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Friday, 21 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 21st)

Over the last couple of days, I have seen at least four players get themselves into strong winning positions, but have then been unable to take the chances that have come their way to finish the match off, which has led to some frustration.

There was a slight profit made on the picks yesterday, but Alexandr Dolgopolov, Albert Ramos and arguably Ernests Gulbis all missed big chances to produce the cover, with the former two suddenly blowing all the momentum.

Momentum might not be a tangible aspect of sport, but there is no doubt that a human being would feel a match slipping and have the intelligence to register that they may need to do something more- a lot of the times that can produce, when it comes to tennis, unforced errors and mistakes as players are 'trying too hard' to change the feel of a match.

On some occasions, it produces inspired tennis while the player with all the momentum is also guilty of becoming 'over-confident' and thus missing shots that they may not have been.

That may have been the case for Dolgopolov and Gulbis who had many chances to break serve in the last sets of their matches that would have helped the picks come in as winners, but you have to move on from this.

The better news is that all three outright picks made at the beginning of the week have all reached the Quarter Finals which are to be played today. Hopefully tomorrow I will be talking about three Semi Finalists as the tournaments move forward on Friday.

Ernests Gulbis - 2.5 games v Nicolas Mahut: Ernests Gulbis came through a tough Second Round match last night and it will be interesting to see if that has taken much wind out of his sails or whether his confidence has increased in a decent part of the season for him.

On a normal day, I would favour him to beat Nicolas Mahut 8/10 times on the indoor hard courts, even if Mahut has played fairly well this week.

The problem for Mahut is that this two previous opponents are not of the same level as Gulbis who has been serving well, but also forcing pressure on his opponents with a solid return of serve. While Mahut will hit his big serves and win some cheap points, the pressure should tell as the match goes on and Gulbis should be the one who dictates the majority of the rallies.

The Frenchman is capable of getting to the net and putting away good volleys, but I would think Gulbis is going to come through a tight first set before finding a key break in the second to win this one 76, 64.

Michael Llodra - 3.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: There could be quite a lot of tennis in the legs of Jan-Lennard Struff ahead of this Quarter Final as he has needed three sets to win his two previous matches and reached the Final in Bergamo last week on the Challenger Tour.

Facing someone like Michael Llodra can bring its own mental pressure if the Frenchman keeps producing the big serves to hold his own and force his opponents to try and keep up.

Llodra actually returned pretty effectively in his win over Andreas Seppi too and he should have some confidence restored with back to back wins, his first of 2014 on the singles circuit. He has also beaten Struff twice last season, once on the indoor hard courts, and I think he will have a few chances to earn the breaks of serve in this match too.

As long as Llodra can take the chances that come his way, he may find himself a break advantage up in both sets as he comes through 64, 64 to another Semi Final in front of his home support.

Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Alize Cornet: Serena Williams is still comfortably the best player on the WTA Tour and she seems to have recovered from some of the injury problems that saw her exit the Australian Open surprisingly early.

Williams dismissed an in-form Jelena Jankovic without too many issues and I would expect her to do the same to Alize Cornet in this Semi Final.

You have to admire someone like Cornet who will run hard all day long on the court and the Frenchwoman is showing signs of the potential that most expected her to have and is coming off a career year in 2013.

However, she doesn't really have the power to trouble someone like Serena Williams and I think that will ultimately be the biggest problem in a 63, 62 defeat.

David Ferrer - 5.5 games v Thomaz Bellucci: A couple of years ago, this would have been a tough Quarter Final for David Ferrer to deal with, but I think Thomaz Bellucci is still far below the level that is going to be needed to win this match.

He will have the home support, but Bellucci has also had to come through two matches that have gone the distance and is facing a player that will look to keep him out on the court for long periods at a time.

Having to go through what he will to win points is going to be tough for Bellucci and I think that is where Ferrer will wear him down and then come through fairly comfortably.

There will likely be breaks in both directions, but Bellucci will need to serve incredibly well to avoid going down 64, 62 in my opinion.

Kevin Anderson - 2.5 games v Marinko Matosevic: Both of these players got through their Second Round matches thanks to a retirement on the other side of the net so neither can complain about fatigue as they look to reach the Semi Final.

Neither Kevin Anderson nor Marinko Matosevic has been pulling up trees to open 2014, but I think the big South African is going to continue his dominance of the pair in the head to head and come through.

Anderson's serve is the more reliable of the two and that can put pressure on opponents to keep up, while I also think Matosevic doesn't always put together the best game plan. The Australian hits the ball hard, but sometimes he goes for a little too much and winds up making far too many errors.

That may prove to be the reason he loses this match and I think Anderson comes through 76, 64 after breaking the spirit a little in the first set.

Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 games v Steve Johnson: Steve Johnson showed some grit to beat the top seed Tommy Haas in the Second Round, but it doesn't get much easier for him as he faces Feliciano Lopez in this Quarter Final.

The only concern for Lopez is having to have come through two matches that have lasted the distance already this week, but he is enjoying the conditions and being a left hander may be the key to beating the American.

Lopez will know that Johnson's backhand can be a little erratic and is clearly the weaker wing and will look to use his forehand to open up the other side of the court by forcing Johnson to perhaps cheat to one side.

If he had a better backhand of his own, it might been a little easier for Lopez, but I think he is capable of getting to the net and putting away volleys, while Johnson struggled at times when he was forced forward. Johnson's serve will get him out of trouble at times, but I think he rode his luck a little in the last two sets against Haas and I like Lopez to come through 76, 64.

MY PICKS: Ernests Gulbis - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Michael Llodra - 3.5 Games @ 2.33 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 5.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 13-12, - 1.25 Units (48 Units Staked, - 2.6% Yield)

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