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Monday, 3 June 2013

French Open Day 9 Picks 2013 (June 3rd)

So my short time in Paris came to an end this weekend, but I had so much fun.

There was no doubt that the trip was going to be one to remember when I met Gaston Gaudio, the former French Open Champion, at Charles de Gaulle Airport while waiting for my baggage to arrive and the whole trip had plenty of positives to take.

On the Friday I had tickets to attend Roland Garros and it truly is a special place to watch the tennis- on TV, I have always wondered why the main courts seem so empty at times, but it quickly became apparent that the grounds were heaving with people. Unlike Britain and Wimbledon, the French are very much heavily represented in both Men's and Women's draws and that means there were hundreds of people around the two big screens watching the matches that were being shown from the main courts.

The big match of the day was the Gael Monfils v Tommy Robredo contest and that was the one that saw the main courts quickly empty so that everyone could get a chance to watch the two in what was a very good match featuring plenty of highs and lows.

Seeing the likes of Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer up close was brilliant too, with both players showing some flashy winners and also seeing the hard work the latter puts into his matches. Sara Errani and Angelique Kerber were also fun players to watch and later I managed to get on a court to see Grigor Dimitrov who was playing doubles.

It was a really cool day being at Roland Garros and I am definitely looking to get this into my personal calender on a more regular basis from now on. I have a couple of things that I would perhaps do differently next time around, but the overall experience was one to remember and it is definitely the favourite tournament I have attended.

One big talking point over the weekend was Rafael Nadal's latest criticisms of something he feels is 'unfair'- I don't think I am the only one that thinks Nadal is doing far too much moaning these days, even if it is great to have him back on the Tour. This time it was the scheduling that was a concern to Nadal although I don't remember him complaining too much when he was given the benefit of the scheduling to win the US Open, his sole triumph at Flushing Meadows.

Don't get me wrong, I did understand the complaint that to some extent, but it just seems he is always complaining about something or other these days. He has had a shot at the amount of hard court tennis on the calender, the length of the season and now the scheduling and it is a touch tiresome as far as I am concerned.

Personally I think some of the frustration was borne out of the fact that he hasn't looked at his best so far in the tournament, although the weather forecast will certainly favour his game in the last week of the Grand Slam. However, I am perfectly content with picking Novak Djokovic to find a way past him should they meet in the Semi Final, especially with the way the Serb dismantled Grigor Dimitrov in the Third Round.

It has also been a good few days for the picks made on here, while both outright picks in the Men's draw are just about still around. Hopefully that will continue in the next week as the tournament comes to a close.

Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 games v Francesca Schiavone: Francesca Schiavone is a former French Open Champion and is certainly at her most comfortable on the clay courts, whereas Victoria Azarenka hasn't been at her very best in this tournament and so there will be a few people believing we could see a surprise in this one.

The Italian has won a title on the clay courts this season, but Schiavone had been struggling ahead of the French Open and I think the win over Marion Bartoli in the last Round is perhaps having too much of an influence over the layers in this one. I won't deny it was a very good win for Schiavone for the loss of just three games, but Bartoli had ridden her luck somewhat to get to the Third Round and Victoria Azarenka poses an entirely different level of threat.

Even though the former World Number 1 hasn't looked at her best since returning from an injury that kept her off the Tour for over two months, Azarenka is still certainly capable of putting away Schiavone with some room to spare. I think she is consistent enough off the ground to create a lot of opportunities in this one and I believe she can make life extremely difficult for Schiavone.

Azarenka to come through 64 62 looks to be the call from this one.

Maria Kirilenko - 2.5 games v Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Bethanie Mattek-Sands is one of the more charismatic players on the Tour and it is clear that her new gluten-free diet is perhaps inspiring the American to play her best tennis of her Singles career.

She has already caused one huge upset when knocking off a former French Open Champion in Na Li, but it could be tough for Mattek-Sands to get through Maria Kirilenko.

Kirilenko is not just a pretty face on the Tour, but a player that is capable of playing effectively on all surfaces and one that could surpass the 37 win year she had in 2010. The Russian has a solid 26-9 record on the Tour this season and she has played well in the tournament so far and I do think she is the more comfortable player of the two when it comes to clay court tennis.

It won't be straight forward and I do anticipate a few breaks of serve, but I do believe that Kirilenko will ultimately come through this match with a 75 63 win.

Maria Sharapova - 6.5 games v Sloane Stephens: The rising star of Women's tennis in the United States takes on Maria Sharapova for the second time in a little over four weeks and it will be interesting to see what Sloane Stephens has learnt from her 62 61 defeat in Rome.

Stephens actually reached this stage at the French Open twelve months ago before losing a tight two setter to Sam Stosur, but I do think someone like Sharapova will still give her some problems. However, Stephens can certainly make this a tough battle and keep the match close if she is on her game and can begin to hit winners.

The problem that I believe Stephens will have is getting into a position where she is dictating rallies and that was something that Sharapova was very successful with in Rome. The defending Champion from twelve months ago crushed Stephens in Rome last month by getting the first big hit of the rally and I think she will follow a similar game plan here.

While Stephens has a lot of potential, I don't think she is quite capable of keeping up with Sharapova in the rallies in this one and I expect the World Number 2 to frank her win from Rome and come through 62 62.

MY PICKS: Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Maria Kirilenko - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

French Open Update: 13-9, + 6.68 Units (42 Units Staked, + 15.90% Yield)

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