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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tennis Picks (February 20th)

The tournament in Buenos Aires is slightly behind schedule as much of Tuesday was rained out, although they are not too far behind that players are going to be asked to play twice on the same day. However, it does mean the David Nalbandian's match with Carlos Berlocq was moved to Wednesday.

Victoria Azarenka, unsurprisingly, pulled out of the tournament in Dubai after her success in Doha last week. That means Serena Williams is now the clear favourite to win this event and underline her status as World Number 1, although it will be interesting to see her motivation when she opens up her tournament on Wednesday.

Angelique Kerber v Roberta Vinci: Angelique Kerber will play her first match in Dubai against Roberta Vinci and I like the chances of the German progressing through to the next Round in this contest.

Kerber was comfortably beaten last week in Doha, but she has been speaking about her confidence going into this event in Dubai and I think we will see a much better performance against Vinci than she had against Mona Barthel. The difference between Vinci and Barthel is that the latter is capable of hitting opponents off the court, while Vinci will allow Kerber the chance to dictate the play.

Both players won 1 match against the other in 2012, the latest being Vinci's straight sets win in Montreal. However, I think Kerber will be able to have success against the Italian on this court and I do think she will have enough in her game to see off the threat Vinci poses.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see quite a few breaks of serve in this one, but I think the German will have enough to end on the right side of the scoreline.

Sam Stosur - 5.5 games v Su-Wei Hsieh: Sam Stosur played pretty well in her win over Ekaterina Makarova yesterday, especially behind her serve which was pretty effective for much of the match.

I think it is that serve that will prove to be the difference again as she faces Su-Wei Hsieh. I was surprised to see Hsieh is ranked at number 25 in the World Rankings, but much of that was down to tournament wins she had last season Guangzhou and Kuala Lumpur.

That does make me respect Hsieh and what she is capable of, but I can't help look at some of the heavy losses she has taken and wonder whether she will be able to hang with Stosur and the serve the Australian can produce.

As long as Stosur is as efficient as she was on the break point chances she created against Makarova, I can see her coming through with something like a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Ernests Gulbis + 3.5 games v Tomas Berdych: At the start of the week, I ruled out Tomas Berdych in the outright markets as I felt this potential Second Round match against Ernests Gulbis could catch him cold, so there is little surprise that I will be taking the games in this one.

I know Berdych pulled out of the tournament in Rotterdam because of a wrist injury, so it will be interesting to see how he is feeling in this one. He is playing an opponent that has looked good in the last week or so and looks motivated enough to put in a performance here.

Even if Berdych goes through, I do think there is every chance this one goes to three sets and that makes the games being offered on Gulbis look a touch too high in my opinion.

I just hope the 'good Gulbis' is still taking part in these events as 'bad Gulbis' is never too far away.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Nikolay Davydenko: I wasn't impressed with the early exit Jo-Wilfried Tsonga suffered last week in Rotterdam, especially as his game should be tailor made for the indoor hard courts. However, I am expecting a much better tournament for him this week in front of his own fans at an event he has won in the past and also reached the Semi Final last season.

It's not to under-estimate Nikolay Davydenko who has some big wins under his belt this season, and one who has 2 indoor hard court wins over Tsonga in the past. However, I think Tsonga will be able to put enough pressure on the Russian to force a couple of bad service games and that could be enough to see the Frenchman to cover the spread.

Tsonga has won 41 matches in the last couple of seasons on the indoor hard courts and also beat Davydenko in Metz on the surface last season and I do think he is able to record a 6-3, 6-4 win in this one and progress to the Quarter Finals.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: I thought this was going to be a spread of 5.5 games and still liked Nicolas Almagro's chances of winning the match and clearing that, so the 4.5 game spread is a bit of a bonus.

There is no doubt that Nicolas Almagro is one of the better clay court players in the World and I believe he is facing an opponent that hasn't quite got the temperament to be playing against the quality that Almagro will be providing.

Andrey Kuznetsov has certainly proved himself on the Challenger Tour on a clay court with a number of title wins last season on the surface, but he has generally fallen short when playing on the main ATP Tour. Last season he was dismissed comfortably by Fernando Verdasco on the clay, while Carlos Berlocq knocked him off easily two times in a row already this season.

The win over Filippo Volandri is a good one for Kuznetsov in the First Round, but Almagro is a different level of opponent and I would expect a 6-2, 6-4 win for the Spaniard.

Alexandr Dolgopolov - 4.5 games v Bjorn Phau: Usually I am not a big fan of backing Alexandr Dolgopolov as you just don't know what you are going to get out of the inconsistent Ukrainian.

However, he should have the big edge in talent in this one while Bjorn Phau is also coming in off a knee injury which has curtailed his start to the 2013 season. Even in matches Phau has completed, he has taken some comfortable losses and this one looks like a 3 and 4 win for Dolgopolov at worst.

Dolgopolov is hit and miss in his matches though, and that is a concern, especially as he hasn't played since the Davis Cup matches over two weeks ago so he could start a little slow.

However, he does look the superior player in this one and should be able to come through with a little room to spare.

MY PICKS: David Nalbandian - 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units) From Yesterday
Angelique Kerber @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 5.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis + 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Alexandr Dolgopolov - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-4, + 1.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 7.73% Yield)

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