Not many people were talking about Frenchman Ugo Humbert at the start of the men's ASB Classic.
The pre-tournament focus was on world No12 Fabio Fognini, coming off his best year on tour, as well as a clutch of young guns.
There was Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov, Russian world No16 Karen Khachanov and American Next Gen star Frances Tiafoe. There was also plenty of hype of Norwegian teenager Casper Ruud, the first from the Nordic country to reach the top 100 in two decades, and Italian Jannik Sinner, an 18-year-old who had achieved ranking milestones only matched by Rafa Nadal.
But those men are all gone, while Humbert is through to the last four, after a 7-5 6-4 win over Shapovalov in one hour 28 minutes yesterday.
Shapovalov ended 2019 on fire, then enjoyed a couple of big victories in the ATP Cup last week.
But the world No13 was yesterday no match for Humbert, who was composed and clinical, and found the answers when he needed them.
In contrast, Shapovalov produced a mixed bag; he reeled off some breathtaking shots, but never looked comfortable or confident, best illustrated when he double-faulted on set point, then incredibly repeated the error on match point.
"One of the keys was to stay focused on my game, my plan," said Humbert, 21. "I came last year and really loved the tournament and the city. I feel a lot of energy, positives and I am excited to play here."
That showed with some clutch shotmaking, especially off his first serve, where the world No57 dropped only six points all match.
Humbert, who won three Challenger titles last year, will face two-time ASB Classic champion John Isner in the semifinals today.
"I've got nothing to lose," said Humbert. "I am really confident of my game and my level."
There will be a local presence in the last four of the doubles, after Marcus Daniell and his Austrian partner Philipp Oswald won a hard-fought quarter-final.
In front of a raucous crowd, Daniell and Oswald came back from a set down to prevail 4-6 6-1 10-7 in 68 minutes over Frederik Nielsen (Denmark) and Tim Puetz (Germany).
"In the second set I felt like we really stepped up, went to another gear on return games and sort of ran away with it," said Daniell. "Then the super [tiebreak] is just anyone's game and with the home crowd and the energy that they bring, we were just able to out passion them a little bit."
Daniell is the last remaining Kiwi in the draw, after Artem Sitak and Divij Sharan (India) were edged 7-5 6-7 (3) 10-8 by the Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.
"We only get to play at home once this year," said Daniell. "I've had some pretty incredible memories here in the past and want to keep making more memories. I don't feel a heap more pressure, I see it more as an energy-giving thing."