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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 4th)

The Australian Open is in the books and the First Round of the Davis Cup has been completed which means the ATP Tour can move on with events taking place in three countries this week. I have only made one outright pick from those events which can be read here.

It is one of the quieter weeks on the Tour in terms of the Ranking points that are available and from next week, we will see three straight ATP 500 events played up to the first Masters tournament of the season at Indian Wells which is quickly followed by the one in Miami.

That means the majority of the top players on the Tour are not involved in any action this week, but that doesn't mean there won't be some good tennis to enjoy.

Michael Llodra - 2.5 games v Marc Gicquel: Michael Llodra may be a better Doubles player than a Singles one these days, but the indoor hard courts are as effective for his serve-volley game than any other on the Tour.

Despite having a losing record on the Tour over the last three seasons, Llodra has a 17-12 on the indoor hard courts at the highest level while he also has a 16-6 record in either Challenger or qualifiers over the same period.

The left handed serve makes it that much more effective for Llodra and I would think he will be too strong for the veteran Marc Gicquel who has come through the qualifiers this week so should be comfortable in the conditions he will be seeing. However, Gicquel is no longer the same player of previous years and has never really enjoyed the task of facing Llodra has shown up by the 3-0 head to head lead for the latter.

While Gicquel should have some success behind his own serve, the pressure of keeping up with Llodra, as long as he is serving well, could be too much for Gicquel to deal with.

Indoor hard courts have been Llodra's only domain of real success on the Tour and he loves playing in front of his home fans. After reaching the Semi Final here last season, I expect Llodra to move through to the Second Round with a 76, 63 win.

Kenny de Schepper - 1.5 games v Albano Olivetti: Now I don't feel particularly good about backing someone like Kenny de Schepper in normal circumstances as he has a huge serve, but struggles with a lot of the other aspects of tennis which leads to a more consistent performance at the top level.

Fortunately for de Schepper, this is not a top level match and he should prove too good for Albano Olivetti despite the young Frenchman coming through the qualifiers this week.

The Rankings of the players that Olivetti beat this week to qualify for the main draw doesn't exactly inspire and I think he will have a tough time dealing with this serve through the match. That will only mean pushing a little too hard when it comes to his own service games and giving de Schepper the chance to come through fairly comfortably.

You have to credit Olivetti for hitting plenty of big serves himself this week to come through his three matches, but I expect de Schepper will win a close first set and then pull away for a 76, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Michael Llodra - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kenny de Schepper - 1.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

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