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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Australian Open Day 12 Picks 2014 (January 24th)

The Australian Open 2014 women's Final was set up on Thursday with Na Li ready to take on Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday and you have to think Li is going to be a pretty strong favourite to win her second Grand Slam. There is a couple of mental barriers to get over with Li having lost twice at Melbourne Park in the Final, but her opponent has never been to a Grand Slam Final and that lack of experience may prove to be the difference in the match.

We also saw Stanislas Wawrinka reach his first major Final with a four set win over Tomas Berdych and I have to say I am very happy for the Swiss man as he has deserved to take the next step with his performances over the last twelve months. It was a tense Semi Final which could have been swayed the other way with a couple of key points, but I think it says a lot about Wawrinka's temperament that his serve held up throughout the match.

That is an area where he would have faltered in the past and I credit him for avoiding a break of serve throughout the match, although he will still be a big underdog no matter who he faces in the Final on Sunday.

That will be decided on Friday when Rafael Nadal takes on Roger Federer for the second spot and I think it will be a fascinating match to watch.

Rafael Nadal win 3-1 v Roger Federer: There are a couple of factors that are making this a far more intriguing match than it may have been over the last couple of years and that is the improved aggression of Roger Federer and the blisters on the left hand of Rafael Nadal.

Nadal has made it clear that he doesn't feel too much pain when he is playing points, but the blisters are affecting his serve which will be music to the ears of Federer fans. On the other hand, Federer has to keep up the aggressive tennis he has played so far the last couple of weeks, especially on the backhand side which has been the area most exploited by Nadal in the past.

It won't be a surprise to see the way this match is going to develop- Nadal will look to use his powerful left hand to expose the weakness in the Federer backhand and force the short ball... That is going to be a key to the whole match and whether Federer can make enough balls back off his weaker side will determine if he can win this one.

I think Federer's serve has been much improved from last season in the two weeks here and the former World Number 1 has looked after that aspect of his game by throwing in the serve-volley and also getting to the net very quickly after the points have been started. I believe the serve-volley will be an effective tactic against Nadal's backhand return which he does tend to chip back and forcing the Spaniard to hit through on the return from that wing should pay dividends.

While Federer is playing as well as he has for some time, it is hard to ignore the fact that Nadal has dominated their head to head and I still don't believe the backhand is effective enough to really trouble the World Number 1 over five sets. Nadal has won the last 5 matches between the players at the Grand Slams including a four set win here in Australia in 2012 and I think he is going to be able to replicate that result this year too.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal win 3-1 @ 4.33 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

Australian Open Update: 29-19, + 19.21 Units (88 Units Staked, + 21.83% Yield)

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