Yesterday there was a double shock in Rotterdam. Top seed Juan Martin Del Potro suffered a 36 46 loss to Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis has been in spectacular form so far in the tournament which has surprised many. Del Potro has been troubled by a wrist injury but injury or not he had no reply against Gulbis. Gulbis fired 13 aces and won 83% of points on his first serve. Meanwhile an at times sluggish and over aggressive Andy Murray suffered a loss to the hands of Marin Cilic. Both players did produce over 70% first serves during the match but it was Cilic who had the edge in the match. This now gives Cilic a 8 match winning streak after his win in Zagreb last week.
The first match today will feature the only seeded player left in the draw, Tomas Berdych against Earnest Gulbis. Berdych had to endure a hard quarter final against Jerzy Janowicz. Berdych suffered a big disappointment in the first set when he lost a close tie break after having the chance to take the set five times. Luckily Berdych regained focus in the second set to take it 62 and thanks to a break early on in the final set to take it 64. There has been five meets between the two before with 4 out of the 5 matches having at least one tie break. Berdych is currently leading the head to head 3-2. I predict this to be yet another extremely close match and if Gulbis can maintain his consistency with his serve. The Latvian could produce his third win over a seeded player in three days.
The second semi final will see Igor Sijsling face Marin Cilic. Sijsling has had a dream week at his home tournament so far. He beat seventh seed Youzhny in the first round and endured a roller coaster quarter final against Philip Kohlschreiber in which he finally won 62 26 61. Sijsling's mid match blip could prove significant if it happens again today against Cilic. Cilic is fresh from winning his forth title in Zagreb last week so he is full of confidence and Sijsling is definitely the underdog going in to the match. Last year they played each other twice on the same surface as Rotterdam. Cilic did win both times but both matches was very close. Cilic should expect this to be a hard match especially as Sijsling is playing in from of his home crowd. All the statistics are pointing to a three set's match to come which would delight the Dutch crowd.
Defending champion Kei Nishikori faces surprise semi finalist Michael Russell . Russel produced a shock 76 63 win over third seed Lleyton Hewitt in the quarters to make his third tour semi final at the age of 35. Meanwhile Nishikori had to come from a set down to beat Alex Bogomolov, Jr 36 63 62. Going in to the match the top seed is without a doubt the favourite to progress to the final. Russell is predominantly a Challenger tour player and hasn't played a top 20 player since Milos Ranoic in February 2013 in which he lost 26 57. Russel will put up a fight but i think that unless Nishikori plays poorly his chances of winning is fairly low (well if you believe the statistics).
In the other match Lightening server Ivo Karlović faces 4th seed Lu Yen-hsun. Karlovic had a marathon quarter final against Jack Sock which lasted 2 hours and 25 minuets! Karlovic fired 16 aces which helped him edge out sock 76 67 63. On the other hand Lu Yen-Hsun had a much easier match with his 61 64 win over Alex Kuznetsov. Yen-Hsun has had a great start to the year by reaching the final at the ATP Auckland event in which he beat David Ferrer whilst Karlovic started the season well with his 76 76 victory over Tomas Berdych but has since failed to build upon that. Going in that match there will be questions raised about how exhausted Karlovic still is from the previous match which will play in to the hands of Yen-Hsun. Despite that the biggest headache for the forth seed is how to deal with Karlovic's serve. As long as Yen-Hsun maintain a solid service throughout the match i would give the edge to him in winning the match but it is very close to call.
ATP Copa Claro
The Italian Kind of clay Fabio Fognini faces second seed Tommy Robredo in Argentina. Fognini is always extremely effective on clay with the Italian winning his forth ATP clay court title in the past 8 months last week in Chile. Fognini suffered a second round scare against Florian Mayer with him dropping the first set during a tie break before he regrouped to comfortably take the next two sets. In the quarter finals he beat Pablo Andújar 64 63. Robredo's progression to the semi final has been very similar to Fognini's with the third seed having to also come from a set down in the second round against wild card Guido Pella. His quarter final match ended abruptly when Robin Haase was force to retire early in the second set with a back injury. Robredo leads Fognini 4-3 out of the seven matches that they have played each other. The most important thing to take from this is that out of the four clay courts matches they have played. Robredo has won all of them (2009 Brazil, 2011 Brazil, 2011 Chile and 2013 umag). This is a massive confidence boost for Robredo going in to the match. This match will most likely go to three sets and i think Fognini could beat Robredo for the first time on clay.
Top seed David Ferrer faces Nicholas Almagro. Almagro is recovering from a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the Australian Open. Almargo returned to the tour last week in Chile in which he made the semi finals. During his quarter final match Almargo had to overcome a tricky first set in his 76 63 win over Jeremy Chardy while Ferrer demolished Albert Ramos 61 62 in only 70 minutes. Going in to the match things looks very dismal for Almagro who has never beaten Ferrer out of his past 14 matches trying. This 0-14 win loss against Ferrer as well as still coming back to the tour after injury makes Ferrer the favourite to move to the final.