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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tennis Picks (February 12th)

Today is the day that the majority of the tennis tournaments really get going and that does mean there are a lot of matches going on in the various events around the World. You can find my outright picks here.

All of the events have kicked off and we already have seen one of the big surprises in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga being knocked out of the ATP tournament in Rotterdam in three sets by Igor Sijsling. Tsonga had his chances to win in straight sets, but it was the Dutchman that ended up coming out on top and it has certainly cleared the path to the Final for Roger Federer who will play his First Round match on Wednesday.

Tuesday will see the return to action of the likes of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams in the Women's events and Juan Martin Del Potro's match against Gael Monfils has also been scheduled this evening so plenty of big names to enjoy.

Michael Llodra v Julien Benneteau: This is an interesting match between two Frenchmen in which I am not quite sure why Michael Llodra is the underdog against Julien Benneteau.

Llodra's best tennis is reserved for the faster courts and the indoor hard courts should suit his game against his friend and often Doubles partner. He should be able to put more pressure on the Benneteau serve of the two players and he also holds a 3-1 head to head record against his compatriot, including 2 wins on the indoor hard courts.

Benneteau is no slouch, but he was worrying about a slight back problem against Richard Gasquet last week and I just think the outsider has to be backed in this one, although there is a chance we could see a three set contest.

Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 games v Monica Niculescu: There is nothing surprising in saying that Jelena Jankovic is not the same player of a few seasons ago, but she should still be far too good for a player of Monica Niculescu's calibre.

Jankovic had dominated Niculescu in their previous meetings, winning all 5 on the professional Tour and winning every set including a 6-2, 6-1 win in Beijing last season.

Niculescu has a very 'grimy' game- she plays with a lot of variation and looks to befuddle her opponents, but Jankovic can play the exact same way but with a little more conviction behind her shots.

That should prove to be the difference again between the players even if Jankovic is not as solid as she has been in her career, but it should be enough for the Serb to cover this spread.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Guido Pella: Fabio Fognini is a frustrating character to back as he simply puts in too many matches where the effort is not at the necessary level to really have a impact on the ATP Tour.

However, he is playing an opponent he has beaten before and one that is still getting used to playing at the main level in professional tennis. Guido Pella has been raised on the clay courts and has Challenger wins on the surface, but facing someone of the level of Fognini should be a little too much for him just yet.

Fognini did only manage an 11-10 record on the clay courts last season, but I think he will be a little too good in both sets to see him through in this one. There should be a few breaks of serve and I am hoping the Italian doesn't put in a lacklustre display as is his want from time to time.

As a former Semi Finalist and Quarter Finalist at this tournament, I hope Fognini comes out with some seriousness in this one with a chance of improving his Ranking with a decent run.

Carlos Berlocq - 4.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: These two players will be meeting for a second week in a row and I don't think the result will be too much different from the comfortable win for Carlos Berlocq that was recorded last week in Chile.

Berlocq has now won all 3 meetings with Andrey Kuznetsov, while the two meetings on the clay courts has seen the Russian win all of 5 games in 4 losing sets.

There is definitely an edge for Berlocq in terms of talent and experience on the slower clay courts and the Argentine is definitely the one who has been playing against the superior talent over the last couple of seasons.

Kuznetsov did win 4 Challenger titles on the clay courts last season so don't under-estimate him and I do suppose he wins a couple more games than last week when they met, although that should still enable Berlocq to cover.

Ryan Harrison - 3.5 games v Benjamin Becker: Benjamin Becker remains a couple wins short of reaching 100 career wins on the ATP Tour and I think the German will still be a couple wins short after the conclusion of this match with Ryan Harrison.

Harrison hasn't  played since his exit against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, and the American may only be ranked 4 places above Becker, but he did reach the Semi Final here in San Jose last season and has also beaten Becker in both of their previous meetings.

There have definitely been some signs that Harrison will progress up the World Rankings, although an injury cut his season short last year. The Semi Final appearance here last season was his first real success on an indoor hard court, but he has the consistency to hurt Becker who continues to throw in a poor service game per set.

The American has also won all 4 sets he has played against Becker and I can see him coming through with a 6-3, 7-6 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Michael Llodra @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Carlos Berlocq - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ryan Harrison - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet 365 (2 Units)

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