Featured post

Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tennis Outright Picks Madrid (May 4-12)

The next month of the tennis season sees a lot of crossover tournaments as the build of the second Grand Slam of the season takes centre stage.

That means both the WTA and ATP Tours are heading to Madrid this week, Rome next week and then beginning the French Open in three weeks time. In between Rome and Roland Garros, there are a couple of smaller tournaments but the next month is full of a lot of Ranking points and big tournaments to be won.

Unsurprisingly, the bigger the tournaments, the more famous names are in the draw and it is good to see an ATP draw where all of the big four are in action. The players will all be happy to see Madrid has returned to the more natural clay courts after the experiment with the blue clay twelve months ago saw a lot of complaints. The bounce and the surface just didn't work and the organisers here took the threat of big names withdrawing seriously enough to go back to basics.

We also saw the sad news this week that Brad Drewett passed away- he did a lot of good work to improve the ATP Tour which you can read about here

Last week I didn't make too many picks from the tennis tournaments in Portugal and Germany simply because the layers were spending too much time creating the markets for the matches and I was fairly content with the two outright picks I had made at the beginning of the week.

While the few picks I did make had ended with a slight loss, both Philipp Kohlschreiber and David Ferrer have reached their respective Finals and that has already resulted in a slight profit. If both can win, or at least one can win, it will be another profitable week ahead of this month.

I'll update the season tally on the Monday thread for picks once the two Finals in Germany and Portugal have been concluded on Sunday.

ATP Madrid
The Masters 1000 Tournaments have been dominated by the big four players on the ATP Tour and it is hard to see beyond Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer as the most likely winner. I would rule out Andy Murray on this surface at the moment too, but the other three names are the most likely winners of the tournament here in Madrid.

The draw has separated Djokovic and Nadal until the Final and a repeat of the Monte Carlo Final from last month is very much on the cards in my opinion. Those two players look head and shoulders the best on the clay court currently on the Tour and I would be surprised if either is beaten before the Final this week.

When you take a look at the draw, it does seem that Rafael Nadal has been given the kinder path to the Final of the top two in the market. The likes of Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer are tough competitors on the clay courts, but Nadal would more than expect himself to get through those matches before the Semi Final.

Unless you have been living in a cave over the last ten years, you know Nadal would be a big favourite to beat Roger Federer in any potential Semi Final, while there is no guarantee as to how Federer is going to be playing having had around six weeks off from the Tour.

Federer fans will point to the fact that one of his two wins on the clay courts against Nadal has come in Madrid, but that also came after the Spaniard had been through hell to get past Djokovic in the Semi Final back in 2009 and I would back Nadal to be too good at this point in their careers.

On the other hand, Djokovic will have to be on his game from the very beginning of the tournament with his first match likely to be against Grigor Dimitrov- the Bulgarian youngster is certainly starting to feel more comfortable with the big names and he was unfortunate not to surprise Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Dimitrov has also pushed Djokovic and Murray this year in different tournaments, although coming up short in both matches, but that is a tough start to the tournament for the Number 1 seed.

Even coming through that match would see Djokovic having to face Stanislas Wawrinka and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just to get through to any potential Semi Final and it is a tough path through the draw.

Djokovic would likely face either Andy Murray or Tomas Berdych in the last four and while I think he would win that Semi Final, you can appreciate it is a far tougher draw than the Number 5 seeded Rafael Nadal has received.

I do believe that the clay court tournaments will be split up by Djokovic and Nadal, but the draw here favours the Spaniard and he will be my choice to win this tournament.

WTA Madrid
In a similar way as the ATP Tour big tournaments, you immediately look to Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams when the draw is made for a big WTA event.

This time around, it is Williams and Azarenka that have been placed in the same half of the draw and that should open the door for Sharapova to continue her recent successes on the clay courts, a real surprise considering her early struggles on the surface.

Sharapova won the recent big tournament in Stuttgart and I look at her half of the draw and I don't foresee too many problems and hurdles for her to overcome. I would expect her to be too strong for Petra Kvitova, her most likely challenger before the Semi Final, and by that time the Russian player will be comfortable with her surroundings.

At the Semi Final stage, she would likely face the winner of the Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska clash, but Sharapova would be considered a big favourite to beat either of those players.

The top half of the draw sees the return of Victoria Azarenka from an ankle injury which has seen her fail to play a competitive match on the Tour since being forced out at Indian Wells. The lack of competitive tennis could be exposed as early as the First Round when she takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the winner of the Portugal Open last week.

It doesn't get much easier for Azarenka as the likes of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are in her quarter of the draw and she might not be back to something of her best until the tournaments in Rome and the French Open.

That should also open the door for the World Number 1 Serena Williams to come out of the top half of the draw having won this tournament a year ago and also winning in Charleston last month. Williams will get a chance to play her way into the tournament with a qualifier first up and I wouldn't expect too many early problems, perhaps when she is most vulnerable in the draw.

One danger for Serena is the presence of Na Li, the former French Open Champion and a player that is very comfortable on the clay courts. While Li hasn't quite been able to get the better of Williams in recent matches, she has always given the American a tough time despite the lop-sided head to head.

However, it wouldn't be a surprise if Serena is the player that gets through that potentially awkward match with Na Li and is then able to get back to the Final from twelve months ago. The clay courts are definitely still where Serena Williams is most vulnerable, but the draw seems to be on her side here and I think she will come through and win the tournament.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Serena Williams @ 3.75 Bet Fred (2 Units)

No comments:

Post a comment