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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 11th)

Monday proved to be a mixed bag for the picks, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at least dominated his match with Florian Mayer (after the first set anyway) in the same manner he has against that opponent in the past.

The two picks from Doha were both disappointing, but at least it is a better start than last week as we get ready for another full schedule of tennis through the four tournaments that are being played through the week.


Igor Sijsling + 2.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: A poor summer of 2013 dropped Igor Sijsling down the Rankings and he is struggling to regain some of the form he has displayed at times on the Tour, but I still think he can push Mikhail Youzhny in this First Round match in Rotterdam.

Having the home support should help Sijsling who did surprise Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the First Round last year, but the Dutchman has had some disappointing results to open 2014 even if he did reach the Final of a Challenger event on the indoor hard courts.

This is actually more of a pick against Youzhny who has been struggling for form and had a very disappointing loss in Zagreb last week. The veteran looks a little more shaky behind his serve and even if he wins this match, it wouldn't be a big surprise if he is pushed at least into a final set decider.

There will be breaks of serve and I do think Youzhny has the better mentality of the two players, but I wouldn't be surprised if these games on the spread prove to be critical.


Julien Benneteau + 2.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: This is another match where I think the underdog has a real chance of winning it outright and that makes the games a very attractive proposition. Julien Benneteau had his best success on the indoor hard courts last season, reaching two Finals including here at Rotterdam where he surprised Roger Federer.

Benneteau didn't have a good week in Montpellier last week when he was upset by Nikolay Davydenko, but he has a decent game that will give Jerzy Janowicz something to think about. The Frenchman has to serve well in a match where Janowicz' big serve will put some mental pressure on the Benneteau performance, but he has faced him twice before and should have a better understanding of what to expect.

It is the big serve that makes Janowicz someone that will appeal to casual fans, while his run to the Paris Masters at the back end of 2012 has perhaps made him a little over-rated at times. He will be able to breeze through some service games, but Janowicz can also be weak with his groundstrokes and begin to make a number of errors off the ground that will give Benneteau a chance to win the match.

This spread will essentially need Benneteau to win at least one set to earn the cover, but I do think he can win outright so the games worth keeping in hand.


Samantha Stosur - 5.5 games v Marina Erakovic: It has been a couple of weeks since Marina Erakovic had to pull out of her match in Paris against Daniela Hantuchova, but it might not matter if she is at full health after a really poor start to the 2014 season.

It doesn't help that she is playing against Samantha Stosur who has dominated their three previous matches and who has shown signs that she may be able to regain her form to send her back into the top ten in the World Rankings.

The serve is going to be critical for Stosur as she should have chances to break the Erakovic serve and I think she should be able to win at least one set with a couple of breaks of serve more than she gives up.

If Stosur serves well, I think the Australian wins 62, 64 to move through to the Second Round.


Lukas Lacko - 1.5 games v Benjamin Becker: One of the more inconsistent players on the Tour has fallen out of the top 100 because of injuries in 2013, but Lukas Lacko should still have too much in the locker for Benjamin Becker in this First Round match.

There have been a few times I have watched Lacko and I have seen a player that has a lot of the tools to play in the top 50, perhaps even more, but the inconsistency in his play is hard to get a handle on.

Lacko had a disappointing loss in Zagreb last week, but he has a decent indoor hard court pedigree on the Challenger Tour and Becker doesn't represent a big step up in class compared to that level of play.

The German has a decent serve, but Becker struggles with his own consistency although I believe his current Ranking of 88 is more realistic than Lacko being out of the top 100. Becker did reach the Quarter Final on the indoor hard courts of Metz last year, but he generally doesn't quite have enough to keep his performance up to the level required and I think Lacko wins this match in straight sets.


Christian Garin + 3.5 games v Filippo Volandri: After the performance last week, I am perhaps surprising myself that I am picking Christian Garin to cover the spread in this First Round match, but I do think there were elements of his game that could bode well for him against the veteran Filippo Volandri.

There were signs that Christian Garin could be a really good player, but he has to show more consistency off the ground and can't afford to miss the same amount of easy put-aways that he did in the loss to Jeremy Chardy.

He will have chances against Volandri to at least keep the match competitive as the Italian has one of the poorer serves on the Tour, but I also have to respect that he is still a 'gate-keeper' on a clay court as he remains dominant below the main Tour level.

That should give Volandri the ability to win this match, but he also can fall apart in sets thanks to his weak serve and I think Garin can keep this competitive through the contest.


Robin Haase v Martin Alund: Changing surfaces can always lead to problems early on and that is what faces Robin Haase against the qualifier Martin Alund who has proved effective on the clay courts below the main Tour level but not transferred that to the main draws on too many occasions.

It has been a tough start to 2014 for Robin Haase too which raises more doubts about the match, but the Dutchman won a Davis Cup tie for his country which could spark some form after his best season on the Tour in 2013.

The clay courts are also his favoured surface, but Haase is maddeningly inconsistent, although he should get plenty of chances to recover breaks of serve against Alund.

While I do have some doubts about Haase considering the long travel to South America and this being his first clay court match of the season, I still think he should be a stronger favourite to win the match and like him to come through, possibly in three sets though.

MY PICKS: Igor Sijsling + 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Julien Benneteau + 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Lukas Lacko - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Christian Garin + 3.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Robin Haase @ 1.85 Bwin (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-2, - 0.34 Units (5 Units Staked, - 0.7% Yield)

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