Kei Nishikori is two matches away from immortality after dumping out world number two Andy Murray in a five-set epic at the US Open.
Bidding to become the first Asian player in history to win a Grand Slam title, Nishikori upset the odds to defeat Murray, who lost the final two sets of the five-set epic.
It was only the Britain’s second defeat in 28 matches, and just his second in nine against his Japenese opponent.
Taking such a scalp for the world number six bodes very well for Nishikori’s chances of going one better than he did two years ago, when defeated in the final by Marin Cilic.
Next up is Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals. The Swiss is still shorter at 11/2 to take the title, ahead of third-favourite Nishikori at 8/1.
However, these odds are more to do with Stan’s previous pair of Slam titles at the Australian and French rather than anything else, with Japan’s great hope the 8/11 fave to win their Flushing Meadows showdown.
It may be 3-2 to Wawrinka in the overall head-to-head count, but Nishikori won their only previous 2016 clash in straight sets to make the final of the Toronto Masters on hard courts in July.
The count is 1-1 in Slams, but once again the omens are good for the Asian player who defeated his next opponent at the quarter-final stage en route to the US Open final in 2014, albeit it went the distance. We go 5/1 that this scoreline is repeated.
If the Stan-shaped hurdle is cleared then barring a huge shock, world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic is most probably the ‘prize’ waiting in the final as he lines up against 5/1-underdog Gael Monfis.
Even so, that brush with glory in the Big Apple featured a rare win over the Serbian for Nishikori in the semi-finals on courts where he clearly feels most comfortable in the Slam circuit.
Having been on the wrong side of five results against Djokovic this season – albeit two were on his least preferable surface of clay – defeating Murray could be the belief-cementing victory that spurs him on at Flushing Meadows.
The way the 26-year-old mixed up his tactics against the Brit, serving and volleying and coming into the net mid-rally on occasion clearly threw Murray off his own gameplan.
At 8/1, Nishikori looks well worthy of a punt for a maiden Grand Slam crown.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.