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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 26th)

I am writing this post before the last match of Tuesday night that I picked had been completed and it is already a decent start to the week thanks to the earlier picks going 3-1.

Even with that positive start, it should really have been a clean sweep from the early matches as Igor Sijsling somehow found a loss from his match with Malek Jaziri despite opening with a bagel set and dominating the rest of the match. The Dutchman missed a number of match points too as he ended up on the wrong side of a 06, 64, 76 loss in the First Round and I am never a fan of picks leaving a win out there.

At the end of the day, a profit is a profit so I can't be too downbeat and will be looking for things to continue trending in a positive direction as we move on to the middle of the week. The ATP tournament in Dubai ends on Saturday which means there is a lot of tennis to be played there as they get through the Second Round in one day, while I will have to update any picks from Sao Paulo and Acapulco during the day.

I will also update the weekly total at that point once the remaining match is completed from the Acapulco tournament.

Tomas Berdych - 5.5 games v Sergiy Stakhovsky: If you were to go by Twitter, you would think these two players are friendly with one another off the court, but I still don't see that taking the edge off the in-form Tomas Berdych in the Second Round match.

With Juan Martin Del Potro retiring from the tournament, Tomas Berdych will be the favourite to at least return to the Final he made it twelve months ago and he has been in very decent nick to open 2014 to think he will get through this match.

Berdych has not just been serving well, but he is returning serve with real effect and I think he will produce enough pressure on Sergiy Stakhovsky to find a couple of breaks in one set. I will say one thing in that Stakhovsky can build a nice rhythm on serve, but he had to come through a long match on Tuesday and fatigue could play a part both mentally and physically if Berdych brings his game of recent weeks to the court.

As long as he doesn't drop serve with a poor game, Berdych should prove too good and come through 62, 64.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Radek Stepanek: It has been an impressive start to the 2014 season from Roger Federer which will have excited his fans and he made a fast start to the tournament in Dubai with a comfortable win over Benjamin Becker.

I would expect Radek Stepanek to offer a different challenge and the Czech player can regularly be a thorn in the side of opponents.

He hits the ball a little flatter than most, especially off the forehand, while Stepanek will employ serve and volley tactics when under pressure or on big points. He is comfortable at the net and Stepanek is also quite unique with his behaviour on the court as well as the variations in the shots he uses.

However, he is unlikely to fluster Federer who has played him 15 times on the Tour and will be expecting some antics on the court. I also feel Federer is feeling a little more comfortable with the new racquet he is using and continuing to serve as well as he has been to open the season should help Federer ease to a 63, 63 win.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Federico Delbonis: Nicolas Almagro has beaten Federico Delbonis in each of the last two years in Buenos Aires, but there is no doubt the young Argentine is getting closer in being able to make this a competitive match.

Almagro has returned from a lay-off and played some decent tennis over the last couple of weeks, although he is not as solid as he usually is on the clay courts which will give his opponent a chance in this one.

That will especially be the case if Delbonis is serving well, but I still believe there are issues with his fitness that have been exposed in the last couple of weeks. It is a tough Tour on the clay courts where the rallies are extended and you have to feel Delbonis is still settling into his body and getting used to pushing himself as much as he is on the ATP main Tour.

The level is higher and I think a tight first set may end up being followed by a more straight-forward second for Almagro and help him move through 76, 62.

Tommy Haas - 3.5 games v Potito Starace: There is a chance I will regret this pick considering Tommy Haas is coming off the hard courts to play this single clay court tournament before returning to the United States for Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.

The more realistic scheduling may have seen the veteran take the courts in Acapulco so there is a real part of me that is questioning his motivation and determination to do well here in Sao Paulo.

However, I think Haas is still being a tad under-rated against Potito Starace who is no longer a regular competitor on the main Tour but has been playing Challenger tournaments. He has come through the qualifiers here, but Starace was always hindered by a serve that is attackable and I think that will be the problem for him this week.

A motivated Haas would clearly be too good for Starace, even on the clay courts, and I still have faith he can come through this match with a 64, 64 win.

Ivo Karlovic win 2-0 v Dudi Sela: Ivo Karlovic played the big points well in his First Round win over John Isner and the man that reached the Final in Memphis recently could go deep in the draw this week too.

He has dominated the head to head against Dudi Sela in the past mainly because the Israeli player has struggled to get to grips with the huge serve that Karlovic possesses.

The height difference between the men makes it tough for Sela to make enough effective returns, while his own serve can offer up some chances to break serve and help Karlovic get over the line in this one.

Karlovic has been serving very well of late and has won 10 of 11 previous sets against Sela, although they are 1-1 when it comes to tie-breaks competed, but I do think Karlovic wins 76, 63.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Joao Sousa: Andy Murray had to come from a set behind to beat Pablo Andujar in the First Round and has also made a note of the humid temperatures in Mexico having normally made a stop in Dubai at this time of the season.

I think the first match would have really helped in giving Murray an idea of the conditions in Acapulco and I expect him to be far too strong for Joao Sousa in this Second Round match.

Sousa doesn't have the serve that will help him pick up cheap points against someone who can return as effectively as Murray and I think that is an area where the Portuguese player will have a hard time competing in the match.

It was no surprise that Murray dismissed Sousa's challenge so effectively in Australia last year and I expect him to similarly get over the challenge at this event too with a 62, 64 win not out of the question.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tommy Haas - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic win 2-0 @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-1, + 4.46 Units (10 Units Staked, + 44.6% Yield)

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