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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Australian Open Day 11 Picks

The tournament is fast moving to its conclusion and I don't think there will be too many people out there that are disappointed with the line up we have in both the Men's and Women's draws.

Novak Djokovic worried me for a few moments as I thought the outright pick could be in real trouble, especially in the second set as David Ferrer looked to press home his advantage. However, the World Number 1 got a second wind and will look to take advantage of the couple of days rest he has before his Semi Final clash with Andy Murray.

Day 11 features both Women's Semi Finals, but also the magnificent looking match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer so let's get on with the picks.

Kim Clijsters vs Victoria Azarenka: I am already in a fairly nice position that I have both of these players in my outright picks, so I have Victoria Azarenka at 6.00 and Kim Clijsters at 11.00 to win the tournament outright.

However, I am going to have an interest in Kim Clijsters coming through this match as I think she is the stronger player of the two and I believe she has recovered from the ankle injury that threatened her tournament in the 4th Round win over Na Li.

Azarenka is a very good player, but one that likes dictating the rallies, something I don't think she will be given the opportunity to do in this match as Clijsters is the more powerful player off the ground.

Both players serves can sometimes let them down, but I think the Belgian also has the edge in this department too, while she also leads the head to head 4-2 (4-1 on hard courts).

It will be tight, but I am surprised that Clijsters is considered the underdog. I think it is also telling that Clijsters has been the favourite in every other meeting, with the longest odds being 1.68 in those matches.

I don't think enough has changed to have the Belgian as the underdog and will look for her to move on 6-4, 6-3

Maria Sharapova vs Petra Kvitova: Now I am picking the underdog here as well, despite the fact that I think Petra Kvitova is the most exciting player on the WTA Tour and would be a worthy World Number 1 at the end of this tournament.

However, she has not looked her dominating self in the last couple of Rounds as I think the slower courts means she has to do more with her shots, leading her to making more mistakes and showing a few inconsistencies in the shot making.

Now Kvitova faces Maria Sharapova, a player that has only been tested once in this tournament, but one that will have to display the mental strength she has become known for against her conqueror at Wimbledon last July.

My biggest concern with this pick is the Sharapova serve that can be a real liability when the pressure increases in matches, although she has done well in this department throughout the last 2 weeks. I also think Sharapova will be able to do a little more against Kvitova in the offensive department and might pressure her younger opponent enough to come through this one.

It's funny to think that around 2 months ago, Sharapova was the 1.55 favourite in this match, yet she is now the underdog. I think that is an over-reaction to the plaudits Kvitova is getting at the moment and the Russian has to be backed to come through in what should be an exciting Semi Final.

Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer: I have never wanted to be more wrong about a pick than this one as I would love to see Federer reach the Final, but you can't argue with Nadal's record against him and I just feel there is a lot of value at the current prices on the Spanish World Number 2.

Nadal hasn't had a great tournament, but he has the game that is likely to cause Federer plenty of problems as it has in 19 of their previous 28 meetings.

The players that have had success against Nadal have begun using the backhand down the line to his backhand, but this is a shot I don't think Federer can hit with consistent effect and we will see a lot of heavy spins going to his backhand from the Nadal lefty forehand.

The other reason I want to keep Nadal onside in this one is the fact he has won the last 5 tie-breakers that they have played against one another, showing that he is effective in the big points in which, I would guess, he has hurt the backhand.

Nadal leads on outdoor hard courts 6-1 and has not been beaten on one of these courts since 2005 to Federer. The courts have been playing slow enough to suggest Federer will have to earn all his points and I just think Nadal will be too consistent.

I would love to be wrong, but I do think the Spaniard will get through in a long 4 or 5 setter.

MY PICKS: Kim Clijsters @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova @ 2.25 BetFred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal @ 2.50 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 18-13, + 12.26 Units

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