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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Australian Open Day 10 Picks

It was a very good day for the daily Picks yesterday as they went 3-1, but it was also a nice day for my outright picks as both Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka progressed to a Semi Final clash against one another.

Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro both fell to their more illustrious opponents in the Quarter Final stage, but I remain happy with the choices made at the start of the tournament as there were plenty of doubts surrounding the fitness of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

We also still have Novak Djokovic in play and he has looked just as good as anyone left in this tournament, although the potential Semi Final clash with Andy Murray could be a lot more difficult than I thought it might have been at the start of the tournament due to the opponents Murray has in his path rather than the ones he was seeded to meet.

I was a little disappointed to see Juan Martin Del Potro so easily brushed aside in his match with Roger Federer, even if I had backed Federer to cover the 5.5 game handicap in that match. I still think Del Potro has a little way to go before he is competing with, and beating, the top 4 players in the World, but this tournament has shown he is going the right way.

He should be moving into the top 10 at the end of the tournament and I still think he could be a major force by the time the last Grand Slam of the year, in New York no less, comes around in September.

On the other hand, I was super impressed with Tomas Berdych and the effort he made against Rafael Nadal in a 4 set defeat. For the first 2 sets, Berdych was the better player as he put a game plan together using the Novak Djokovic blueprint from last year. In all honesty, Berdych probably deserved to be 2-0 up in sets, but I thought him losing the second set would be the turning point.

Berdych did break to move 2-0 up in the third set, but it was really one way traffic following that and it seems I was a little unfortunate not to cover the 5.5 game spread as Nadal had plenty of BP opportunities in almost every service game the Czech had from that point.

Now we get to look forward to an intriguing Semi Final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in what, I believe, is their first Grand Slam clash outside of a Final since 2005 (I could check this, but I am being lazy- I do believe it was the French Open Semi Final when they last met at this stage, but could be wrong).

Petra Kvitova - 6.5 games v Sara Errani: This is actually the first meeting between the two players, but I really do think Sara Errani is going to have plenty of problems dealing with the powerful groundstrokes generated by Petra Kvitova, the World Number 1 in the making.

Errani did have an impressive win over Nadia Petrova earlier in the tournament, but her serve and groundies are just not as penetrating as her opponent's and this could be a really tough day in the office for her.

There is the thought that Errani has nothing to lose, but she hasn't really got the power play nor the consistency that would allow her to dictate points if she was just going hell for leather on every shot.

Kvitova has not looked unbeatable in this tournament so far, and has had a couple of little wobbles, but her game looked in good shape for the most part against Ana Ivanovic and I don't think Errani will pose as many problems.

I can see the Czech player coming through 6-3, 6-1.

Ekaterina Makarova + 4.5 games v Maria Sharapova: Ekaterina Makarova has to be the biggest surprise package in the tournament, in either the Men's or Women's draw, so far as she has recorded straight sets wins over Kaia Kanepi, Vera Zvonareva and Serena Williams in consecutive rounds.

However, things will not get easier for her in this Round as she faces a known battler in the form of Maria Sharapova, a player that has beaten Makarova in both their previous meetings.

Makarova has impressed me with the way she has been playing and I think she is going to cause problems with her heavy strokes off the ground and the lefty serve working well. She reminds of Kvitova in the manner she has played, but I am very surprised with the consistency she has displayed considering her results over the last couple of seasons.

I have no doubt that she can create issues for Sharapova who was blown off the court by Kvitova when they met in the Wimbledon Final last year, especially if the more experienced Russian begins to get the yips on her own serve.

We all know that Sharapova has some of the best battling qualities on the WTA Tour and she has no worries in trying to grind out a result and I think she may do so again here... However, I can certainly see Makarova taking a set here and that may be enough to ensure she gets the cover.

I can see a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win for Sharapova as she finally grinds down her compatriot.

Andy Murray - 8.5 games v Kei Nishikori: I have to admit that I actually thought Andy Murray was going to have a higher handicap here so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the line.

I am not disrespecting the achievements of Kei Nishikori, but I truly think this will be a step too far for a player that plays in a similar manner to Murray, but with far less effectiveness.

I am sure Nishikori is an excellent athlete, but you can't tell me that playing every day in these tough conditions will not take their toll on somebody, especially somebody who has needed 5 sets, 4 sets and 5 sets to knock out his last 3 opponents. The Japanese youngster was playing mixed doubles yesterday and I think we may this taking it's toll against Murray who is very happy trying to wear out opponents on the court.

The British Number 1 has been in very good form dismissing his challengers so far in the tournament and you can imagine he will want to get the job done here as soon as possible, He beat Nishikori 6-3, 6-0 in their only previous meeting and, while I don't think it will be that easy, I think his consistency will lead to a straight sets win.

I'll look for Murray to cover this spread with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win.

Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games v David Ferrer: I love what David Ferrer has done with the talent that was given to him and I have a lot of respect for him reaching the heights in the game that he has- Ferrer works so hard on the court that he would be a real role model for a lot of potential professionals out there who are looking to see what it takes to become a really good player.

In saying that, he is still a little behind the very best and that is what he will be facing in the evening session in this Quarter Final. Novak Djokovic suffered a little wobble in his match against Lleyton Hewitt, but he has brushed aside almost all challenges with very little trouble.

While the World Number 1 has not really been faced with anything too difficult, the manner of his wins has been impressive and I think he is going to be too strong for Ferrer here.

Djokovic just does everything better than Ferrer, and he is capable of finding more than the Spaniard and that should be enough to carry him through. The Serb also beat Ferrer for the loss of 3 games in an exhibition tournament in the Middle East before the official start of the 2012 season.

The head to head suggests it will be closer than I think as it is 7-5 in favour of Djokovic, however I think it is telling that Djokovic has won all 5 meetings against Ferrer on hard courts without losing a set.

The two players have also met here in Australian in a Quarter Final back in 2008 which was won by Djokovic for the loss of 8 games.

I expect this match may be a little closer, but I am looking at Djokovic to come through 6-3, 6-4, 6-3

MY PICKS: Petra Kvitova - 6.5 games @ 2.00 188Bet (2 Units)
Ekaterina Makarova + 4.5 games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 8.5 games @ 2.00 Coral (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games @ 1.80 BetFred (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 16-11, + 12.66 Units

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