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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 13th)

I'll admit it, that pick on Donald Young was an abomination and the former child protege was completely outclassed in an error-strewn defeat to Denis Kudla. Fortunately it wasn't too bad a day for the rest of the picks which keeps the week in a good place as we have gone beyond the half way stage, but I don't think I will ever have Young in my staking plan again.

One of the more impressive results was Marin Cilic continuing his fine run with a win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and he may finally be returning to the form he was displaying before the ban from the Tour last season. I like Cilic and I think he is a good player that probably should be moving up into the top ten of the Rankings with a clear year on the Tour, but I was expecting the Croatian to perhaps take a little more time before beginning to record the big wins on the Tour.

The title in Zagreb will have helped his confidence, but the run to the Quarter Finals here will just increase that belief and he could be a dangerous player for the top seeds to look out for at Indian Wells and Miami in the big tournaments coming up next month.

On Thursday we will get to see the tournaments completing their Quarter Final line ups and there is plenty of tennis to see through the day, while I am also happy to see my three outright picks for the week still involved in all their events.

Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: This looks a fascinating Second Round match in Rotterdam, but I think the First Round win for Grigor Dimitrov over Dmitry Tursunov may stand him in good stead for the rest of the week.

It was a tough first match for Dimitrov, but that should have given him all the knowledge of the conditions he needed, while coming through was important as it was a match he may have lost twelve months ago.

Facing a player like Ernests Gulbis is always going to be difficult as he can become very hot at times and get to the point of producing almost unplayable tennis, but he is also inconsistent and has had difficulty in maintaining his form. That was shown by another disappointing showing in a Grand Slam at the Australian Open last month, although Gulbis did play very well in the win over Denis Istomin in the First Round.

The serve is going to be critical for Dimitrov to see off Gulbis in this one, but I do think the Bulgarian is a little more consistent off the ground and can find a way to produce a 76, 64 win and move through to another Quarter Final as he continues finding the consistency that will see him challenge the best players on Tour.

Tommy Haas + 2.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: I might sound like I am repeating myself from a couple of days ago, but I simply still don't believe Jerzy Janowicz should be favoured to beat a player of the ability of Tommy Haas and the veteran can make this small number of games seem all important as Julien Benneteau did against the Pole in the First Round.

As big as Janowicz plays at time, especially when it comes to the serve, he is still a little too inconsistent off the ground to think he can blow pass someone like Haas. As I said two days ago, Janowicz will get through some service games comfortably, but Haas has the ability to get enough balls back in play to force errors and then it will come down to whether he takes his chances.

Haas also had a long match on Wednesday which followed his exploits in reaching the Final in Zagreb and that is one of the concerns in backing him in this match. The shoulder issue he had last month seems to be behind him, but Haas will have to serve well to make sure he keeps the pressure on Janowicz.

This is something he is well capable of doing when on form and the last two weeks suggests he is finding his way again after a strong 2013 season. Haas might not win the match, but he should be able to take at least one set and that makes this number of games of interest to put in the bank.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Dominic Thiem: This is a very good match for Dominic Thiem to have as he looks to build his experience and improve his Ranking, but the young Austrian is unlikely to be able to trouble Andy Murray through this match and will likely be seen off by the two time Grand Slam winner.

Murray was impressive in beating Edouard Roger-Vasselin and looked comfortable being back on the hard courts following his clay court success with Great Britain in the Davis Cup. He created plenty of break point opportunities and his ability to return serve is likely to put Thiem under some pressure in this Second Round match.

Coming through the qualifiers and then beating Jarkko Nieminen already constitutes a good week for Thiem who is attempting to make the move onto the main ATP Tour, but this will be by far the toughest challenge he has faced in his young career. Thiem has shown some signs of what he is capable of with surprise wins over the likes of Jurgen Melzer and pushing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets in Vienna last year, but Murray's return of serve will give him a new obstacle to overcome.

If Murray is playing as he was on Wednesday, he should prove to be too strong again for his opponent and come through 64, 62.

Petra Kvitova - 3.5 games v Lucie Safarova: This is the battle of two of the top Czech players on the WTA Tour and both Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova have come through tough Second Round matches to set this Third Round match up.

Out of the two players, it was always clear that Kvitova was going to have a tougher match in the last Round as she faced former World Number 1 Venus Williams, but she managed to come through a final set tie-break and could be in for another big run in the Middle East after winning the title in Dubai last year.

These two also met in Sydney last month and it was the second time that Kvitova dominated the match, although she has to be a little more efficient with the chances that may come her way to break serve in this one.

Kvitova's serve also has to be on form if she is to cover this spread as she can mentally wonder in matches, while her shot-making can go a little off which has led to her having a lot of three set matches over the last twelve months. This should be a match that has a lot of winners, but I expect the majority of them to come from the side of the higher Ranked player and I like Kvitova to come through 64, 64.

Angelique Kerber - 4.5 games v Klara Zakopalova: This looks a good chance for Angelique Kerber to reach the Quarter Final here, especially if she continues serving as well as she did in her win on Wednesday as well as her win over Klara Zakopalova when they met in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

On that occasion, Kerber won 40 of 46 points behind serve and was a comfortable winner which isn't surprising as Zakopalova doesn't protect her own serve that well.

She isn't a bad player and I certainly don't think Zakopalova will return serve as badly as she did in Paris, but I do think this is a tough match up for her and it might be hard to back up the surprise win over Ana Ivanovic in the last Round.

Kerber has been showing enough good form in 2014 to think she will have enough in the locker to come through this one with a 64, 62 win.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Daniel Gimeno-Traver: It would have taken a couple of points here and there to have seen Nicolas Almagro reach the Final last week in Vina Del Mar on his comeback to the Tour. It was the first appearance of Almagro in 2014 and he looked pretty good considering and has already won a match here in Buenos Aires to keep the confidence in a good place.

He now faces a compatriot in Daniel Gimeno-Traver who has beaten three times in a row, although they do have a number of tough matches against one another on the clay courts that will be a concern for Almagro backers.

Gimeno-Traver doesn't seemingly have a lot of weapons, but he is very comfortable rallying on the clay courts and that can frustrate a player like Almagro who will continue going for his shots. There is something to be said about not pushing too hard, but that is the way Almagro will play and it has worked the last couple of times they have played one another, albeit on the hard courts.

On the clay the ball slows down enough for Gimeno-Traver to at least force some mistakes from Almagro, but I still think the latter fights through with a 64, 63 win.

Albert Ramos - 2.5 games v Filippo Volandri: Two players that haven't shown a lot of form in the opening weeks of the new season have a chance to change their trends with a Quarter Final place up for grabs in this one.

Both Albert Ramos and Filippo Volandri are very comfortable on the clay courts, although I think Ramos has a little more upside when it comes to the highest level of the Tour compared with Volandri who is definitely saving his best for the Challenger circuit.

Ramos has the more effective serve that should set up his points a little easier and he will be happy to rally with the Italian if he has to and I think there is no surprise to me that Ramos has won 3 of 4 against Volandri.

That includes a couple of wins in 2013, and I think Ramos can put another win in the books in this match too.

Yen-Hsun Lu - 2.5 games v Denis Kudla: I don't think anyone would have predicted Denis Kudla winning as easily as he did in the First Round against Donald Young, but that should have given the young American a lot of belief going forward.

Coming through the qualifiers would have aided Kudla and he will be hoping to catch Yen-Hsun Lu a little cold in his first match since the Australian Open almost a month ago.

Lu is a solid journeyman on the Tour, but he able to raise his level at times as shown by reaching the Final in Auckland before the first Slam of the season, although he hasn't enjoyed much success on the indoor hard courts in recent seasons.

He will make it tough for Kudla with the ability to hit consistently off the ground and having an under-rated serve and I think Lu can win this match. It won't be easy coming off a long lay-off, but I can see Lu winning 76, 63.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Haas + 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Albert Ramos - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Yen-Hsun Lu - 2.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-6, + 3.12 Units (25 Units Staked, + 12.48% Yield)

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