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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tennis Picks (February 16th)

It was a very productive day yesterday as all four picks I made came through to the winner's enclosure and turned around what had been a pretty poor week up until that point.

While that was a welcome change in fortunes, the surprise exit of Roger Federer has opened the door for Juan Martin Del Potro in Rotterdam, the outright pick I had made at the start of the week. The Argentine is now the favourite to win the event, although he will have to be careful against Grigor Dimitrov today in the Semi Final.

Other good news was David Nalbandian fighting through to the Semi Final in Sao Paulo after being Nicolas Almagro in three tough sets. Everyone who reads this will know that Nalbandian is my favourite player of the last few years and this win will ensure he will not be dropping out of the top 100 and he should also be making his way up the Rankings.

Another win today would be very good and would make up for the points he lost at Queens last season when his points were taken away for the default he suffered in the Final.

It is Semi Final day today in all the events around the World and the draws for the next tournaments will also be released at some point during the course of the day so it is a busy day. Here are my picks:

Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: Juan Martin Del Potro has made pretty serene progress through the week so far and I am liking him to get through this Semi Final against Grigor Dimitrov, a player that has been forced to win a couple of deciders already including in the Quarter Final against Marcos Baghdatis yesterday.

Dimitrov has been impressive and there are definite signs that the young Bulgarian is going to make a serious move up the Rankings, but I saw a couple of signs from his match with Baghdatis that suggests he will not quite be good enough against Del Potro in this one.

I still think Dimitrov is not pro-active enough when he has the advantage in rallies and he also seems to go through phases where he is not picking the correct shot, all elements that come with experience and physical maturity. Facing someone who hits as big as Del Potro can and the consistency the Argentine can play with might be a little too hard for Dimitrov to break down in this one and I think it will be Del Potro who creates the more break point opportunities.

Del Potro should have the edge in most aspects of this match and I can see him getting away from Dimitrov after what is likely to be a tough opening set.

Gilles Simon v Julien Benneteau: I am a little surprised that Gilles Simon is considered the underdog in this contest and am of the belief that it could be down to the fact that Julien Benneteau beat Roger Federer last night.

It was an impressive performance from Benneteau and one I didn't think was coming after the easy progress Federer had made through the draw at that stage. However, maybe Benneteau has something intangible when he plays the former World Number 1 having beaten him on the indoor courts in Paris a few years ago and having a two set lead at Wimbledon last season before succumbing in five sets.

Benneteau has certainly made some waves early in the 2013 calender with this being his second Semi Final of the season and he does hold a solid 10-4 record, but it will be interesting to see how he can build on his big win from last night.

Facing Gilles Simon, who was up late in a three set win, is not an easy match up for Benneteau as his compatriot certainly can make him play one more ball than he may like and force errors from the Benneteau game.

Simon has the stamina to take Benneteau into the deep waters in this one and while he isn't the player he was four years ago, he still has enough about him to think he can make the underdog status pay in this one. It has been a good start to 2013 for Simon too and he does hold the 4-2 head to head record, despite losing their last meeting in Australia last season.

I'm guessing this will be close, but Simon to do enough to come through in 3 sets is my call.

Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: Victoria Azarenka may have lost her position as World Number 1, but she will feel she can still prove a lot by retaining her title from twelve months ago and I expect her to be fully focused on this match.

Azarenka has a big 12-3 lead in the head to head with Agnieszka Radwanska and I am expecting her to continue her recent dominance of the Pole against whom she has won 10 sets in a row, mainly in devastatingly easy fashion.

The problem in this match up for Radwanska is Azarenka's consistency off the ground, an area that Radwanska can exploit against 99% of players on the WTA Tour. With Azarenka not making mistakes, it forces Radwanska to push a little more with her own shots, while Azarenka also has the heavier shots allowing her to dictate the tempo of the match.

Both are in excellent form, but Azarenka has the confidence of having won here before and also from her Australian Open win and I think she will be able to come through with a 6-3, 6-3 win.

Serena Williams - 4.5 games v Maria Sharapova: These two players clearly don't have a lot of time for one another and there is definitely an edge when they play one another- another interesting element is the fact that Maria Sharapova is dating Grigor Dimitrov, a person who was romantically linked to Serena Williams just six months ago.

Serena came through a tough battle with Petra Kvitova last night and I do wonder if that was down to the fact that if she won, she would become the oldest Women's World Number 1 in history and whether achieving that goal had made her tentative and a little too emotional.

I don't expect the same today and think Serena will be a lot more focused on this match against an opponent that hasn't beaten her since 2004 and against whom Williams has won 9 matches in a row.

Most of the recent battles have been very one sided in favour of Williams and I don't know what Sharapova will change in her game plan to turn things around in her favour. The Russian believes her 'A' game can beat anyone so I think she will come out and play as she always does and I believe Serena will be a little too strong for her and a little too consistent.

The last four Williams wins have been extremely one sided and I have a feeling this could end up going the same way.

Sam Querrey v Milos Raonic: I am going to take a small interest in the American to surprise Milos Raonic in this one and move through to the Final as the underdog in this Semi Final.

Sam Querrey has the serve that can win him a lot of cheap points in this match and while Raonic will do the same, this is clearly a match that could be decided by literally one or two points per set.

Querrey has the 2-0 head to head record against Raonic and that mental edge could prove to be the difference, especially as both wins came last season including indoors at the Paris Masters in November. However, the statistics from their matches show there isn't a lot between them and that makes me wonder why Querrey is the big underdog in this one.

I am aware that Raonic has owned this tournament with back to back wins in the last couple of seasons, but Querrey looks under-rated and may just pay off backing the dog.

MY PICKS: Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Gilles Simon @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 4.5 Games @ 2.15 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sam Querrey @ 2.63 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Weekly Update: 8-7, + 2.54 Units (29 Units Staked, 8.76% Yield)

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