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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tennis Picks May 17th (Rome)

Anyone who reads my Twitter account knows I was talking about Caroline Wozniacki earlier- it very much seems to be that she is going to be the latest former World Number 1 who loses all confidence as soon as she is knocked off that position, much in the same manner that Dinara Safina did.

I am not a big Wozniacki fan... In fact, I think she is very over-rated and has not received half the criticism that she should have because she is considered 'attractive' unlike Dinara Safina who was hounded in many sections for being the 'worst number 1 in history'.

It's funny, I always tell people to compare Wozniacki's record with Safina and explain why it is the Russian that gets all the criticism when she was much more successful in the big Grand Slam tournaments than Wozniacki has been.

But something strange happened today and much attitude towards the Dane softened a little bit. I don't like sportsmen or women to completely lose control of their game because their confidence has been shot to pieces, but I think that is what has happened to Wozniacki. It is almost like losing the World Number 1 status has made her doubt herself and her own ability to match up against the best players on the Tour.

I know she retired with an injury today, but she has already lost 10 times this season having lost a total of 17 throughout the 2011 and 2010 seasons. Since the Australian Open, Wozniacki has beaten Serena Williams once but the is the only really impressive win, while she has also lost to the American as well as Angelique Kerber (twice), Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Julia Goerges and Lucie Safarova and I just feel some of those names would not have beaten the Dane if she was the World Number 1.

Wozniacki has also failed to win a tournament so far in the 2012 season and it is going to be interesting to see if she recovers from these setbacks, or falls irreversibly down the Rankings.

The picks I made yesterday sucked... The first two came in, but then three straight losers left me with a loss and has made this tournament very unprofitable so far. However, I can at least smile at the thought that all three outright picks are still moving ahead in the draw, although Serena Williams is looking a big threat in the Women's draw.

It is another packed schedule in Rome tomorrow as we reach the Third Round of the Men's and Women's events and my picks are as follows:

Nicolas Almagro v Tomas Berdych: These two acted a lot more civilised in their last meeting at Indian Wells which followed their handbags at the Australian Open, but the one thing to take from that match was how motivated Nicolas Almagro seemed to be compared with his opponent.

Berdych had played a lot of tennis going into that event at Indian Wells and struggled to cope with the motivation Almagro played with and I have a feeling the amount of tennis the Czech player over the last two weeks may catch up with him here.

Berdych did well to reach the Final in Madrid last week, and perhaps should have won the event, and he may just get caught out here. He also had a tough match yesterday against Lukasz Kubot and I think Almagro has a lot more belief these days that he can beat top 10 opponents.

The Spaniard won their last meeting on a clay court last season in straight sets and I think the 2.75 looks far too big a price that he can win this one.

Andy Murray - 3.5 games v Richard Gasquet: Andy Murray blows hot and cold so much that you don't know how easy he is going to make this early Rounds at any event, but playing the likes of David Nalbandian and now Richard Gasquet should get his competitive juices flowing and keep him focused on the task at hand.

Richard Gasquet is one of the players that has failed to live up to the expectation others had in him, while I don't think he can honestly say he has gotten the best out of his talent. He is a former Grand Slam Semi Finalist, but many expected him to be winning those events.

The Frenchman doesn't seem to have the confidence when facing the best players on the Tour, while generally handling those he believes he is better than with general ease, and his tactics seem far too passive to really cause problems for too long.

Andy Murray has the returning skills to cause Gasquet problems on serve and should be able to cover this spread as long as he doesn't serve like a chump.

Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may be the higher ranked player of the two, but it is Juan Martin Del Potro who is the better clay court player and I think he will be able to take advantage of that fact here in Rome.

Losses to the likes of Tommy Haas and Gilles Simon on the surface doesn't bode well for Tsonga who does his best work on the faster surfaces. However, he is 5-1 down in the head to head to Del Potro and all but one of those has come on a hard court.

Del Potro also hammered Tsonga at the French Open, losing just 13 games as he progressed in 2009. The Argentine has played a lot of tennis in recent weeks, but he played to a high level when beating Mikhail Youzhny last night and will be confident he can get to yet another Quarter Final this season.

Sam Stosur - 2.5 games v Venus Williams: I like the Australian to get through against a tough opponent in Venus Williams and that is mainly because Sam Stosur will believe she can get the better of the American.

Belief cannot be under-estimated when it comes to playing the Williams sisters and we have seen that with Serena Williams who has an aura that makes it tough for other players to face her.

Venus has a similar aura, but is older and players feel she has maybe lost a step. All of this won't matter to Stosur who does feel she can beat anyone on her day.

Stosur beat Venus Williams on an American clay court last month and I just think the Australian is too solid on the clay courts for the older Williams sister. I don't like backing against the Williams', but this does look a good spot to do so.

Maria Sharapova - 3.5 games v Ana Ivanovic: Ana Ivanovic frustrates the life out of me as she is one of the players that I can never get a great read on- if I think she will win, she loses, but when I think she is going to lose, she plays out of her skin and wins.

So beware when I say that, as I am taking her on with Maria Sharapova, one of the form players and one who has come to embrace the clay courts after really struggling to deal with her movement on the surface in the past.

Reaching the Semi Final at the French Open last year has given her real belief, while winning the tournament in Stuttgart by beating Victoria Azarenka would only have built on her confidence. It took a solid performance by Serena Williams to beat Sharapova last week in Madrid, and I don't think Ivanovic can sustain such a level to win this match.

Ivanovic is definitely making a move the right way in the World Rankings, but she still has to overcome some mental barriers to beat a player of Sharapova's class, while she has lost her last three meetings against her. She did overcome the Russian in their one and only clay court meeting, but that was over 5 years ago and I think Sharapova proves too strong in a well-contested match.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Almagro @ 2.75 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Andy Murray - 3.5 games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 2.5 games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 3.5 games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-6, + 0.68 Units (26 Units Staked)

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