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Friday, 18 May 2012

Tennis Picks May 18th (Rome)

Wow, was I frustrated yesterday... I couldn't believe the manner in which some of my picks went down and openly questioned whether the tournament had moved from Rome to Bizzaro World with some of the results and performances that were being put in.

You can't blame me for thinking that we had moved to an alternate reality as Richard Gasquet saved 15 out of 17 break points he faced- this is a player that has regularly struggled under pressure, yet managed to continuously fend off Andy Murray and managed to stay on serve... On another day he would have been beaten comfortably, but that was not to be today.

I then saw the Sam Stosur pick go down the drain as one of the best servers on the WTA Tour managed to win less than 50% of the points on serve.

Things were only due to get stranger as Juan Martin Del Potro blew a break advantage in the first set and was comfortably beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, not exactly a major force on the clay courts usually.

Fortunately, I can at least point to the fact that Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal have both advanced in the tournament, although Victoria Azarenka had to withdraw with an injury and is in serious danger of missing the French Open.

The season so far has been very productive, but this has been a terrible last 24 hours and I did consider whether I would make any more picks this week and just move on to the next tournaments while the outright picks ran. However, I have decided to play a couple of the Quarter Final matches on slate tomorrow and look for an upturn of fortunes.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Tomas Berdych: The spread does look a little big considering the form that Tomas Berdych has shown on the clay courts over the last couple of seasons, but the big Czech player was very fortunate to get past Nicolas Almagro in the last Round and I don't think Rafael Nadal will be in such forgiving form.

Nadal was vocal about his disgust of having to play on a blue court in Madrid last week, particularly as the event is so close to Roland Garros, and he has looked like a player that is making a point now that he has returned to the traditional red clay courts. He comfortably progressed in the first two matches here and has always been a little more motivated when playing Berdych after their falling out in Madrid a few years ago.

The Spaniard has won all 9 meetings between the players since that match in Madrid, while he has demolished Berdych the last two times they have played on a clay court.

If Berdych serves as he did today, he will give Nadal too many chances and that should allow him to cover the spread.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Richard Gasquet: No, I am not just fading Richard Gasquet in this one, because I don't think he can show the same kind of resolve in this match as he did against Andy Murray yesterday.

I really would have backed David Ferrer to beat Andy Murray at this stage too if they had met as I think he is one of the more solid clay court players out there and I think he will give Gasquet fits with his game.

That has proven to be the case in the past with Ferrer taking 6 of their 7 meetings on the Tour, including a simple straight sets win at the Australian Open earlier this season.

The Spaniard has generally taken the sets he has won off Gasquet with a little bit of room to spare, holding him to 3 or fewer games in 9 of the 13 sets Ferrer has won against the Frenchman.

There is also every chance that Gasquet could have a let down performance after his big win today and all of that points to me taking Ferrer to cover the spread.

Na Li - 4.5 games v Dominika Cibulkova: Dominika Cibulkova was the immediate beneficiary of Victoria Azarenka's withdrawal, but the longer term player that could capitalise is Na Li who has a chance to move up the Rankings above Caroline Wozniacki if she can get through this match.

Na Li is the current French Open Champion so her credentials on a clay court don't need to be stated. However, she can be frustrating to watch as she mixes the sublime with the ridiculous far too often, but she does have the talent to beat Cibulkova in this one.

The diminutive Slovakian is a tough competitor and she did reach the Final in Barcelona recently, but a more recent defeat to Akgul Amanmuradova is much more troublesome.

Li has won the only two meetings with Cibulkova in the past, including on a clay court in their last meeting back in 2010. I expect the Chinese Number 1 will be too good today, but she could make things a little tougher for herself than they should be with her inconsistency.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games @ 2.14 Pinnacle (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 4.5 games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Na Li - 4.5 games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-10, - 4.22 Units (35 Units Staked)

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