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Monday, 23 January 2012

Australian Open Day 9 Picks

The two picks were both winners last night as the Tsonga-Nishikori match ended with 5 sets and David Ferrer was a comfortable 3 set winner over Richard Gasquet.

The biggest surprise of the day was Ekaterina Makarova beating Serena Williams in straight sets for the loss of just 7 games- Williams had not looked herself during these last 10 days, but it was still a surprising result all the same.

While that ended the interest of one of my outright picks, I was happy to see the other 5 players had made their way into the Quarter Finals, although that could be reduced heavily by the time tonight's games are finished.

Kim Clijsters has to overcome an ankle injury if she wants to make her way forward in this draw, while Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro have really tough matches to come through. Victoria Azarenka is another player that has been given a tough draw, but one that I think she is capable of coming through.

Andy Murray must also be the happiest man in the draw as he has avoided what looked like a really tough path through to the Semi Finals as other players have fallen at the wayside. Murray can only concentrate on his own games, but he must have raised himself a smile when he noticed he was due to play Mikhail Kukushkin instead of Gael Monfils and again yesterday now that he is set to play Kei Nishikori rather than Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Murray has looked fresh and focused in this tournament and I think he could be a real danger for Novak Djokovic if they do meet in the Semi Finals.


DAY 9 PICKS
Roger Federer - 5.5 games vs Juan Martin Del Potro: This is a Quarter Final that I have really been looking forward to in the last couple of days as both players have been in good form and have produced fireworks when meeting in the past.

This is their first meeting in a Grand Slam since the US Open Final of 2009, a year in which they actually met in 3 of the 4 Grand Slam events.

I do think Federer will get the job done in this match, because I think he is a better spot mentally than Del Potro who is still getting up to the form that carried him so far in 2009.

Del Potro has looked better and better as the tournament has progressed, but this is by far the toughest test he has faced and I don't feel he is quite ready to take the big step of knocking off one of the top 4 players, not just yet anyway.

Federer has been very solid so far in the event, and is on a long winning run so I expect he will be very confident he can win this match. The Swiss player won their last meeting in straight sets on the hard courts of Cincinnati around 6 months ago, and I think he will have too much for Del Potro on the slower courts here in Australia.

I think Federer will be a little too consistent behind his own serve, while his groundstrokes are working well on both wings... Del Potro will have his own success as he is a player that can take the racquet out of an opponent's hands, but I think he will not quite have the consistency to beat Federer and will likely fall to a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 loss.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games vs Tomas Berdych: After seeing what happened at the end of the Berdych-Almagro match, I was reminded of the end of a match between the Czech player and Nadal back in 2006 in Madrid.

On that occasion, Berdych beat Nadal in straight sets in Madrid, then had a go at the crowd which upset Nadal.

I think it is telling that Nadal has won 10 straight matches against Berdych since that one, also winning 23 of 24 sets that they have competed in and I think the Spaniard will be 100% focused again.

He will not be happy with the way Berdych treated his compatriot and he has never really forgiven him for his actions in Madrid, and I think he will be even more focused in every point than he is usually.

Nadal has looked comfortable in this tournament so far, ending all doubts about his fitness problems that he had followed him into Melbourne. The court is playing slower than most hard courts so I think he will be able to get involved in rallies against Berdych and that should allow him to win plenty of points off the big Czech serve.

Apart from Berdych's win over Olivier Rochus, he has not exactly been pulling up trees despite showing some real mental strength in beating Almagro and Kevin Anderson by winning 5 sets in tie-breakers.

I just think Nadal will be too consistent for Berdych and will be involved in enough rallies to earn breaks of serve and likely come through 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka win 2-1 in sets vs Agnieska Radwanska: Both of these players come into this Quarter Final in plenty of confidence having secured a comfortable passage through the draw, barring Radwanska's 1st Round clash, as both are also looking to pick up their maiden Grand Slam tournament.

They seem to match up well despite Azarenka leading the head to head 7-3, with their last 3 matches going the distance including in Sydney last week when Azarenka came through in their Semi Final clash before picking up the title there.

Radwanska has the game plan that can frustrate a player like Azarenka as she looks to keep the ball in for one for shot and that can lead the higher ranked player to make mistakes.

While I can see this going the distance again, I think Azarenka might hold the mental edge has she has won 5 of their last 6 matches and won their most recent one only last week.

In that case, I think it might be worth taking a chance on the Number 3 seed winning 2-1 in sets at an attractive price.

Caroline Wozniacki-Kim Clijsters Over 21.5 Total Games: I have no idea how Kim Clijsters is going to feel today after what looked like quite a bad ankle turn in her win over Na Li in the 4th Round.

Clijsters would have been the favourite, as far as I am concerned, if she had not suffered that injury as Wozniacki would have really struggled to keep up with the pure shot-making ability that Clijsters can generate.

The Belgian Number 1 leads the head to head 2-0, and both matches were tight affairs that went over the total games that has been set for this one.

I don't think Wozniacki is the kind of player that will bludgeon anybody off the court, so Clijsters will have the chance to make her shots- the question is whether she can move around enough to find the right angles against the World Number 1 who is very effective at keeping a ball in play and looking for an opponent to make mistakes.

It wouldn't surprise me if this match goes the distance today, but I also feel the first 2 sets will be tight enough that the total games could go over even if either player wins in straight sets.


MY PICKS: Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 1.85 188Bet (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka to win 2-1 in sets @ 4.00 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Caroline Wozniacki-Kim Clijsters Over 21.5 Games @ 1.90 Bodog (2 Units)


Australian Open Update: 13-10, + 7.86 Units

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