Rafa can end hard court heart-ache
When Rafael Nadal took over from Roger Federer as tennis's world number one there was a general consensus the Spaniard would dominate grand slams for the foreseeable future, but, after a disappointing semi exit at Flushing Meadows, Nadal is now under massive pressure to make a hard court grand slam final.
Nobody can argue that Nadal doesn't have the credentials or ability to win multiple Australian and US Open titles but, while his final drought continues, his reputation as a worthy successor to Federer is in constant doubt.
And this would never be more evident than if he lost to fellow countryman and huge 7/2 under-dog, Fernando Verdasco, in Friday morning's Australian Open semi-final - although this looks out of the question!
Nadal steps out into the Rod Laver Arena as a short 1/6 favourite, and despite Verdasco's incredible passage to this match, there is no reason to think Nadal cannot progress.
Yes, Verdasco has improved exponentially as a player over the past few months, firstly leading Spain to an unlikely Davis Cup win in Argentina, then following it up with victories over Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to his first grand slam semi.
But, when Nadal is in tip-top shape as he is right now, there are only a handful of players that can seriously challenge him - and Verdasco unfortunately is not one of them!
You can get a great looking price of evens about Nadal strolling to his sixth straight sets victory of the tournament, and bearing in mind Verdasco has only managed to take one set away from Rafa in all past meetings, it could be a banker.
However, you should not write off Verdasco's chances of putting up a good fight too easily, especially as his forehand has been second-to-none throughout his miracle run - making the 5/6 about Verdasco winning with a +6.5 look a reasonable shout.
Of course, while Nadal's past failings may be clear for everyone to see, what won't be quite as obvious until the match starts is how his opponent will cope with his first true taste of the big-time.
His Davis Cup performance in Argentina in which he overcame a 2-1 deficit to shatter Jose Acususo and the entire South American nation suggests that pressure is something he thrives on, but Nadal is a whole new kettle of fish - the thought of which is enough to terrify even the most relaxed players on the ATP Tour.
If he rises to the challenge, 6/5 about the score being 3-3 about six games could provide value, however, if he crumbles, 11/2 about Nadal winning the first set by six games to two looks particularly interesting.
In the end though, it probably doesn't matter which Verdasco turns-up as Rafa looks set to finally challenge Federer for outright tennis supremacy.