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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 30th)

Victor Hanescu - 2.5 games v Rui Machado: Rui Machado will have the crowd behind him in this one and must be feeling a little better about his game having come through three rounds of qualifiers to reach this First Round match. He hasn't played a lot of tennis over the last few months due to injury and that has seen him slip outside of the top 300 in the World Rankings.

It isn't the easiest of matches to get going in the main draw as Victor Hanescu has always been very comfortable on the clay courts and is coming off a Quarter Final appearance last week in Bucharest.

The majority of Hanescu's main court wins over the last few seasons have come on the slower clay courts and I think he will be a little too battle hardened for Machado. There just isn't any substitute for playing competitive matches and Hanescu also possesses a bigger serve which should help find a way to hold on to serve a little more easier at times.

They have met twice before on the clay with both matches being won by Hanescu and I think he completes the hat-trick with a 6-3, 6-4 win in this First Round match.

Horacio Zeballos - 2.5 games v Gastao Elias: Gastao Elias is a young Portuguese player who has experienced a lot of success on the clay courts in his career, but almost exclusively at the Challenger level and it will be interesting to see how he copes with a Main Tour draw in this match. He was invited to play in the First Round here last season, but ended up being beaten in three sets against one of his compatriots and this is likely to be a tougher test.

However, Horacio Zeballos has spent a lot of time losing matches since surprising Rafael Nadal in the Final at Vina Del Mar earlier this season when the Spaniard was making his return to the Tour after the injury suffered at Wimbledon.

It does seem that Zeballos has perhaps struggled to cope with having a target on his back after that win and he is just 3-7 since. That has to be a concern for me, although I don't think Elias is perhaps at the level to take advantage.

They have met three times before in their careers so both should be familiar with one another and although all of those matches have needed three sets to separate them and it is Zeballos that leads 2-1, I think the Argentinian can perhaps do enough to cover this spread in this one.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Monica Puig: Julia Goerges was very unfortunate to lose against Petra Kvitova last week in Stuttgart, but she showed enough form to think she is capable of seeing of Monica Puig in the First Round here.

It was the clay courts where Goerges really began making a name for herself on the WTA Tour a couple of seasons ago and she is clearly very comfortable playing on this surface. While that is the case, it hasn't been a good start to the 2013 season in general for the German and she has suffered a couple of surprising losses.

However, her match up against a player that has not had a lot of experience at the highest level of the Women's game looks like a good one for Goerges to get started here in Portugal and I would expect her to come through some breaks of serve to record a 7-5, 6-3 win.

MY PICKS: Victor Hanescu - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Horacio Zeballos - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet 365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.34 Units (4 Units Staked, - 8.5% Yield)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 29th)

I have made a couple of outright picks from the ATP tournaments in Portugal and Germany this week which can be found here

Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2.5 games v Varvara Lepchenko: I think it would be very foolish to rule out Varvara Lepchenko on the clay courts considering she has beaten the likes of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci on this surface this season. However, I do think Svetlana Kuznetsova is still more happy on the slower terrain and I do believe she can come through this tough First Round match.

My one real concern is that Kuznetsova hasn't played any tennis since Miami last month, although she has a real chance of being one of the seeds at the French Open with a couple of big runs in the next two weeks and that should be big enough motivation to see her through this match.

The left-handed Lepchenko could also cause some early problems and the Russian has also been complaining about the wind in Portugal. As long as these issues don't cause too many mental breakdowns, I think Kuznetsova comes through the match.

Daniel Brands - 3.5 games v Tobias Kamke: The battle of two home town players should be a decent one, but I would expect Daniel Brands to be a little too strong for Tobias Kamke.

Brands has the bigger serve and any time you can get a few cheaper points on serve can only be a benefit, while Kamke can be very erratic at times and go through phases in a match where he makes a number of unforced errors.

It is those unforced errors that will give Brands a chance on his opponent's serve and while both players have enjoyed some success on the clay courts off the Main Tour, it is Brands that seems to have been able to transfer that form to the highest level of competition.

I'd expect Brands to find a way to grab a break advantage in both sets here.

MY PICKS: Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Daniel Brands - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Tennis Outright Picks 2013 (April 29-May 5)

We are now less than a month away from the French Open so this week is the last one where the main players on both Tours decide to take off. After this, both Tours head to Madrid and Rome for the big tournaments at Masters and Premier level and then there will be just the eight days until the French Open will begin.

This week we have a joint tournament taking place in Portugal and another ATP event in Munich.

ATP Portugal Open
The Number 1 seed in at this tournament is David Ferrer and it is hard to look beyond the World Number 4 in the field that has come together for the Portugal Open this season. He was surprisingly beaten in his first match at the Barcelona Open last week against Dmitry Tursunov, but David Ferrer is certainly very capable of running some form together as proven by his title win in Buenos Aires earlier this season.

The draw seems to be kind to Ferrer here as he receives a bye in the First Round thanks to being one of the top four seeds here in Portugal and I don't think he will be too worried by any of the names in the top half.

The biggest danger may just be Tommy Robredo in the top half of the draw, but Ferrer has been too good for his veteran compatriot over the last twelve months and I would back the World Number 4 to be too battle hardened and consistent for Robredo.

I am not surprised that Stanislas Wawrinka is considered the second favourite, but Ferrer has a solid head to head record against him and I would back the Spaniard in that one. Other names in the bottom half like Fabio Fognini and Horacio Zeballos have had success on the clay courts, but neither would feel they have a favourable match up with Ferrer the Number 1 seed has to be the pick at odds against in this field.

ATP Munich
One of the more open tournaments in recent times takes place in Munich and it says a lot that the field is priced at 5.50 or better. There are plenty of big names in the draw and I have a feeling that backing a home favourite to come through the draw may pay dividends this week.

Philipp Kohlschreiber has won this event twice already in his career, including last season, and he has reached at least the Quarter Final in five of his last six appearances here. The German is in the better half of the draw here and receives a bye in the First Round which may give him enough of an edge to come through the top half.

His main rivals are Mikhail Youzhny and Janko Tipsarevic, but there are some doubts about the chances of both of those players and Kohlschreiber looks the most likely to take advantage of those doubts.

The bottom half of the draw looks a lot more loaded with the likes of Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Haas, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Marin Cilic all involved in the section. Cilic has enjoyed a lot of success in the tournament without quite winning it, but this is a really tough half of the draw and I think taking Kohlschreiber each way is the best way to be involved in this tournament.

MY PICKS: David Ferrer @ 2.25 William Hill (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber @ 8.00 Bet Victor (1 Unit E/W)

Daily Picks10-5, + 8.18 Units (28 Units Staked, + 29.21% Yield)
Outright Picks: 0-1, - 2 Units (2 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

Season 2013+ 41.28 Units (517 Units Staked, + 7.98% Yield)

Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Weekend Football Picks (April 27-29)

Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: It was a vital last 15 minutes for Tottenham Hotspur last week as they turned around a 0-1 deficit against Manchester City and won the game 3-1 to stay in contention for a place in the Premier League top four.

That was a huge result for Spurs as they managed to close the gap to 2 points to Arsenal in 3rd with a game in hand to play and that will give the confidence to the players that they are capable of taking away one of the Champions League positions.

On the other hand, it was a terrible week for Wigan Athletic who not just lost at West Ham United, but saw a lot of their rivals earn big wins as the likes of Sunderland, Norwich City and Stoke City all picked up three points to move clear of the relegation zone. It looks like it will be a fight between Wigan and Aston Villa for the final relegation spot and with Villa hosting Sunderland, that makes this game even more important for the home side not to fall too far behind with games running out.

Both teams will need the three points and there have been plenty of goals in their home/away games respectively in recent weeks. I can see both creating chances against the other and the fact that Spurs can rely on a few more of their attacking players makes me think the over 2.5 goals is the right call.

Newcastle United v Liverpool Pick: Luis Suarez was banned for the rest of the season and the start of next and it hasn't been the best time of the season for Liverpool as they end their campaign with a whimper rather than a bang.

I am actually surprised the layers have Newcastle United as the underdog in this game as I would have had the teams matched a little more evenly. Take away the 0-3 loss to Sunderland when Simon Mignolet had a blinder, and Newcastle United have been winning a fair few games at home over the last couple of months.

I just think the absence of Suarez does make Liverpool a little less of a threat going forward and I do think Newcastle have enough quality to fashion a couple of chances at least. As long as they fall to the right people, there is every chance the home side pick up the three points and they are worth a small interest.

Chelsea v Swansea Pick: The last few weeks have been tough for Swansea to focus after winning the Capital One Cup and I think they will find it tough at Stamford Bridge. Swansea did win here in their Capital One Cup run, but they have generally struggled for goals on their travels in the top flight and that may be the case again.

Chelsea have put one put into the Europa League Final thanks to their win in Switzerland on Thursday, but they are also in a very strong position to finish  in the top four in the Premier League and I don't think they will want to damage that without putting in the work here.

The rotation does make it hard to keep tabs on what Chelsea side will come out, but I do think they will win this game and are likely to do it with a clean sheet to boot.

Arsenal v Manchester United Pick: The Champions come to North London in what is always an important game and I do think Manchester United will have serious intentions of picking up the three points despite what the layers may think.

The absence of Olivier Giroud is a problem for Arsenal, but they are clearly still a team that has goals in the side, while Robin Van Persie will secretly be hoping to get his own chances I am sure. Van Persie has 5 goals in his last 3 games for United and will know the best way to get through this defence having seen them in training over the last few years.

I would be surprised if we don't see goals in the game and I think a 2-1 scoreline either way is definitely a player. However, there have also been a few 1-3 wins for United and a 2-2 draw in recent games between United and Arsenal at the Emirates so a small interest in over 3.5 goals.

MY PICKS: Wigan Athletic-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Newcastle United @ 3.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Chelsea Win to Nil @ 2.40 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Arsenal-Manchester United Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.75 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

April Update8-19, - 11.65 Units (39 Units Staked, - 29.87% Yield)

March Final16-20, + 7.43 Units (55 Units Staked, + 13.51% Yield)
February Final14-23, - 2.81 Units (48 Units Staked, - 5.85% Yield)
January Final10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% Yield)
December Final17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 12.57 Units (351 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 26th)

The weather in Barcelona took a downward swing on Thursday and the forecast for the rest of the week has to be a worry for the tournament organisers. With some players having to do double time on Friday, it does make me wonder how they will manage to get through the tournament, especially with rain pretty much scheduled for the next few days.

That also means the pick made on Kei Nishikori has been left in limbo although he is scheduled to go on court second time tomorrow. Hopefully he will remain focused on getting some more playing time on the clay courts, but it is a wait and see moment with so much rain in the air and players perhaps having other things scheduled from Monday onwards.

Lukas Rosol v Victor Troicki: I backed Victor Troicki earlier this week, but he wasn't convincing in his win over Tobias Kamke, despite the scoreline. I think he is not playing with a lot of confidence and someone like Lukas Rosol could really get under his skin, especially if his serve is working effectively.

Rosol is likely to be forever known for his win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2012 than anything else he does on a tennis court and I do have a feeling that will be his high point in his career. However, he is capable of serving big and that could frustrate a player like Troicki who is unlikely to play himself into too much of a rhythm.

With only 2 Ranking positions between these two players, it is no real surprise that this is a pick 'em contest. I just feel Rosol will get the freer service games when it is all said and done and can move through, although I will restrict the units.

Victor Hanescu v Florian Mayer: Victor Hanescu has had a couple of decent wins under his belt in his home tournament and I think there is every chance he can back that up with a third win against Florian Mayer.

In my view, Hanescu has the more potent serve of the two players and he is equally happy playing on the clay courts as is Mayer. Getting  few more cheap points on serve will act as a good foundation for Hanescu to build off and I also think he will have a few more opportunities to get invovled in the Mayer service games.

The one concern is that the Romanian hasn't played Mayer since 2007 so may not be in a good rhythm early on in the contest as Mayer uses a lot of slice and variation in his play. This is another pick 'em contest that could go the three set distance, but one where the home crowd can push their man through to the Semi Finals.

MY PICKS: Lukas Rosol @ 2.00 Stan James (1 Unit)
Victor Hanescu @ 2.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units) Advised Yesterday

Weekly Update: 9-3, + 10.18 Units (24 Units Staked, + 42.42% Yield)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 25th)

Janko Tipsarevic - 2.5 games v Santiago Giraldo: I think Janko Tipsarevic made a telling comment last week after his exit at Monte Carlo when he stated this is 'more than about forehands and backhands now'... It is clear that his poor recent form is beginning to affect him mentally and he is not feeling particularly confident at the moment, but I think there is a bit of value taking him to win this match today.

Anyone who has seen Santiago Giraldo play will know that he is a player capable of hitting opponents off the court when he gets going, like he did to Juan Carlos Ferrero a couple of seasons ago in Rome. However, he can be up and down in his performances and while happy on the clay courts, I think he has the game that will help Tipsarevic get going too.

I think Giraldo can help by making a few unforced errors and I think the fact that Tipsarevic is here in Bucharest suggests he is trying to work his way into some form by playing in a weaker tournament than the one taking place in Barcelona.

This will surely be tight at times, but I think Tipsarevic is too big a price to ignore and can move through to the Quarter Final.

Petra Kvitova - 3.5 games v Julia Goerges: I have picked Petra Kvitova as my sole outright pick from the weeks tennis, but I think she is worth taking to see off Julia Goerges in this Third Round match.

It took some guts to see off Annika Beck in the last Round, but Kvitova has been playing some solid tennis in recent weeks, while still not quite at the level that brought her the Wimbledon title a  couple of years ago. However, I think she is playing at a decent enough level to see off Goerges.

The German has recently recovered from an injury and hasn't been in the best form in recent weeks. Goerges also had a down season on the slower clay courts last season after a breakthrough time on the surface in 2011 and I just think Kvitova can exert enough pressure to see her off.

I would not be surprised if we see a few breaks of serve in the contest, but I do think Kvitova can be the one that comes out on top and will be able to cover the spread.

Ana Ivanovic - 3.5 games v Nadia Petrova: The slower surfaces don't particularly suit Nadia Petrova so much as her movement is not always the best and that is exposed on the clay where she is likely to have to play one more shot.

Petrova is also facing a tough opponent in Ana Ivanovic who is capable of hitting the ball as hard as Petrova and is slighly better on moving on this surface, although her own movement is not exactly inspiring at times.

I am not surprised that Ivanovic has won the last 3 matches between these players on the clay courts and she has shown some good form in beating Mona Barthel and Angelique Kerber on this surface over the last week. I think the Serbian former French Open winner will come through 7-5, 6-3.

Kei Nishikori - 3.5 games v Albert Ramos: Albert Ramos is a solid competitor these days, but I think he is still capable of making too many unforced errors and that can be exposed by someone like Kei Nishikori.

It is tough to hit through Nishikori when you're at the top of the Rankings, so the players lower down don't have the consistency to really get through him as much. I was not surprised to see that Nishikori beat Ramos twice last season on the clay courts and I think he will likely be a little too consistent again.

The young Japanese star is Number 15 in the World Rankings at the moment, but I could see him closing to the top 10 in the next six weeks or so as he has nothing to defend in terms of points. That means he will look for a good run here in Barcelona before following it up with big performances in Madrid and Rome and the French Open and that will likely start with a 7-5, 6-3 win in this match.

MY PICKS: Janko Tipsarevic - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-2, + 8.54 Units (18 Units Staked, + 47.44% Yield)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 24th)

There may be a lot of tennis matches going on around the various tournaments across the World on this Wednesday, but that doesn't mean I have found a lot of decent shots.

I find there are a lot of question marks around some of the players, but not enough that I like their opponents either, while some of the pick 'em contests really have only enough room for a cigarette paper could just about be placed between the players.

The layers have been a touch lazy at the moment so the full markets for the Barcelona matches have not been priced up, so any picks from that tournament will be added in the morning.

Victor Troicki - 1.5 games v Tobias Kamke: I know how badly Victor Troicki has been playing this season so far, but I still think he should be a heavier favourite to see of Tobias Kamke, a player that struggles at this level and one who is hardly pulling up trees himself.

Troicki will also have picked up some confidence from a win over Marinko Matosevic in the First Round here in Bucharest and he has shown some form on the clay courts in the past, even if the last twelve months have been tough work for him. 

He served well in the First Round and if he can bring that in to this match, I would like his chances to outbreak Kamke in the match. While Kamke is getting more accustomed to playing in Main Tour events, I think he looks like a player that would favour the faster surfaces as some of his unforced error making tendencies can be hidden behind some big winners.

Kamke doesn't have that luxury on the clay and losing to Troicki on the hard courts earlier this season may not give the German enough to keep tabs with him here either.

Marcel Granollers - 3.5 games v Blaz Kavcic: This might be his hometown, but Marcel Granollers has never really performed in Barcelona, although he couldn't have asked for a better match in this Second Round than the one he has.

If Granollers wins, it will be his best result in Barcelona, which is a surprise considering the clay courts should be to his liking. His opponent, Blaz Kavcic, has won a match here already but has spent a lot of time losing in recent weeks on the Tour, while he finished with a poor 2-8 record on the clay courts last season.

I don't particularly trust Granollers as he can fade and start producing error after error, but I think he has enough experience of the clay courts to see of Kavcic in this match.

Benoit Paire v Pablo Andujar: This has been set as a pick 'em contest and it is hard to separate the two players, although I do believe there is more upside in the Benoit Paire game and I think he should be the slightly stronger favourite.

While Pablo Andujar has had success almost solely on the clay courts in his career, it would be foolish to write off someone with Paire's own ability on the surface. I also think he has the slightly better serve which will offer up a few more free points than his opponent and the belief will also be behind Paire having won both previous matches over the last twelve months.

This match does have all the features of what could be a three setter, but I like the Frenchman to come out on top and move through to the Third Round.

MY PICKS: Victor Troicki - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marcel Granollers - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Benoit Paire @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-2, + 2.90 Units (12 Units Staked, + 24.17% Yield)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 23rd)

Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v Nikolay Davydenko: It was a poor performance by Tomas Berdych that cost him his match with Fabio Fognini last week in Monte Carlo and he does have to overcome a 10-2 head to head record against Nikolay Davydenko. However, he has won 2 of the last 3 matches between the players and it has to be remembered that their meetings actually came at a time when Davydenko was one of the more solid and better players on Tour, especially compared with Berdych.

While Davydenko is still capable to give some of the best players a run, his consistency and stamina is not at the same level of a couple of seasons ago and I do think Berdych can exert enough pressure in this one to record a 6-3, 7-6 win and move onto the Third Round.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 2.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: Philipp Kohlschreiber can be very up and down with his performances and that would be a concern when it comes to covering spreads as shown last week when he lost a set of tennis to Pablo Andujar 6-2. However, the experience of being back on the clay courts at Monte Carlo should put the German in better stead in this one and I do like his chances to progress.

I don't want to disregard Andrey Kuznetsov as he is clearly a player getting more comfortable in being in the same draw as some of the better professionals on the Tour. However, he has struggled to take his Challenger form into the Main Tour events and that is what could let him down again.

The Russian may have enough to take a set, but I do think Kohlschreiber will be a little too tough at the moment and will record a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win.

Victor Hanescu - 2.5 games v Matthias Bachinger: These two players met last week in the qualifiers for Monte Carlo and it was Victor Hanescu who sneaked through as he took the chances that came his way, while Matthias Bachinger couldn't convert his own.

It was a tight match that could have gone either way really, despite the straight sets win for Hanescu, but I do think the Romanian can back up that win by getting another in front of his own fans in this one. If he can serve slightly better, I think he will get chances on the Bachinger serve and he can make it two out of two against him in a little over a week between matches.

However, it has to be remembered that Bachinger was a Semi Finalist here last year so won't be overawed by the surroundings, although he may have to settle for a 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 loss.

Ana Ivanovic - 3.5 games v Andrea Petkovic: Ana Ivanovic is a former French Open Champion, but she has never really found the consistency to get back to that level and even improving her World Ranking from the 17 she is at has been an issue. There is no doubt that someone like Ivanovic would have a lot of interests outside of tennis with her looks, but I do think she wants to be known as a tennis player, unlike Anna Kournikova, but has struggled to maintain her level, even within matches.

Her serve can be a big liability, especially against the best players, while she can be erratic and wild with her groundies and that makes it tough to believe she will win another Grand Slam.

However, I think she will likely be too strong for Andrea Petkovic who continues to struggle with a calf injury, but is surely going to want to compete as much as she can in front of her home supporters. It has been a terrible twelve months of injuries for Petkovic who was really making some contributions to the WTA Tour, but she may just be found wanting in this match.

Ivanovic has enough in her locker to win this one in straight sets, perhaps recording a 6-4, 6-3 win.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Victor Hanescu - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.54 Units (4 Units Staked, - 13.5% Yield)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (April 22nd)

There is no doubt that it was the worst week of the season so far last week in regards to the picks as most of the top players struggled to get to grips with the change in surface. That led to a few surprise results and also some tight matches throughout the tournament at Monte Carlo, but now most players have had some time on the clay, I would expect the next two Masters tournaments in Madrid and Rome to be less erratic.

This week we have four tournaments, but I have only made the one outright pick which can be seen here

Monday is usually the quietest time on the Tour in non-Grand Slam/Masters weeks as most of the qualifiers are concluded on this day. It isn't totally the case this week as we also have a 500 Tournament in Barcelona on the ATP Tour and that is where I have a couple of picks from today.

Robin Haase v Pablo Carreno-Busta: Robin Haase is not exactly the most trust-worthy player on the Tour as his play is usually so up and down that his opponent's will always have a chance to seize control of the match. However, the clay courts certainly look the surface where is most comfortable these days and I expect his experience to be too much for the young Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta.

Carreno-Busta is just trying to find his feet on the ATP Tour and he could just be a little green at the moment to beat Haase, even though he did record a win over Pablo Andujar a couple of weeks ago in Casablanca.

There is little doubt that Carreno-Busta will be comfortable on the clay courts, as all of the Spanish players would be, but he is playing someone who is capable themselves on the surface and should be able to move through as long as he can hold things together mentally.

Pablo Andujar - 2.5 games v Grega Zemlja: In the early Rounds of tournaments, there are always erratic players going along, mainly because their inconsistencies have them ranked too low to receive byes in the First Round. Pablo Andujar is one such player that has won a title on the clay courts last season, but it also capable of throwing in absolutely shocking match which sees him struggle or beaten by an opponent he should really be dealing with.

That is hopefully not going to be the case as he meets Grega Zemlja in the First Round in Barcelona, where the Spaniard should get plenty of home support to motivate him further.

I do believe that Zemlja is a good First Round opponent for Andujar as he is not the best on the clay courts, even with a Challenger title to his name from last season and I expect the lower ranked player to be too strong on this day. Don't be surprised if this perhaps goes to three sets though, although I expect Andujar can come through 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

MY PICKS: Robin Haase @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Pablo Andujar - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Tennis Outright Picks 2013 (April 22-28)

The tournament in Monte Carlo is in the books and for the first time in over eight years, the engraver for the trophy will have to learn the spelling of a name other than Rafael Nadal.

It was a surprise that Novak Djokovic was able to knock off Nadal in the sense that his ankle had continued giving him trouble for much of the week, although he did say he was feeling better towards the back end of the week.

The win is a big statement ahead of the French Open, which will begin in a little over a month from now, and I think it is perfectly acceptable to declare Djokovic as the favourite for that title. He was close to winning at Roland Garros last season and I do think he is playing much more solid tennis at this moment in time, although the draw is going to be key with Rafael Nadal being a likely Number 5 seed at that tournament.

If Djokovic can avoid Nadal and be paired with David Ferrer in one half of the draw at the French Open, I would make him a big favourite to go all the way and complete the career Grand Slam. There are some dangerous players as lower seeds, like Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych, but Djokovic should be able to outlast them over a best of five set match and barring a surprise the World Number 1 would likely be in the Final.

Nadal has said at his press conference that he is not worried about this as it is just one loss, but Djokovic had begun to get the better of him in Masters tournaments on the clay ahead of the injury to Nadal last Summer. With the way things are going, I would make the Serb the favourite to take the title home at Roland Garros ahead of the draw.

The picks were not in great form last week and it has proved to be the worst week of the 2013 season so far as some luck was missing and there were just some simply bad picks. However, it remains a solid start to the season as the Tours move on to Barcelona, Bucharest, Stuttgart and Marrakesh.

This week I will only be making the one outright pick from the tournament at Stuttgart as I feel there are too many unanswered questions for me to take anyone else. The event in Barcelona is dominated at the head of the market by Rafael Nadal and I do think he will win that event without any of the top three players involved, while in Bucharest I have question marks around all of the top contenders for the title.

WTA Stuttgart
This is one of the Premier events on the WTA Tour so it is no surprise to see seven of the top ten in the World Rankings all taking part here. The Number 1 seed is Maria Sharapova, but I am still not convinced the Russian should be a short favourite on the clay courts despite her stellar season last year.

While she is in the top half of the draw, I am going to look at the bottom half for a potential winner and I look at Petra Kvitova as being someone who could possibly do that after reaching a Final on the surface already in 2013.

The one big roadblock to the Final is a potential Quarter Final against Na Li, a player that is a former winner at Roland Garros, although this is her first tournament on the clay courts this season. However, despite the successes that Li has had on the clay courts in the last few seasons, it is telling that she hasn't found her best form here in Stuttgart having been a loser in the Second Round twice and Quarter Final twice in the last four visits here.

With that in mind, it could open the door for Kvitova to move through the draw and I would favour her to beat Sara Errani or Samantha Stosur in a potential Semi Final meeting. My only real issue with Kvitova these days is she can be erratic and is vulnerable early in the draw, but she certainly looks an each-way interest at 12.00 being offered and does look a lively contender to take the title home.

MY PICKS: Petra Kvitova @ 12.00 Bet 365 (1 Unit E/W)

Daily Picks6-11, - 11.72 Units (34 Units Staked, - 34.47% Yield)

Season 2013+ 35.10 Units (487 Units Staked, + 7.21% Yield)

Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Saturday, 20 April 2013

NBA First Round Play Off Picks 2013

The Play Offs are finally here in the NBA and you can find my thoughts on the series here

Last season, the Play Offs proved to be a very profitable series and hopefully things can follow suit this time around, although the First Round was surprisingly tough to cap a year ago.

I'll be updating this page whenever I make any picks from the First Round and will create a new page for the Semi Finals and the Conference Finals before the main NBA Finals which will begin in around six/seven weeks time.

April 20th
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 1 Pick: I am trying to not let bias rule my head in this one, but this could be a series where the New York Knicks really show they are a contender for the Championship.

It won't be easy facing an emotional Boston Celtics team that is playing for their City after the marathon bombings, but the fact that the suspects are no longer at large means the players are trying to give the people something to cheer about. If this game was at the TD Garden, it could be very hard for the Knicks, but hosting the Celtics at Madison Square Garden is a different matter.

The teams split the two games at the Garden this season, but the Knicks have won 3 in a row in the series and have Tyson Chandler back in the starting rotation. New York come into the Play Offs in better heart and I expect they can win this game and cover the spread.

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 1 Pick: The Denver Nuggets will look to set the tone for this series by winning both home games after being so tough to play here during the regular season and I like their chances to do so.

There is no doubt that absence of Danilo Galinari will be felt, while Kenneth Faried will be a big miss on the boards in this game, but the Nuggets have enough depth to make life too difficult for the Warriors who they have beaten twice at home already this season, both by double digits.

Stephen Curry and the three point shooting of the Warriors will be key to their chances of winning any games in this series, as Denver have struggled to defend that side of things, but the Nuggets have enough in them to get off to a hot start.

Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 1 Pick: This is one of the tougher series to separate the teams and I think that the road team getting 4.5 points may be on the generous side. Every game between the teams have been close this season and I do think Chicago match up well with Brooklyn, despite the Nets having the more talented players.

However, Chicago are about as healthy as they can be for the Play Offs, even though Joakim Noah remains a doubt for Game 1, and it has to be remembered that none of the games in the series have been decided by more than 4 points.

No matter who wins, I would be surprised to see a blowout in any games in this series so taking the points here looks the call.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 1 Pick: Another close looking series that could be tough to predict at first glance, but I do think the LA Clippers hold a mental edge over the Memphis Grizzlies and will get a chance to display that in Game 1.

The Clippers won in Memphis last week to secure home court advantage for this series and have won 7 in a row in the regular season so I am expecting confidence to not be an issue for the home team. LA are healthier than a season ago when they beat Memphis in 7 games in the First Round and they have started to get the better of the Grizzlies more often than not in recent games.

Los Angeles are 4-1 against the spread in the last 5 games in the series and I will be backing them to open this series with another win.

April 21st
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 1 Pick: Neither one of these teams has entered the Play Offs with a lot of momentum, but both know each other well enough to create a decent series. While Indiana are known for their stout defense, games between the two teams have been surprisingly high-scoring and I have a feeling this first game of the series could go the same way.

LA Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs Game 1 Pick: The LA Lakers put in a huge effort to get into the Play Offs and that could take its toll in the first game of this series. They face a San Antonio Spurs team that are back to full health and the absence of Kobe Bryant could be felt keenly in this series.

I can see San Antonio coming out fast and perhaps taking advantage of a Lakers team that exhales slightly from being in the post-season and I like the Spurs in this first game.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat Game 1 Pick: Brandon Jennings should have kept his thoughts to himself ahead of this series and I am expecting Miami to come out and make a statement against the Bucks in this first game.

However, the spread is a big one against a team that can get hot from the three point range. Instead, I'll look for a big defensive effort from Miami to restrict Milwaukee and see the total points end below the 199 points quoted.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 1 Pick: Oklahoma City and Houston are very similar in the way they play the game, but the Thunder have more experience and they are the more consistent scorers.

It is no surprise that Oklahoma City have blown out Houston twice in the regular season already and I think they can get off to a fast start in this series too.

April 22nd
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 2 Pick: The Chicago Bulls were blown out on Saturday as they were hit fast and early making it impossible to recover. However, I expect the necessary adjustments to be made for Game 2 and I expect the Bulls to make it a much closer game this time around.

Defensively they have given Brooklyn a much harder time than they did on Saturday and I expect that side of things to give Chicago a better chance in this one and I will chance them with the points for the second time in this series.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 2 Pick: This won't be the blowout that we saw in Game 1 as I think Memphis will move around their pieces on the court to make sure they have a better rebounding day than they did on Saturday.

However, I still think the layers have got the total points a little wrong with it being set at 181 as both teams can easily reach the 90 point mark as far as I am concerned. The Over is only 2-6 in the last 8 in the series, but this total would have been surpassed in 3 of the last 5 played at the Staples Center and I like the chances of that happening in this one too.

April 23rd
Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat Game 2 Pick: The Miami Heat dominated Game 1 thanks to their defence and LeBron James playing at the level that makes it almost impossible to stop him. I think Game 2 will follow a similar pattern, although I do expect the Bucks to make some adjustments that will help rebound the ball more effectively.

The Heat should win again, but I am sticking to the total points and going for another under even though the layers have dropped that by a couple of points.

Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 2 Pick: The New York Knicks escaped with a win in Game 1 thanks to an impressive fourth quarter, but I think the Boston Celtics will have a more complete game in this one. They might just have run out of gas after being emotionally invested in all the happenings back home in Boston following the bombings and that could have taken it out of them.

Now that issue has been semi-resolved with the capture of the suspects, I think Boston can concentrate fully on getting this game and then heading back home at 1-1. If they play defensively as they did on Saturday, the 7 point head start looks too many.

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 2 Pick: I thought Denver would be too strong in Game 1, but it was Golden State that dominated the boards and will feel disappointed they didn't steal home court advantage. However, since that game, David Lee has been lost for the season and Kenneth Faried is back in the rotation for Denver and I expect that will help the Nuggets cover.

Those two changes from Game 1 should give the Nuggets more control of the boards and, if they can pressure Stephen Curry as they did on Saturday, it will likely be enough to cover the 8 points here.

April 24th
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 2 Pick: I am looking for more of the same from Game 1 and I think OKC are just too strong for Houston and pose a bad match up for the Rockets.

It won't be the 29 point blowout from Game 1, but I still like the Thunder to cover.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 2 Pick: The layers have added a couple of points to the total points from Sunday, but I still like the over in this game. Both teams will play physical in this one and I can see the game prolonged by fouls.

The over is 4-0 in the last 4 played in Indiana and I like the chances of it again here.

LA Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs Game 2 Pick: I expect both offenses to be much improved from Sunday, but the deeper San Antonio rotation to the be the factor that helps the Spurs pull away from the Lakers.

It has been a tough season for the Lakers and this isn't a great match up without Kobe Bryant but I expect them to push San Antonio a little more and for longer than Sunday. However, it will likely have a familiar feel at the end of the game and the Lakers should be 2-0 down heading back home.

April 25th
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 3 Pick: The Miami Heat can virtually put a fork in the Milwaukee Bucks by taking Game 3 of this series and putting themselves in a position to either sweep or put together a gentleman's sweep.

Miami just seem to put together a run in their games with Milwaukee and I can see another leading to the cover and a 3-0 series lead.

LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 3 Pick: I have been torn between picking the LA Clippers with the points or taking the over 179.5 total points in this one.

However, I think the Grizzlies may be ready to put in a big performance in this Game 3 and give themselves some life in the series and so I am going to back these two teams combining for the points.

April 26th
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 3 Pick: Boston are 0-2 down in the series, but I like their chances of taking Game 3 from the New York Knicks. The TD Garden is going to be emotional after the goings on in the City last week and I think they can keep the Celtics going for more than one half and actually completing the job this time.

San Antonio Spurs @ LA Lakers Game 3 Pick: The loss of Steve Blake is yet another problem for the LA Lakers and the less than full health Steve Nash is not going to get the job done against Tony Parker if the second half of Game 2 is anything to go by.

There is too much experience in the Spurs team to think they will get complacent now and allow the Lakers back into the series and I think the depth in the San Antonio rotation will be too much for the Lakers to overcome.

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors Pick: Home court advantage was stolen from the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, but I do think they can grab it back in Game 3 with Stephen Curry a little hobbled for Golden State.

It is tough to separate these teams and both can get hot and put together a string of points, but Curry's swollen ankle looks like it could prove to be the difference, particularly with David Lee missing too and I like the Nuggets.

April 27th
LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 4 Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies dominated Game 3 and have a chance to level the series, but I am expecting a lot more from the LA Clippers in this one. Chris Paul had a poor game last time out, but I expect the All-Star will bounce back and this game should have more offense than we saw in Game 3.

Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game 3 Pick: The Indiana Pacers have bullied the Atlanta Hawks in the first two games to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but they now have the mental burden of losing 11 straight in Atlanta to overcome.

The Hawks need to find some more consistency offensively, while they cannot allow Indiana to continue averaging 110 points per game. However, this does have the hallmarks of continuing from the first two games and covering the over total points.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Game 3 Pick: The loss of Russell Westbrook means Oklahoma City are no longer the favourites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals and I also think it makes this series come alive somewhat.

How will the Thunder react to playing without their Point Guard? It is hard to tell, but I think it shifts the favour to Houston and I believe the Rockets are confident and given a boost to put some life into this series. I just think it will take a couple of days for the news of Westbrook going down until next season to really be digested by the Thunder and they may get caught in this one in an emotionally flat period.

April 28th
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 4 Pick: This could be the day when a few of the First Round series draw to a close and I am expecting the New York Knicks, even without JR Smith, to win this game.

I thought Boston could ride an emotional wave to victory in Game 3 but they can't find any consistency on offense and they look a little worn down. They are struggling to score enough points and Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are desperate for the sweep.

Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 4 Pick: The Miami Heat have been in this position in each of the last two seasons and failed to complete the sweep, but I think they have too much quality for the Bucks in this series. Dwyane Wade may be missing, but Miami are getting plenty of help from the bench and are finding a run of points to put away Milwaukee despite games being a little close for a while.

Milwaukee have to be demoralised at the moment and there is too much of a gap here and I think the Heat can win another game by double digits.

San Antonio Spurs @ LA Lakers Game 4 Pick: The other series that could be closed on Sunday is the one between the San Antonio Spurs and the LA Lakers and it is tough to see how the latter can get this extended to another game in Texas when they have so many injuries to contend with.

In Game 3, they couldn't stop the Spurs doing what they wanted offensively and it is likely that it will be a similar feel. However, I think the Lakers have enough pride to try and stay closer than the huge blowout in Game 4, and I do like the over in this one.

April 29th
What a crazy weekend: Sometimes you are a little stunned by what you see, but it seems to have been the case far too much this weekend. Ty Lawson turning the ball over with Denver down by 1 points and 5 seconds left was disappointing, Kevin Durant hitting a three pointer that hit the back of the rim, bounced ten feet in the air, and clipped the front of the rim before going in was a kick in the teeth, and then San Antonio and the Lakers failing to score a single point in the final three minutes of their game with 185 total points scored was just plain embarrassing.

There really isn't a lot to be done when those things happen and all three games could have easily gone the other way and had the First Round looking really good for the blog. Instead, it has been a tough opening to the Play Offs. However, I am due some fortune landing on my side so glad that the thread is still up, even if only slightly.

April 30th
Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 5 Pick: This has been a series with plenty of scoring, after Game 1 anyway, and there is every chance this game could follow suit.

The Golden State Warriors are hitting plenty of three pointers and that can only assist the chance of the over in a game, while both teams push the pace and try not to resort to half court offense. The total is a big number, but it is one that these teams have managed to cover in combination and it has to be worth chancing.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 5 Pick: While this series has been an offensive struggle at times, the total remains a little low to me and that is why I think this game will be the second of the night that hits the overs.

The total is 179.5 points and it is one that has been surpassed in 3 of the 4 games in this series. The battling defences lead to fouls and that means the game is extended with free throws stopping the clock and so the over looks a decent shout again.

May 1st
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 5 Pick: I am absolutely convinced that the New York Knicks would have won Game 4 if JR Smith had not been suspended and I think they are going to find a way to run Boston out of the building in this one.

It could be close for a while, but I think the Knicks will pull away simply when the Celtics go through their offensive woes which has affected them in every game so far in the series.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 5 Pick: The over has dominated this series and there is every chance that trend will continue with both teams capable of drawing fouls and going through phases of hitting a number of three pointers. I can't pick between them on the point spread as both teams have had their successes at different times in the series, but it looks for all the World this could go to Game 7.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5 Pick: Houston could easily be winning this series 3-1, and definitely could have been at 2-2, so even being 1-3 down won't faze them just yet as they feel they have a good chance to extend this series.

Kevin Durant has been very good in the last two games in Texas, but the pressure remains on the Thunder to find the scoring that Russell Westbrook would be providing. Houston are also heating up from beyond the three point arc and this looks a very generous amount of points they are getting.

May 2nd
Brooklyn Nets @ Chicago Bulls Game 6 Pick: The Miami Heat must be enjoying this series as they are getting plenty of rest and these two teams are taking each other to the limit. It might get even better for Miami as I think there is a real chance that Brooklyn takes this to a Game 7 decider at the weekend.

The absence of Kirk Hinrich really affects the Bulls chances of guarding Deron Williams and I think Brooklyn are still confident enough that they can win this series having had chances to win both of the first two games played here. Chicago are a team that are capable of finding the wins from tough positions, but the likes of Luol Deng and Taj Gibson can't be at 100% and I do think the series is extended.

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors Game 6 Pick: The series has begun to get chippy and you have to think the referees are going to be watching closely to keep a handle on the game and not let this one descend into a farce.

Golden State have certainly had the best of the series, but completing a First Round victory brings its own pressure and they won't especially relish having to go back to the Pepsi Center for a Game 7 later this week. Both the Warriors and Denver are capable of putting up a lot of points and I think fouls could also extend the game and I do like the overs in this one.

May 3rd
Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game 6 Pick: I don't know why these teams seem to play so differently at home and away, but that has been the case in this entire series and all season where all 9 games have been won by the home team.

The only consistency in all of this is that the teams find enough offense to combine for the over, which is 6-1 in the last 7 between these teams and that is the pick for this one too.

New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 6 Pick: It was a dumb move provoking the wounded animal that was the Boston Celtics, but that was what the New York Knicks did in Game 5 and I think that defeat will at least have focused them to get back to basics.

If the Knicks cut the stupid isolation plays they have been using in the last couple of games, I still think they are capable of going into the lion's den and booking their place in the Semi Finals.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Game 6 Pick: Since losing Russell Westbrook, it has been tough work for the Oklahoma City Thunder to find consistent scoring outside of Kevin Durant. All of that has come at the same time that the Houston Rockets have heated up from the three point line and this Game 6 is a tough one to read.

The total points have been lowered by the layers and is now a number that would have been surpassed in 4 of the 5 games played in the series and it looks like this could be another.

LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 6 Pick: For the last twelve months, when these teams meet one another, the layers have always liked the chances for a low-scoring game but they continue doing enough together to go over the total.

I do think the Clippers will find a big game from themselves after falling to defeat in the last three games, but do that, they will have to match the Grizzlies offensive output. Therefore, the over looks more reasonable than backing the Clippers with the points in the bank.

May 4th
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 7 Pick: This is the only First Round series that has gone the distance and I think it is tough to separate the teams. I do think the Nets are the better team, but they have shown some real mental weakness at times in games throughout the series, most notably Game 4.

However, the Nets have broken down the much vaunted Bulls defense at times and this looks like another that could be surprisingly high-scoring and I like the overs in this one.

MY PICKS: 20/04 New York Knicks - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 Denver Nuggets - 7.5 Points @ 1.97 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 Chicago Bulls + 4.5 Points @ 1.97 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 LA Clippers - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 185.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 San Antonio Spurs - 8.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks Under 199 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 10 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 Chicago Bulls + 5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 LA Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies Over 181 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks Under 197 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Boston Celtics + 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Denver Nuggets - 8 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 187 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

24/04 San Antonio Spurs - 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Miami Heat - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 179.5 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 Boston Celtics - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 San Antonio Spurs - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 Denver Nuggets - 1.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/04 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 177 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers Over 190 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Houston Rockets @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
28/04 New York Knicks - 2 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/04 Miami Heat - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
28/04 LA Lakers-San Antonio Spurs Over 189.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/04 Denver Nuggets-Golden State Warriors Over 211.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/04 LA Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies Over 179.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 New York Knicks - 9 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 187.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 Houston Rockets + 9 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
02/05 Brooklyn Nets @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
02/05 Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets Over 211 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers Over 186.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 New York Knicks - 2 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/05 Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 205.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 179 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
04/05 Brooklyn Nets-Chicago Bulls Over 181.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

First Round Update: 21-18, + 2.19 Units

NBA Play Offs First Round Preview 2013

It is that time of the season when the NBA removes less than half of the teams in the League and gets into the Play Offs as teams start looking towards June and winning the big prize. It is no real surprise to suggest that the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, the two Finalists from a year ago, are going to be the teams to beat in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively and both will be heavy favourites to move into the next Round.

There are a couple of dark horse contenders- the New York Knicks have certainly finished the season on a high and can trouble the Heat if they get hot, while it is never wise to rule out the San Antonio Spurs who continue to perform as one of the better teams in the West.

Of course we have those teams that I can't see going all the way like the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that limped into the Play Offs and even the Atlanta Hawks look like they are going to have a near impossible task to knock off the Indiana Pacers, the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat just to get to the NBA Finals.

I think it could be a fun two months all the same and it is certainly going to be a busy period of basketball with games coming thick and fast.

Miami Heat (1) v Milwaukee Bucks (8)

There really isn't a lot to say about this series as the Miami Heat look head and shoulders above a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference, while the Milwaukee Bucks were a fortunate team to even be playing in the post-season after a late season collapse.

However, there has been some spice added to the series with Brandon Jennings stating he believes the Bucks will win in 6 games despite going 1-3 against the Heat in the regular season. Jennings says Milwaukee match up well against Miami, and he is right to some extent, but their consistency is not even close to what the Heat put together and I think they will do well to avoid a sweep.

Milwaukee have played Miami close at times over the last couple of seasons, but any chance that the Heat play them unfocused is surely gone after Jennings' comments and I think Miami will want to get this over with as soon as possible and begin preparing for the winner of the Chicago-Brooklyn series.
Pick: I think it'll end up being Miami in 4


 New York Knicks (2) v Boston Celtics (7)

This is an interesting series as the New York Knicks can certainly make a statement by knocking out the Boston Celtics, a team that has regularly been involved in the Eastern Conference Championship talk over the last few seasons.

Injuries have certainly taken a toll on the Celtics squad this season, although the veteran presence of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will make them a dangerous prospect. However, the likes of Tyson Chandler are back in the rotation for New York, while both Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith provide enough scoring to make life difficult for the Celtics.

Over the last month, the Knicks have blown out Boston twice and that will give them confidence, but the Play Offs are a different matter and Anthony in particular has to show he can take his regular season form into the period when it matters most. Boston are certainly wily enough to make this a fight, but the home court advantage should be crucial for New York.

Pick: I think the New York Knicks will win this one in 6 games


 Indiana Pacers (3) v Atlanta Hawks (6)

A lot of people are surprised that the Atlanta Hawks didn't do their utmost down the stretch to avoid dropping to face the Indiana Pacers and I think it will prove to be a mistake for a squad that is likely to have some big changes in the off-season.

Josh Smith is unlikely to be in Atlanta next season and those hoping for Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to join forces here are probably clutching at straws with both of those players expected to sign in Los Angeles.

The Pacers may still be missing Danny Granger, but they look to have too much defence for the Hawks in this one, although it is true to say that Indiana didn't finish the regular season on a high and are no longer the trendy pick to be the team to upset the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. Home court advantage is also huge for Indiana in this series and I think the Pacers will be moving through.

Pick: Indiana in 5 games

Brooklyn Nets (4) v Chicago Bulls (5)

This, in my opinion, is by far the most intriguing of the First Round matches in the Eastern Conference and a fairly tough one to split. The Chicago Bulls are about as healthy as they have been at any point in the last few months, while Brooklyn have certainly got the bit between their teeth as they ended the regular season in fine form.

I'd be surprised if Derrick Rose is back for the Bulls in this series though and there is a feeling that he is unlikely to play again this season, and I think his absence does make the Nets a better set of players.

However, the Bulls certainly know how to grind down teams and make it awkward for them to win games and this is clearly the series that I am struggling to get a read on. The Bulls did win the season series between the teams, but a couple of late collapses cost the Nets and they may have just learned their lesson with Deron Williams playing the best of his basketball this season at just the right time.

Pick: This is tough, but maybe home court advantage is enough to see the Brooklyn Nets advance in 7 tight games.

Oklahoma City Thunder (1) v Houston Rockets (8)

I don't think the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be too disappointed that they have drawn the Houston Rockets in the First Round as the latter is almost the perfect opponent for them to face.

Both teams like to run the floor with a lot of pace and the Thunder are the better defensively so I do think they will come through fairly comfortably.

The big story around this series will be the fact that the Thunder will be facing James Harden, but they will find a way to slow down his production and that should allow Oklahoma City to come through the series with a lot of room to spare.

Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games

San Antonio Spurs (2) v LA Lakers (7)

This is a fascinating series between two teams that have been at the fore-front of the Western Conference over the last 13 years, but both are expected to yield to the younger and more athletic Oklahoma City Thunder.

The absence of Kobe Bryant is really tough for the Lakers to overcome, especially with Steve Nash a little worn down too, and I think it will be very hard for them to make this a really close series.

Getting into the Play Offs was one of the first goals for the Lakers who had a tough start to the season, but losing Bryant so late in the year was always going to be tough to overcome in the post-season with the Spurs or the Thunder First Round opponents. Pushing this to 6 games would be an achievement in my opinion, but it is more likely that the Lakers are seen off sooner than that.

Pick: San Antonio Spurs in 5 games

Denver Nuggets (3) v Golden State Warriors (6)

Around six weeks ago, I though the Denver Nuggets were going to be a real dark horse in the Western Conference, especially with their home court record this season. However, the injury to Danilo Galinari has taken away one of the better scorers on this team, while Ty Lawson has been dealing with a few injuries of his own.

However, I think they will still be able to see off the dangerous Golden State Warriors, who do hit a lot of three pointers which is one aspect where the Nuggets struggle. However, the athletic ability of Denver means they can gas their opponents at home in the altitude of Colorado and I think they will be able to run the Golden State players a little ragged.

There will be times when the Warriors get hot from the three point range and that will give them a chance to stay in games, but I do think it will be Denver who can sneak a road win and then use their home record to get through to the Semi Finals.

Pick: Denver Nuggets in 6 games

LA Clippers (4) v Memphis Grizzlies (5)

This was a great series a year ago that was decided by a seventh game and took out a lot of energy from the LA Clippers who were eventually swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

I have little reason to doubt that this will be another fantastic series and it wouldn't be the biggest surprise in the World if this one also goes to seven games.

However, I think the LA Clippers winning in Memphis towards the end of the regular season to secure home court advantage and I think that confidence will inspire them to find a way to get this done before the seventh game and perhaps get a little bit of rest before the Semi Final series against, most likely, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Memphis will have a chance if they can impose their tempo on the games in the series, but it is a tough mental burden to overcome after some big losses to the Clippers over the last twelve months and Los Angeles are in a rude state of health.

Pick: LA Clippers in 6 games

That is my thoughts for the First Round series and I do see a couple of routine wins and a couple of tough series. It should be a fun two months coming up and check out my page where I will be making picks throughout the Play Offs. You can access that page here

Tennis Picks Monte Carlo 2013 (April 20th)

One of those weeks where you feel you have taken one step forward and two steps back... That pretty much sums up the week in Monte Carlo where a lot of the favourites have struggled as many players are in their first clay court matches of the 2013 season.

It is funny to think that someone like Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray would not have played much, if any, tennis on the clay courts since the French Open in May/June 2012 and so it isn't overly surprising that the players have had a tough time understanding the movement and feeling comfortable on the court.

That was one of the reasons why Rafael Nadal, who took part in the clay court events in South America before Indian Wells, was a huge favourite to continue his domination of the tournament here, although I don't think the Spaniard would have been expected to have been pushed as much as he was in the Quarter Final against Grigor Dimitrov.

The talented Bulgarian had a real chance to surprise Nadal as the third set was very close, but I still think that is another breakthrough for Dimitrov who has already given Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all they can handle earlier in the season. Dimitrov looks set to make some real waves on the Tour and I think anything less than a top 20 Ranking at the end of the season would be seen as a disappointment.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: If Jo-Wilfried Tsonga brings his 'A' game, he will be able to do enough to cover the spread here, although I don't think there is too much of a chance that he can surprise Rafael Nadal with the backhand being too much of a weakness that can't be hidden on a clay court.

There have been times when Tsonga seems to lose the mental concentration in matches and he will be punished by Nadal in this one if he does, especially if he produces the tennis that cost him the first set against Stanislas Wawrinka yesterday.

I am expecting Nadal to play this match with a lot of balls being hit to the Tsonga backhand to open up the court and I expect the Spaniard to dictate most of the rallies. If the Frenchman serves big, he may be able to get out of games, but the forecast suggests the court will play very slowly and I just think everything dictates to a fairly routine win for Nadal.

Nadal should also be able to punish the second serve and I do think it will be an easier match than yesterday and he will come through 6-2, 6-4.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet 365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-10, - 9.72 Units (32 Units Staked, - 30.38% Yield)

Weekend Football Picks (April 20-22)

It is close enough that it feels like you can reach out and touch it, but Manchester United are not yet in a position to relax when it comes to picking up the Premier League title. I was a little surprised to see Brian Kidd telling the papers that United will still have some 'jittery' moments considering the way Manchester City played against Wigan Athletic on Wednesday night and the fact that unless City keep winning, the title is as good as done anyway.

I know that managers and those in decent coaching positions at clubs will use 'mind games' wherever they can, but it seems a strange moment to talk about United being a little flat considering the poor performance City put in and I think they have the much tougher game this weekend.

There is every chance that United could secure the title at Arsenal next weekend and that could be a special moment for Robin Van Persie in particular... What a way to justify his move to Old Trafford than scoring the goal that wins the Premier League title at his former home in front of former fans?!!

However, I am absolutely sure that Sir Alex Ferguson will not be thinking about anything more than getting his team ready to beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday night after they came through a bruising encounter at Upton Park with a draw.

It has been a tough month for the picks so far as a little bit of luck has been missing... I don't care how much you research and look into a game before making a decision as it won't matter if the luck isn't quite running the right way and that has been the case for a few of the picks this month. I took a week off to refresh the mind and hopefully that has been enough time to get things going in the right direction over the last couple of weeks of this month.

Fulham v Arsenal Pick: In recent seasons, Craven Cottage has been one of the tougher away grounds for visiting teams especially for the teams at the very top of the Premier League, but that hasn't been the case this season.

Fulham have lost 6 of their 16 home games, but more importantly have lost against 4 of the top 5 that they have faced with Arsenal being the only club in those positions to visit here this season. The 0-3 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday night was certainly not a fair reflection of the game as Fulham had chances to get back into the game at various points and so I am expecting a reaction from them this week.

It is a good thing that they are facing another big game in Arsenal, who are coming in off a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Everton, and there is a chance that the home team can take advantage of some tired and battered bodies in the Arsenal camp. The Gunners have been surprisingly tough away from the Emirates Stadium and they have a couple of impressive away wins in recent weeks at Swansea and West Brom so visiting Fulham won't be an intimidating fixture for them.

However, Arsenal have only won 1 of their last 4 visits to this part of West London and could see their top four bid dented again with a possible failure to win this game.

Sunderland v Everton Pick: Everton are coming off a tough game at Arsenal where their Champions League chances have been left in a desperate position and now have to travel to the Stadium of Light which has to be buzzing after the 0-3 win Sunderland recorded at Newcastle United last weekend.

The absence of Steven Fletcher and Craig Gardner does limit the attacking force of the home side, but Paolo Di Canio clearly has injected some belief in the squad and I expect them to trouble Everton. For all the fabulous defending Everton did at Arsenal, you have to think there could be some mental lapses of concentration in this one and I think they will find it tough to keep Sunderland out.

Even though Everton have conceded just 2 goals in their last 5 games in the Premier League, most of their clean sheets have come at home and they have actually been involved in games where both teams have scored in 15 of their 20 away games in all competitions this season.

It does seem that could be the case again this weekend and I do think William Hill are taking a chance by offering that at 1.92 in this one.

West Ham United v Wigan Athletic Pick: I thought West Ham United played very well against Manchester United on Wednesday night, while the highlights of Wigan Athletic's trip to Manchester City suggests they were unfortunate not to pick up something from that game.

Both teams will look at this fixture as one where they can pick up three points and games between the two teams have produced a fair few goals in the past. Already this season, they have met twice and there has been a combined 9 goals in those two games, including a 1-4 win for Wigan here in the Capital One Cup.

The last four games at Upton Park between these sides have produced 17 goals and both teams have been scoring a fair few goals in their recent games. Hopefully an early goal goes in to get the ball rolling, but this does look like a fixture where there could be at least 3 goals and that will be the pick.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City Pick: Tottenham Hotspur look like they will be back to full strength in an attacking sense for this game and that is very important to them with a few games left to play this season and the top four beginning to pull away from them.

However, they have been very vulnerable at the back in the last few weeks and I do think Manchester City can take advantage of that too. The away side may be missing David Silva and Sergio Aguero for the game, but I expect a more positive performance than the one they had against Wigan Athletic during the week and this is a game that will at least excite the players.

Both teams should want to get forward in this one and I am looking for at least 3 goals in the game.

Liverpool v Chelsea Pick: It has taken a couple of very good goalkeeping performances and some poor finishing to prevent Liverpool still being in a position to perhaps fight for a top four place and their only motivation for the rest of the season is finishing above Everton in the Premier League table.

They should also be up for playing Chelsea, a team that has provided a real rivalry for Liverpool over the last few seasons and one that will be managed by Rafa Benitez, a hero on this part of Merseyside.

However, Liverpool have proved to have had a few defensive problems against the best teams in the League and it is telling that all the sides in the top five that have visited Anfield this season have come away with at least 2 goals. On the other hand, Chelsea are quite vulnerable at the back themselves and I do think the home side will create chances and with a bit more composure in front of goal will surely score goals themselves.

It looks a good day to play football and this could be even more entertaining than the first game on TV and backing at least 4 goals is the call.

Manchester United v Aston Villa Pick: There is going to be a party atmosphere inside Old Trafford on Monday night as a win would make sure the Premier League title is returning to Manchester United after the heartbreak of last season. With Manchester City losing on Sunday, United need just three points to confirm the title and most fans will be expecting that to happen today.

United haven't been in great form in the last couple of weeks, but they have continued doing enough to keep the points churning and I think the happy mood could translate to one of the better performances in recent weeks. While Aston Villa have certainly begun to play better, they are still a young team that could be a touch overawed at a heaving Old Trafford.

However, the pressure is off Villa with the bottom three all losing this weekend and that makes them a dangerous side with nothing to lose. They should be able to cause some problems on the counter attack with the pace they have in the side, but they have regularly struggled at Old Trafford.

With what happened at White Hart Lane yesterday afternoon, you have to think United will come out firing in this one and I can't see them winning the game by less than 2 goals at least.

MY PICKS: Fulham + 0.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sunderland-Everton Both to Score @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
West Ham United-Wigan Athletic Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool-Chelsea Over 3.5 Goals @ 3.00 William Hill (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

April Update5-16, - 12.25 Units (28 Units Staked, - 43.75% Yield)

March Final16-20, + 7.43 Units (55 Units Staked, + 13.51% Yield)
February Final14-23, - 2.81 Units (48 Units Staked, - 5.85% Yield)
January Final10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% Yield)
December Final17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 12.57 Units (351 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)