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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Tennis Outright Tournament Picks (February 13-19)

I only took part in the opening day of the Davis Cup ties as that is the one day that most of the layers have their prices up, while there is a lot of confusion in the later days over who is playing and who won't be with teams winning ties after the first three rubbers.

It wasn't a great time picking those games though as we saw some real surprise results (Federer losing to Isner being the biggest), so I was fairly content getting out of the day with a slight loss.

This week the tournaments take a slightly more serious tone, and that is highlighted by the fact that players like Roger Federer are going to be in action as the Rotterdam tournament is also a ATP 500 event. With that in mind, I think I will be playing the week as usual with the outright picks below, and daily picks being posted throughout the week.

ATP Rotterdam
It is actually a surprise, and shows a lot of intention for the 2012 season, that Roger Federer will be taking part in this event this season. The former World Number 1 has already declared his ambition to get the top position back and he will know that he has half a chance if he can increase his schedule and win a few more events. With Novak Djokovic having a tonne of points to defend this year up until the US Open, winning events will help reduce the gap between himself and Federer, while the Number 2 position could also be up for grabs.

Federer has been given a fairly straightforward draw and could have no real complaints about that, so it is no surprise to see him as a short favourite to win the event.

There are a couple of tough looking encounters to negotiate, but I would expect Federer to get through against Nicolas Mahut, Mikhail Youzhny, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Richard Gaquet, with the latter two most likely to cause the most problems.

While I have no doubt that Federer is coming to Holland with the intention of winning (why else would he take part in an event he has mostly missed over the years?), I still think it is a little risk to back him at the short odds being offered.

Instead I am going to look at the bottom half of the draw and Number 2 seed at the event, Tomas Berdych- the big Czech player will not be facing the change of surface that Federer is having played in the Davis Cup on an indoor hard court, and he has started magnificently well this season after an inconsistent and disappointing 2011.

Berdych reached the Quarter Final at the Australian Open and pushed Rafael Nadal heavily in that loss, while following that up with a win at the indoor tournament in Marseille last week. He has been in very solid form and should enjoy playing on the courts here in Rotterdam, although he will have a couple of tough tests in his path to the Final.

The big man has a potentially awkward match with Marcos Baghdatis in the 2nd Round that could cause one or two problems, but Berdych has won 3 of their last 4 meetings and I think he is playing at a much higher level than the Cypriot at the moment.

The biggest problem, however, could come in the form of Juan Martin Del Potro, who is seeded to meet Berdych in the Semi Final. The Argentine had won the last two meetings with Berdych, although suffering a number of injuries since then and he has also been given a tough opening match with Michael Llodra who plays his best tennis indoors.

With that tough opener in mind, I think Berdych looks a decent choice to win his second tournament of the season, especially at the decent looking 5.50 being offered at Bet365.

ATP San Jose
A small field has got together on the American hard courts in San Jose, being led by Gael Monfils and Andy Roddick, both players that look a little vulnerable to me at the top of the market.

Gael Monfils has all the talent in the World, but he is infuriating at times and it is no wonder he has only won 4 career titles and struggles to maintain a presence in the top 10. On paper, it looks like Monfils has been presented with a great opportunity to make it through to the Final here, as he receives a 'bye' in the 1st Round, and then plays a Qualifier before a tough, but winnable, Quarter Final against Ryan Harrison.

However, the biggest danger to Monfils could come from the up and coming Milos Raonic of Canada, a player that had a break out season last year and is looking to push on this while defending his title here.

Raonic is a definite top 20 player in the making and could easily break the top 10 if he can find some consistency in his game and he has already secured a title in Chennai this season. The Canadian is still playing in their Davis Cup tie, but he has been given a 'bye' through the 1st Round and will not have to play here until Wednesday.

He has a tough looking game with Kevin Anderson in the Quarter Final, but I think he will fancy his chances of defending his title here. Raonic lost his only meeting with Monfils on an indoor hard court in 3 sets in Sweden, but that was a close match and he could easily reverse that result on a court he enjoyed playing on in 2011.

The bottom half of the draw is a little harder to separate as there are a number of players that have a few question marks to answer. Andy Roddick is the top player in this half by seeds, but I would be keen to see how he has recovered from the injury that forced him out of the Australian Open last month.

Sam Querrey would have been of interest if he had not been returning from an injury plagued 2011, while Julien Benneteau is another vulnerable seed.

One player who could come of the section is Radek Stepanek, although he is clearly a player coming towards the end of his career. Stepanek helped the Czech Republic to a win over Italy in the Davis Cup and has enjoyed plenty of success in these type of tournaments in the States in the past, including winning a 500 event in Washington last season.

I just think his price is a touch short considering he has not had the best start to the 2012 season, although his draw is decent.

However, the winner looks set to come out of the top half of the draw for me, and Milos Raonic seems to fit the bill in terms of consistency, ability to win on these courts and motivation.

ATP Sao Paulo
The Number 1 seed at the event is Nicolas Almagro and I think he can may hay from this position. He has been playing in the Davis Cup for Spain, but will be given a 'bye' in the 1st Round here so will not have to take to the court until Wednesday at the earliest.

That time will enable Almagro to hopefully get rid of any jetlag from the trip to Brazil from Europe and I think he can go all the way through to the Final, even if that means beating a couple of big obstacles in the way.

The Spaniard shouldn't have too many problems in the 2nd Round, but a potential Quarter Final against the in-form Carlos Berlocq is a worry, before a likely Semi Final with Fernando Verdasco.

Almagro has a winning record against Berlocq and would fancy his chances against him on a clay court, while he has beaten Verdasco in 2 of their last 3 matches. The latter is also in horrible form after a poor 2011 and he may not have the confidence to see off Almagro if it turns into a close encounter.

The bottom half of the draw has some very interesting players, although you could put a question mark beside a few of the names we see. Juan Carlos Ferrero was showing signs of physical incapability while playing for Spain so it hard to imagine him winning 5 matches in a row to take this tournament, while Thomaz Bellucci has been out of form although he could be inspired by playing in front of his own supporters.

David Nalbandian would be an interesting player with the right draw, but he too will be coming over from Europe without the benefit of having a 'bye' in the 1st Round. Nalbandian has also been very inconsistent over the last 12 months and is always susceptible to a pull out through injury.

The Argentine will also run into Gilles Simon in the 2nd Round and it just looks like a tough path through to the Final for him. Nalbandian would be a dangerous opponent for Almagro if he got to the Final as he would be match hardened, but the Spaniard has won 2 of their 3 meetings on clay courts and should be able to beat him at this stage of their respective careers.

MY OUTRIGHT PICKS: Tomas Berdych @ 6.50 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Milos Raonic @ 4.50 Stan James (1 Unit) Just as I was about to place this pick, I noticed that Raonic has pulled out of the 4th Rubber in the Davis Cup tie with France and is suffering with a knee issue that could rule him out of this tournament... PICK CANCELLED and I won't be picking another player in the tournament now.

Nicolas Almagro @ 4.33 Stan James (1 Unit)

Davis Cup: 2-3, - 2.4 Units (10 Units Staked, - 24% yield)

2012 Season: + 20.88 Units (87 Units Staked, + 24% yield)
2011 Season: + 82.02 Units

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick note... I have been writing this preview of the tournaments coming up during the evening and just read up about Milos Raonic being forced to pull out from the Canadian Davis Cup tie with France due to an injury.

    I am not going to put the pick on him to win the ATP San Jose title now as his participation in that tournament is in some doubt