Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Getty Images)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello came from behind to beat compatriot Alvaro Quiros and secure a tie with Graeme McDowell in the last four of the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner was three down after seven, but won six holes out of eight on the back nine for a 3 and 1 victory.
And with Northern Ireland’s McDowell knocking out Sergio Garcia at the first extra hole, Cabrera-Bello will be carrying local expectations on his own on the final day at Finca Cortesin.
“I got to play with a friend in Alvaro – I’m very happy for me but I feel sorry for him, and he's such a good guy,” said the 27 year old, who earlier in the day beat Robert Karlsson in the last 16. “We had a good match today. I feel like I'm playing really good.
“This morning I recovered in a tough game, being two down with five to play, and now this afternoon, three down after nine and being able to win, I feel really proud of that.”
McDowell, a former US Open Champion and the man who holed the winning putt for Europe at The 2010 Ryder Cup will start as favourite, but Cabrera-Bello believes he is capable of upsetting the World Number 20.
“I have to play G Mac, and he has a lot of experience and is a Ryder Cup hero, so he's obviously going to be a very, very tough guy to beat,” he added.
“I'm going to try my best and I'm playing good. Hopefully I can start as good as I did on my first two matches and if I don't, I know I can come from behind and make it through. So we'll just see what happens.”
McDowell was left to breathe a huge sigh of relief. He was comfortable enough against Richard Finch in the morning, but then had to go into extra holes against Garcia when he missed a five footer for the match on the last.
The Spanish star was favourite when they returned to the same hole, but charged a 15 foot putt for victory four feet past and missed it after McDowell had holed from five.
"It wasn't exactly El Clasico and I feel like I dodged a bullet there," said the 2010 US Open Champion.
"I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was going home, but sometimes you have to win ugly and sometimes to win you need what just happened to me. I count myself lucky."
Garcia was disappointed to go out, but was pleased to have reached the last eight despite not firing on all cylinders.
“I’m playing so badly this could happen at any moment,” he said.
“Making it to the quarter finals having played so badly means it was a good tournament. I had no good quality shots.
“He gave me some chances that I could not take and I have been saying it from the first day that I have not felt comfortable and I am not happy with my game.”