Kei Nishikori looks to have been underrated by the bookies as he bids to enhance a favourable head-to-head with Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the US Open final.
The man from Japan is a 17/20 favourite to down the big-serving world number 16 in Flushing, Queens, with his opponent a slender underdog at 19/20.
Yet Nishikori has had the greater share of the spoils in past meetings between the pair by a margin of five wins to two.
Since the beginning of 2013 they’ve played each other three times across across the hardcourt, clay and indoor disciplines, with the Michael Chang-coached market-leader triumphant on every occasion.
If the quality of opponents overcame en route to this stage is to be used as a barometer for success in the eliminator, a Nishikori triumph once again seems imminent.
The Japanese has eliminated three players currently inside the top six in the world rankings – Marin Cilic, Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – in successive rounds.
Two, Wawrinka and Djokovic, already have Grand Slams to their names this season.
By way of contrast, Cilic, with the exception of his superb defeat of Roger Federer, ousted only one top-ten practitioner.
That was the distinctly out of sorts Czech Tomas Berdych.
To put Nishikori’s achievement in beating the Serbian world number one into context, it was the first time the Djoker has ever been beaten by a younger player in a Grand Slam match.
His own semi-final giant killing saw Cilic beat the ‘Big Four’s’ most rusting edifice, a man who has landed one slam in the last four seasons and last won the US Open in 2008.
In doing so he served with an intensity that it will be interesting to see if he can match in the final.
Whether he does so or not, he’ll be playing, a man who has both the skills and the determination to slay the goliaths of the serving world.
Nishikori proved as much when overhauling Milos Raonic, the fifth fastest server in the history of the game, in five sets at the last-16 stage.