priced to continue title defence

The first semi-final takes place at 17:00 UK time tonight with defending champion John Isner 1.60 favourite over Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has hugely impressed in this tournament.

I make the price about right – when Auger-Aliassime’s Challenger data (including opponent quality adjustments) is taken into account as well as his main tour data, there’s around a 3.5% edge for the big-serving American across the last 12 months. Isner will also have the motivation to continue his title defence, avoid losing ranking points defended, and a considerable advantage in experience.

This is only the second career semi-final on the main tour for Auger-Aliassime, and the first at Masters 1000 level. Conversely, Isner has played 11 Masters semi-finals, winning four, although only twice was he a pre-match favourite – once against Richard Gasquet in Toronto in 2012 and also against Filip Krajinovic in Paris in 2017.

Federer a heavy favourite to get past Shapovalov

The second semi-final also looks accurately priced, with Roger Federer a strong 1.24favourite to get past Denis Shapovalov.

Federer, against a generally higher calibre of opponent, has a considerable serve advantage – holding around 10% more on hard court in the last 12 months, while return data is broadly similar between the duo. As a fairly serve-orientated player himself, Shapovalov is going to have to perform very well indeed to threaten the Swiss man’s serve today.

As with the first semi-final today, the two players haven’t yet met in a match during their career, and Shapovalov is yet to register a set in his two Masters 1000 semi-finals. An unwanted hat-trick is probably the most likely outcome tonight, although as with the first semi-final, there doesn’t look to be any major discrepancies with the market pricing.

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