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Friday, 10 February 2012

Davis Cup Tennis (February 10th-12th)

At the end of the Australian Open a couple of weeks ago, I said I would not be making any picks from the tennis circuit until the Davis Cup was beginning as I wasn't entirely sure how serious some players would be taken the few tournaments we had in the last two weeks.

Now the draw for the ties came out a while ago, but the actual order of the matches was decided earlier today and there are some matches that do interest me, although the layers have been remarkably slow on the uptake and that means they have not put up their entire prices for all the markets that could be of interest.

With that being said, it means I will not be making any picks at this moment, BUT I am hoping that all the markets will be ready by the time I get to work in the morning, and I will put up my picks at that moment.

Until then, I would keep an eye on my Twitter account where I will update as soon as the picks have been locked in... With a little luck, the first picks will be put up at least a couple of hours before the Switzerland-USA tie begins at Midday British time.

Update 12pm Friday 10th February: I was beginning to give up expecting the handicaps to be posted, but patience has finally paid off as some, not all, of the layers got their act together and offered up prices.

Below I will have Day 1 Picks from the Davis Cup and will update this thread over the course of the weekend as ties are completed;

Juan Monaco - 5.5 games vs Philipp Petzschner: This will be the first time these players are meeting, but I have a feeling the spread is a little too low considering the Argentine player is coming in off an impressive win in the tournament held in Chile last week.

The only reason I can offer for this is the fact that he has had to travel into Europe over the last few days and the fact that this is an away tie for Argentina, but this is more than a winnable contest for Monaco.

Petzschner has not played a lot of tennis in 2012 with early exits in the three tournaments he has entered, and he has never really pulled up any trees on a clay court, going 11-11 in main tour events over the last two seasons.

Monaco doesn't have a great record in Davis Cup for his country, but the clay court should suit him better and I think he should come through 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Juan Carlos Ferrero - 6.5 games vs Mikhail Kukushkin: This is another match where I think the spread would usually be a lot higher, but has been skewed by the fact that Mikhail Kukushkin had such an impressive tournament at the Australian Open.

Juan Carlos Ferrero has seen his best playing days come and go, but he is still a tough test for players on a clay court and that gives him a huge edge here, particularly in front of the passionate Spanish fans.

Last season, Ferrero won a tournament on the surface as well as reaching the Semi Final and Quarter Final in others and is still more than capable of providing a stern test for those who are less comfortable with the red dirt underneath their feet.

Kukushkin falls into that category as his 1-6 record in main tour events last season indicates, and he was heavily beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro and Juan Monaco in Davis Cup action on a clay court too.

A hard court would have made this a much more intriguing contest in my eyes, but I think Ferrero will be too good on a clay court and come through 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Roger Federer - 7 games vs John Isner: This will be the second rubber in the Switzerland-USA tie and one that many are looking forward to as Roger Federer plays the opening Davis Cup tie for the first time in a while.

It is clear that Federer is very keen to defend his Doubles Gold Medal at the Olympics this Summer, as well as trying to win a Singles, and his presence has definitely given Switzerland the edge in the tie.

John Isner pushed Rafael Nadal all the way to five sets at the French Open last season so there is a chance that he can spring a surprise, although he has struggled against Federer in the past. They have met twice, both on hard courts, and Isner has fashioned just ONE break point in those matches, losing 5 of the 6 sets they have competed in.

I think Federer will make enough balls back on the service games to suggest he will have chances to break serve and I think that will be the telling angle in this game for him to cover the spread.

The former World Number 1 looked good at the Australian Open and the clay court will only aid him more than it does Isner in this match so I expect he will eventually prove too strong in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory.

David Nalbandian - 3.5 games vs Florian Mayer: This match intrigued me as David Nalbandian is not the player he used to be and the fact he was beaten fairly comfortably by Florian Mayer at the back end of last season, albeit on a hard court.

However, I think Nalbandian has begun to reserve his best tennis for these Davis Cup ties and he has an impressive 22-5 record in Singles action, going 7-1 in his last 8 rubbers.

Mayer is no slouch on a clay court and has been playing some of the best tennis in his career over the last season, but he has only recently come off an injury and has not played a lot of tennis recently. Nalbandian's return of serve should ensure that Mayer is forced to work hard to win points and I can this being a gruelling encounter for the German where his fitness will be tested to the full.

Nalbandian is coming to the end of a very successful career, and I think he does feel there is still a window open for Argentina to win the Davis Cup, while the clay courts should favour his game.

I expect a couple of close sets to begin, but if Nalbandian can split the first two, I expect him to go on and win in four... 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

James Ward vs Martin Klizan: This is the second rubber from the Great Britain-Slovakia tie this afternoon and I am going to back the British player to win as the underdog on a fast indoor surface.

Martin Klizan should not be underestimated as his lefty serve alone should cause problems, but he is a player that has not really had a lot of success on the indoor hard courts over the last year, going 9-11 in all tour events (both main tour and Challenger circuits).

Klizan has shown he has the temperament to compete in Davis Cup ties by winning both rubbers against the Ukrainians in the last time for Slovakia, but I think it could be a tough test for him against James Ward in an Arena where has enjoyed some good times.

Ward has really struggled to make an impact on the main tour, although he did manage to qualify for the Australian Open recently. Without Andy Murray, there is a bit more pressure on Ward to win this tie, as Great Britain are unlikely to go through without that, but he has performed well in this position before.

The Brit went 4-1 in Davis Cup ties last year, his only loss coming to Gilles Muller, and this will not be easy. However, he is set as the slight underdog in this one and I think he is worth chancing to at least give Britain a fighting chance to win this tie.

It won't be easy, and could go to five sets, but I'll have a chance on Ward

DAY 1 Picks: Juan Monaco - 5.5 games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Carlos Ferrero - 6.5 games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 7 games @ 1.95 188Bet (2 Units)
David Nalbandian - 3.5 games @ 2.00 188Bet (2 Units)
James Ward @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

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