Top seed David Ferrer faces French showman Gael Monfils in a highly anticipated ATP Auckland semi-final on Friday.
If Ferrer is to win his fourth Auckland title he's going to have to do something he's never managed before and beat Monfils. The Spaniard has ruled the Heineken Open for the past few years and he went into this year's tournament as overwhelming favourite but Monfils will take heart from the fact that he leads 3-0 on the head-to-head and in Doha last week, Nikolay Davydenko showed that it's possible to hit through Ferrer with brute power.
Monfils looks pretty hungry this week. He's made no secret of his desire to get back into the top 20 soon when speaking in press conferences and he's made full use of his wildcard. He stunned third seed Tommy Haas 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in an epic quarter-final in Thursday's evening session and will take a huge amount of confidence from that win given how much Haas enjoys competing down under.
Ferrer always gets off to a sluggish start in Auckland and after needing three sets to see off Yen-Hsun Lu in his second round match, he crushed Slovakia's Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-1 in under an hour in the quarters.
Two of Monfils' wins against Ferrer have come on clay - at the French Open where he traditionally excels and Ferrer has always underachieved over the years.
Prediction: Ferrer in three