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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 18th)

Monday is usually a quiet day in terms of tournament matches, but Tuesday is when a there is a lot of action to get through the day and it will all begin early in Dubai and go through to Delray Beach deep into the evening.

Samantha Stosur - 3.5 games v Annika Beck: Samantha Stosur is turning 30 at the end of next month and that usually signals a downward trend in a player's performance, especially on the WTA Tour. Over the last twelve months, Stosur has been dropping down the Rankings and seems to be losing more matches that she isn't expected to in that time.

That means the layers are beginning to take fewer chances with her opponents and the prices have become more reasonable on Stosur who has been over-rated somewhat in recent months.

The first serve is still effective, but the second is becoming more attackable, but I am not sure Annika Beck is yet in a position to take advantage of those issues. Coming through the qualifiers would give Beck a good idea of the conditions she will be facing, while she has just celebrated her 20th birthday in the last couple of days after a decent performance in Doha last week too.

However, Beck is still looking to find her consistency on the Tour and I think that is where Stosur should still have a little too much in her locker and come through 64, 64.

Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 games v Sabine Lisicki: It has been a disappointing start to the season for Sabine Lisicki as she had to withdraw from Doha, the second tournament already in 2014 that she has to be withdraw from.

Now she faces an opponent that can frustrate her in Caroline Wozniacki, even if the Dane has shown little to suggest she will get back up the Rankings following her drop in the last eighteen months. Wozniacki lost a close match last week against Yanina Wickmayer, but she had her chances in that match and has the game that can give her the edge in this one.

The power will definitely come from the Lisicki side of the court, but she can be inconsistent at times and can go through poor runs of form that sees her drop a number of games in succession fairly rapidly.

I am also aware that Wozniacki's serve is not really something you can rely upon so she may lose a couple of breaks of serve at times, but I think she finds a way to come through this match 64, 64.

Angelique Kerber v Ana Ivanovic: Ana Ivanovic made a fast start to 2014 with a title win in Auckland and reaching the Quarter Final at the Australian Open where she did beat Serena Williams. However, I think a slight niggle affected her game in the loss to Eugenie Bouchard in that Quarter Final and she was a disappointing early loser in Doha last week.

Ivanovic didn't serve well in either match last week and she will have to do better against a player like Angelique Kerber who was still full of smiles and positive feeling despite losing in the Final at Doha on Sunday.

For most of the week, Kerber had been serving well and that may prove to be the difference between the two players in this match. Even the long week under her belt isn't enough to put me off Kerber as she has also won the last two matches against Ivanovic and I think she are more doubts about the latter's form.

It's a tough First Round match and hard to separate the two players on a level playing field, but I think Kerber has been serving better of the two players and will use that to win this match.

Leonardo Mayer - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos: Both Leonardo Mayer and Albert Ramos are comfortable on the clay courts, but it is the former that is showing off the better form in recent weeks and I think he can progress in this First Round match.

Albert Ramos at least put a couple of wins in the bank last week in Buenos Aires which will help his confidence, but Leonard Mayer has reached a Final in the last couple of weeks and it is only Fabio Fognini that has proved too good for him.

Wins over the likes of Tommy Robredo will give Mayer the belief that he can have another decent week in what is always important tournaments for the players who want to move up the Rankings. There will be breaks of serve, but Mayer looks the one that has more form and won the last meeting between these players comfortably last summer.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: He had lost seven Finals in a row, but David Ferrer snapped the run by taking the title for the third time in Buenos Aires and that should give him a shot of belief that could see him go all the way through the draw this week.

To win the event in Rio de Janeiro will mean beating Rafael Nadal, but Ferrer is probably the only player in the draw that will really believe he can do that, and I am expecting a good start from him against a dangerous First Round opponent.

Jeremy Chardy is probably more effective on the hard courts, but he is also fairly accomplished as a clay court player in these types of events.

However, I think Ferrer has the consistency to extract errors and that should be where the difference in the outcome is made... I will look for Ferrer to come through a tight first set 75 and then pull away for a 63 second set and a straight sets win.

Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games v Tim Smyczek: A long lay off since the Australian Open is probably the biggest concern for Kevin Anderson in this First Round match against an opponent he has seen off three times before and all with some comfort.

You know what you are going to get from someone like Anderson- he will like to dictate things behind his big serve and use the pressure of holding serve to put his opponent under the cosh and I think that is where he will dominate this match.

Tim Smyczek's best performances remain on the Challenger Tour and he was a comfortable loser against Michael Russell last week.

He was also beaten here in Delray Beach by Anderson twelve months ago and I can see a similar 63, 64 scoreline this time around too.

John Isner - 3.5 games v Michael Russell: Another big server that has had to have some time off is John Isner who was suffering with ankle troubles and is making his first appearance since the Australian Open.

Isner has dominated Michael Russell in the past and the only issue to figure is whether he is ready to return to the court. He has played well on the American hard courts in the past and does have a title under his belt from Auckland, while Isner's serve is always the big leveller even when he is not entirely on form.

There is no doubt that Russell also can't have a lot left in the tank for the Tour and he is coming off a strong week in Memphis which may have taken away some energy for the tournament this week. He hadn't had a lot of success in 2014 before last week and I think the pressure generated by the Isner serve will prove to be the difference.

The first set may be a tight one, but Isner should be too good and come through 76, 63.

MY PICKS: Samantha Stosur - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Leonardo Mayer - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Victor (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
John Isner - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-0, + 5.34 Units (5 Units Staked, + 106.8% Yield)

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