The 2012 Madrid Masters are down to semifinalists and in one of Saturday's matches, Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro will face the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych.
Prior to the start of the tournament, many felt as though del Potro could make the semifinals, as the World No. 11-ranked player has been playing solid tennis of late and promises to make the 2012 French Open quite interesting. Few would have expected Berdych to make it this far in the tournament however, as the World No. 7 shared a quarter with Rafael Nadal, the reigning King of Clay.
But when Nadal suffered a surprise loss to Fernando Verdasco, it opened the door for an unlikely semifinalist and Berdych will now be gunning for his first Masters Series 1000 championship match appearance since the 2010 Miami Masters (loss to Roddick).
Del Potro's only final appearance in a Masters Series event came in 2009 when he lost to Andy Murray at the Canadian Masters.
This is a big match for both players and del Potro is considered the favorite (source: bet365, 4/7).
The Argentinian has been playing his best tennis of late and if he can keep it up, he could very well rise back up to the World No. 4 ranking before season's end, a ranking he held in 2010 for a few weeks.
Delpo is through four matches in Madrid having not lost a set and, in the broader context, he has a 22-set winning streak currently active. In that streak of set-wins, del Potro has only faced three tiebreakers and his run of strong form makes him a clear threat to even the very best players on tour.
Head-to-head del Potro is 3-1 against Berdych and one of those wins came on clay (via retirement).
Straight up: del Potro or Berdych
But while del Potro is the more proven player this match promises to be quite competitive as the Argentinian could be facing fatigue issues that Berdych may not be facing.
Berdych, the six seed at the event, had a first round bye in the tournament while del Potro, the 10 seed, did not. Also while Delpo was playing last week in Estoril while Berdych was idle, so perhaps playing so many matches in a period of less than two weeks will catch up to the World's No. 11 soon.
Also Berdych's impressive play at Madrid cannot be ignored as he has won his last two matches with only five lost games combined.
All things considered, I think del Potro will prevail in the semifinal as he is playing his near his peak right now. When he's at the top of his game, only the best players on tour can stay with him and I do not include Berdych in that category.
This match is to be played not before 3:30pm local time on Saturday on Manolo Santana court in Madrid.
Prediction: JMD to win