French Open Men's Semi-Final Tips: Cilic underdog value for Ruud clash

It's men's semi-finals day at the French Open on Friday and, after the epic quarter-finals this week, Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts on both matches...

Nadal benefiting from long rest after victory over Djokovic

Rafa Nadal will be delighted with three days rest following his four-hour plus epic win over Novak Djokovic on Tuesday.

Wednesday's winners, including Marin Cilic, won't get the same luxury after his dramatic final set tiebreak win over Andrey Rublev, which also lasted in excess of four hours.

Nadal faces Alexander Zverev this afternoon, with the German causing a shock on Tuesday by ousting the second-favourite, Carlos Alcaraz, and it's the King of Clay who starts as the strong 1.37 favourite to make the final.

With Nadal's outright price 1.56, the Spaniard would start at around 1.15 in the final against the winner of the second semi-final between Cilic and Casper Ruud.

Zverev needing to serve well to have any chance

Against Cilic, Nadal could well be shorter than this but against Ruud, I'm not so sure, so it's interesting to see the market dynamics ahead of a possible final. Zverev has only beaten Nadal once in five meetings on clay, and that was in quicker conditions in Madrid - probably Nadal's worst clay tournament over the years - and in those head to head meetings previously, the main issue for the German has been on serve.

Versus Nadal on clay, Zverev has only held serve 60% of the time in his career, so it's reasonable to assume that Nadal has been able to put consistent pressure on Zverev's serve in those previous meetings. This is a clear area where Zverev will need to improve in order to cause an upset here today.

Nadal won 43% of return points against Novak Djokovic in the previous round, breaking seven times - illustrating the tough task which Zverev has to hold consistently against Nadal today.

There's a slight lean to suggest that the market price on Nadal is a touch on the generous side today, but it's not anything I consider particularly noteworthy.

I'd be looking at around the 1.30 mark to be reasonable, but given his return dominance over Zverev previously, I wouldn't put people off Nadal on the game handicap here if you do want to get involved in this match.

Cilic very capable of overturning odds against Ruud

Ruud faces Cilic in the second semi-final and the Norwegian is the 1.48 favourite to make the final.

I've been saying throughout the two weeks that Ruud has probably overplayed in recent weeks, but Cilic's long match on Wednesday should probably be a bit of a leveller in that respect.

Cilic's high level over the past week or so gives him a chance here, and he has impressed hugely in this tournament (combined service return points won of 113% - higher than Ruud's). I would have preferred him not to have played a long match on Wednesday, but I'm not sure he should be as big as 3.05.

The Croatian veteran's experience on the big stage should also be of assistance, with this being the biggest match of Ruud's young career.

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