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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Tennis Picks Shanghai Masters 2013 (October 8th)

There is no doubt that this has been one of the toughest seasons I have had in a while when it comes to tennis picks, but a positive record is something to be happy about, and I know that this can happen once in a while. Sometimes you just can't get the breaks, while I have particularly struggled when it comes to picking outright winners this season, which really can make the difference.

The season is almost over and we have seen Rafael Nadal return to the top of the World Rankings and it would be a real surprise if he relinquishes that now and I would expect him to go into the first three Grand Slams of next season, at least, with the Number 1 seed in his pocket barring another injury setback.

Novak Djokovic will push Nadal, but he has a lot more points to defend up until February and I also think the Serb will likely take the 'tougher' schedule as Nadal is likely to incorporate the South American clay court swing after the Australian Open next season. It will be tough for the Serb to make up the points until we reach the European clay court swing and even with that in mind, Djokovic has a Wimbledon Final to defend while Nadal was beaten in the First Round at SW19 so it does seem the Spaniard is going to occupy the World Number 1 Ranking for the foreseeable future.

This is the second last Masters tournament of the year with the one at Paris to be played at the end of the month and that means the concentration will be on those players looking to pick up the points that will give them a place at the ATP World Tour Championships in London. Andy Murray has had surgery on his back and is unlikely to take part in London as far as I know, and that means there will be an extra place for players to look to make.

It is strange to see that Roger Federer has yet to book his place at an event he has won 6 times in his career, but he already looks like he will be capable of earning enough points from the next three tournaments he will play to make his way through. I do think the biggest question marks will come from the final two places in London which will be battled over by six players in the last month of the season.

Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet are in the driving seat for those places, but Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tommy Haas and John Isner will all feel they have something to say about that.

The tournament in Shanghai began on Sunday, while most of Monday was written off as the outside courts were battered by a typhoon. That means Tuesday will be a very busy day as a lot of tennis is scheduled to get the tournament back on track and a number of the players I mentioned chasing those places in London will be in action.

Alejandro Falla v Daniel Brands: Neither one of these players has been in great form, but Alejandro Falla has come through a couple of qualifying rounds and that may give him enough confidence to see off Daniel Brands in this First Round match.

It has been a much more productive season for Brands than it has been for Falla, but it may have taken a toll on the German as he has had his most successful year on the Tour. A lot of his positive results came in the first few months of the season and he may just have shut down mentally for the year.

Brands isn't going up against a player with a lot of wins behind him this season, while he missed the final Grand Slam of the season at Flushing Meadows. However, he has a decent serve and can play inspired tennis and has also put together a few wins over the last three weeks to think he can move through to the Second Round. It is important for Falla to improve his Ranking ahead of the new season so he can automatically qualify for the Australian Open and that motivation should also aid him against an opponent that may have lost some focus.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Go Soeda: It has been a really strange season for Nicolas Almagro as it started in decent fashion but has threatened to finish with a whimper. Almagro had been on a long losing run heading to Tokyo last week, but he put together a good week there and will be looking to build on that against Go Soeda.

Almagro has a big game, but can be very weak mentally while he doesn't always put in the required effort that you would like to see from a top professional. Far too often I have seen Almagro almost go through the motions on a tennis court and look like he would rather be anywhere else in the world, but he has vast amounts of talent and can be virtually unplayable on his day.

The Spaniard uses a big first serve to set up his points and that should be the case against Go Soeda. Soeda has generally come up short against the better players on the Tour, but he will be given plenty of support from the crowd in Asia and that could inspire him to put in a good performance, although his serve isn't the best.

If Almagro serves well and takes the break point opportunities that come his way, I would expect him to come through 63, 63.

Vasek Pospisil + 4.5 games v Richard Gasquet: One player who certainly looks more confident than perhaps at any time in his career is Richard Gasquet and he has a real chance of finishing in a position to play at the World Tour Championships in London. He will likely need another big week to really get himself in a position to finish in the top eight in the Race for London, although I suspect this will be a tough opening match for him.

Gasquet is a very effective shot-maker, but he may have to wait for his chance in this match against a big-serving player like Vasek Pospisil. The Canadian will get enough free points off his own serve to try and keep the pressure on Gasquet, although I would expect the latter to win the majority of points that go beyond six shots.

However, there are times when Gasquet has lapses of concentration on his own serve and that could lead to him losing a set in this one, while a tie-breaker can't be ruled out if both players are serving as effectively as they can. I do expect the Frenchman to come through, but possibly with a 64, 46, 76 victory.

Kei Nishikori - 2.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: In all the time I have watched Kei Nishikori, I have always felt a little disappointed by what he produces on a tennis court- consistency is a problem with his game, yet he has somehow reached the World Number 13 Ranking which really surprises me.

I do think Nishikori has talent, but to reach as high as he has needs more, although I don't really look at him as a player that has a lot of top results under his belt. He is the kind of player that will produce a lot of results quietly, but fails in some big moments although he did impress when beating Roger Federer on a clay court earlier this season.

Nishikori may be able to take advantage of one player in the top 30 that is younger than in him in this First Round match against Grigor Dimitrov, one who has had a strong season but may be winding down as it comes to a close.

The Bulgarian hasn't played much tennis in recent weeks and was comfortably beaten in Beijing last week in his only match since being surprised in the First Round at the US Open. It is a long season and a young player like Dimitrov may have reached the end of the gas in the tank while someone like Nishikori could be motivated by the support he is sure to receive from the stands.

This is another match that could conceivably go the distance, but I like Nishikori to be a little too hard to break down for Dimitrov and to come through 67, 75, 63.

Milos Raonic - 4.5 games v Michal Przysiezny: Milos Raonic is not the most trust-worthy player to back when it comes to big spreads simply because his return game is below average, but he is playing an opponent whose own erratic play will give the big serving Canadian a chance to record a straight-forward win.

We all know what we are going to get from Raonic which is a number of big serves that help him, for the most part, run through service games and keep the pressure on Michal Przysiezny to hold on to his own serve. Whenever I have seen Przysienzny this season, he has produced some very good service games, but mentally can lapse at time and go through a run of making mistakes which will give Raonic chances in this one.

I would be surprised if this a long match as both should run through some service games without too many problems and the first set is likely to be close. However, I will look for Raonic to win that one perhaps with a late break of serve and should then go on to record a 75, 63 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Ze Zhang: There are plenty of times when Fernando Verdasco can be accused of not putting in sufficient effort into matches, but that is mainly down to a boom or bust playing style that he employs. He is one of the big hitting players on the Tour, but can be frustratingly inconsistent, but this does look a good match for a player trying to make sure he finishes in the top 32 in the World Rankings.

For players like Verdasco, ending the season in a top 32 position could give him a real chance of being seeded at the Australian Open which is of course important to help get anywhere in the Grand Slam draws, although I do think his days as a force in the singles game is behind him.

I still believe he will be too strong for a young Chinese player Ze Zhang who just hasn't mixed in this level of company, although he did record a three set win over Richard Gasquet last season. Zhang also pushed Bernard Tomic all the way in a three set loss last week in Beijing, but Verdasco is a player that could take the racquet out of Zhang's hands and the youngster has had some tough losses against players that are far inferior to Verdasco.

Verdasco has played Davis Cup for Spain so shouldn't be overwhelmed by the crowd being in favour of his opponent and I believe he is good enough to come through 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Alejandro Falla @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Vasek Pospisil + 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Kei Nishikori - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 4.5 Games @ 2.38 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)

US Open Outright Picks (August 26-September 9)2-2, + 11 Units (7 Units Staked, + 163% Yield)
US Open Daily Picks (August 26-Septemer 9)30-39, - 8.94 Units (116 Units Staked, - 7.71% Yield)

Season 2013+ 12.68 Units (1227.5 Units Staked, + 1.03% Yield)

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

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