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Friday, 14 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 14th)

To say I was absolutely furious with the picks I made on Thursday won't get close to the where I was after seeing almost every single one do their best to lose in the most ridiculous manner.

I knew what kind of day it was going to be as soon as the Grigor Dimitrov defeat was completed as he was seemingly on the wrong end of a Ernests Gulbis performance where the Latvian is unplayable- this is a rare occurrence and unlikely to be produced again in the near future, but saving all the break points with huge serves and just playing top, top quality stuff behind his serve set the tone for an absolutely miserable day.

Tommy Haas never turned up and had ridiculous serving statistics, Petra Kvitova played within herself for two sets (although you have to credit Lucie Safarova) and was still only one game from covering, but things got steadily worse.

How about Andy Murray taking a double break lead in his match with Dominic Thiem, but then giving away the most ridiculous of games which gave his young opponent the confidence to play his shots?

Or how about Nicolas Almagro being broken 3 times in the first set in a terrible display, but suddenly coming back to life to win the match in three sets and facing only 2 break points the rest of the way?

Absolutely shocking day that has sent this week spiralling out of control and it was hard to contain some of my anger as I hate getting things wrong, but to be so wrong with players deciding to put in lacklustre efforts just bothers me all the more. It just made no sense with the way some of the results came through and I am very much bothered when I keep hitting these shocking runs of loss after loss.

I am down, but I very much plan on beating the ten count and getting ready to punch my way back into some sort of positive run.

Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: This is going to be a big-serving match and initially I may have thought that Tomas Berdych was giving up too many games, but I believe he has the capability of breaking the Jerzy Janowicz serve with the current form he is displaying.

There are times when you watch Berdych and can't help be frustrated as he has a lot of ability but can come off the form he is capable of and that gives opponents a chance. However, this match should be one where he can dictate enough behind his own serve and force the pressure on Janowicz.

They met on the indoor hard courts of Marseille last season and Berdych was a comfortable winner, even if the match was forced into a third set, but the Czech player does seem the more likely to take the few chances that may be presented in the match.

He is 7/13 on break points in his two matches against Janowicz and something similar will give him a great chance of moving through to the Semi Final with a 63, 76 win in the pocket.

Ernests Gulbis + 3.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: Ernests Gulbis was serving out of a tree in his win over Grigor Dimitrov and will have to bring the same form into this match against Juan Martin Del Potro if he is to reverse the result from last season.

He may have more of a chance as Del Potro is still limited off his backhand wing as to how much power he can generate, but the whole match is going to hinge on how effective the Gulbis serve is today.

If, and it is a big if, he can replicate what he produced against Dimitrov, Gulbis will put a lot of pressure on Del Potro and will have his own chances and I think there is every reason to believe this match will at least go into a third set.

There is likely to be a tie-breaker involved too, and those situations means the 3.5 game head start might be a touch high for Del Potro to cover. The Argentine has won comfortably in his two matches so far this week, but this one might be a lot tougher and I like taking the games.

Andy Murray - 3.5 games v Marin Cilic: Marin Cilic has played very well over the last couple of weeks and is looking for his eight win in a row after taking the title in Zagreb and coming through two Rounds here in Rotterdam.

Getting through this Quarter Final is going to be a real test of Cilic's credentials and will also give him a good indication as to how far he is from the top of the game following his return from a three month ban.

His win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was impressive as Cilic dominated the match, but Andy Murray regularly gives him fits and the match is very much on the British Number 1's racquet in my opinion.

Murray had to battle through his match in the last Round against Dominic Thiem, but he admitted he was feeling pretty good and that he should have perhaps converted more chances. Thiem had nothing to lose and was going for his big shots, but Cilic has to overcome the mental barrier which exists when you have lost 9 of 10 and 6 in a row against a single opponent.

They did have a close match in the Final of Queens last season, but Murray's return is likely to give him plenty more chances to win this match with room to spare and I think that is where the match will be won or lost. If Murray takes the chances that come his way, I expect him to get through 64, 64, but if he doesn't, this could be a very close match that could be won by Cilic.

As you can see from the pick, I think Murray will take those opportunities and his return of serve may mentally fatigue a player that has spent a lot of time on the court over the last two weeks.

Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 games v Petra Kvitova: It was only around six months ago that Jelena Jankovic would have been a strong underdog in a match between these two players, but the former World Number 1 has really turned her form around and looks to be coming into this match the stronger of the two.

As much as I like Petra Kvitova's game on the court, she can't keep falling into long three set battles and coming off back to back matches of that nature without a rest day is hard to recover from. I am not doubting her fitness, but Kvitova has to be feeling it a little as she wakes up for this match against an opponent that is capable of mentally exhausting an opponent with her ability to scramble and force the ball into court.

That is what Jankovic has to do- if she can frustrate Kvitova, she will begin to force errors and that will swing the edge in this match in her direction. She also is a decent shot-maker, although Jankovic's serve can go a little haywire at times and that is my biggest concern in the match.

However, I think all the tennis of the last couple of days may just take its toll on Kvitova in this Quarter Final and I like Jankovic to come through 76, 64.

Tommy Robredo - 3.5 games v Robin Haase: It is an interesting Quarter Final between these two players, but I think Tommy Robredo's added experience on a clay court will prove to be vital as well as his all around more consistent game.

Robredo won't fluctuate too far between his levels, but Robin Haase can be criticised for doing that at times, and that could be enough to help the veteran Spaniard reach a Semi Final.

There is little doubt that Haase has the bigger serve of the two, but he does seem to lose his focus when it comes to the groundstrokes and that is where the uber-consistent Robredo could come through and win each set with a break more. There will be breaks of serve both ways, but I can see Robredo matching his 64, 64 win over Haase in Portugal on the clay courts last season.

Fabio Fognini - 4.5 games v Pablo Andujar: Over the last nine months, there hasn't been a player on the Tour in better form on the clay courts than Fabio Fognini as he continues in 2014 where he left off last summer.

This could be a strong season for the Italian if he can keep the momentum he has built up in that time by winning another title on the Golden Swing in South America, especially with the European clay court season around six weeks away.

Fognini hasn't just won matches, but he has been dismissing a lot of his opponents and I think it may be tough for Pablo Andujar to keep tabs on him, even if the Spaniard is very comfortable on the clay courts himself.

Neither player will dominate off the serve, but Fognini looks like he is playing confident, effective tennis off the ground and I think he will be able to knock off Andujar with room to spare in this one. I don't think I ever believed I would back Fognini with so many games being given up, but he is such hot form on the clay that he has to be backed here.

Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: Nicolas Almagro started off incredibly cold in his last match against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, but had another win to give him a boost after returning from injury. He served terribly in the first set, but found his rhythm in the final two sets and bringing that to this match will be important.

The amount of time he spent on court yesterday may have been a worry initially, but his opponent Jeremy Chardy had an even tougher encounter as he saved match points to see off Alexandr Dolgopolov.

This match should see both men looking to dictate things behind the serve, but that should be a strength for Almagro as well as the clay court pedigree that the Spaniard has. There is no doubt that Chardy can perform on the surface, but I think he can get a little frustrated with the longer rallies and may not have the patience to really get it going on the clay, although he will knock off 'lesser' opponents the majority of the time.

Unfortunately for Chardy, Almagro certainly is not one of the lesser opponents he will face and I think the latter will add to his four wins on the Tour over the Frenchman and come through a tough match 76, 64.

Yen-Hsun Lu - 3.5 games v Alex Kuznetsov: Any friends and family of Alex Kuznetsov must be proud of their guy as he finally won back to back matches on the Tour after a decade long career. Getting into his first Semi Final will be a big task against Yen-Hsun Lu who had to recover from a set down to beat Denis Kudla in the last Round and must be confident of getting further.

Lu has had a decent season already with one Final under his belt and he will feel he can get to another here in Memphis with Feliciano Lopez falling out of the draw. I also think the match under his belt will help Lu who should be too strong for a player that generally plays at the level below the main ATP one.

He has to be a little tougher when it comes to facing break points as he struggled under that pressure against Kudla, but he also created plenty of opportunities and you have to think he will do the same against an opponent who is of a similar level to Kudla.

As I said, Lu has to serve better, but I think the match under his belt will help a lot and I think he will come through with a break in each set for a 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 2.14 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis + 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 3.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Robredo - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Yen-Hsun Lu - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-5, - 1.02 Units (41 Units Staked, - 2.49% Yield)

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