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Friday, 7 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 7th)

It certainly has been one of those bad weeks that you will see during the course of an eleven month season as the third player this week has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Federico Delbonis had match points in the third set against Taro Daniel but couldn't find the winning shot, although a fairer reflection of the match would have seen him close it out in two sets.

Instead he ends up on the wrong side of a 16, 76, 76 loss and that kind of sums up the way the picks have landed for me in what has been a miserable run of bad luck.

I am the first to admit bad picks, but I also would be very harsh on myself to think Kenny de Schepper, Andrey Golubev and now Delbonis should not have ended in the winner's enclosure and actually put a much better spin on the week.

The only positive result to take from the week so far is Richard Gasquet making it through to the Quarter Final in Montpellier, although the dangerous Gael Monfils remains in the draw in what has become a much more comfortable bottom half of the draw.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Ivan Dodig: The long absence from tennis came to an end for Marin Cilic at the end of last season following his ban from the Tour, but he is yet to really have an impact as he looks to recover his form.

The chance to play in front of his own fans at an event where he has enjoyed plenty of success may help him get back to the form that we expect of him and I think he is going to be too strong for his compatriot Ivan Dodig in this Quarter Final.

Cilic has dominated the head to head between the players and has come through two matches here without dropping a set, albeit against players ranked much lower than Dodig, and those wins should give him some confidence. He enjoys the indoor hard courts in Zagreb and has the serve to at least keep Dodig on his heels a little and not allow the latter to come forward to attack.

His opponent may have come through in straight sets against Ivo Karlovic, but Dodig will be aware that he needs to serve better in this one after giving up 7 break point chances yesterday. Dodig hasn't had the best starts to 2014 himself, but is another former winner here so this should be a fairly close match.

However, Cilic may be playing a little more solid tennis at the moment and should have enough to come through 76, 64.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 games v Daniel Evans: At first glance, I did feel this was a lot of games for the German player to be giving up in this match, but I think Philipp Kohlschreiber should be able to cover against Daniel Evans.

The reason I believe that is because Evans does have the tendency to lose sets comfortably at times, including losing the first set 61 to Michael Berrer in his Second Round win yesterday.

Evans has a high-risk kind of game and even being slightly off means he can produce a glut of errors, although he is playing with a little more belief in his own game and can cause upsets as shown in his run to the Third Round at the US Open last season.

Having to play three qualifiers may also have taken something out of his energy tank too and I think Kohlschreiber has an effective enough return to cause problems. If Evans isn't serving well, Kohlschreiber should prove a little too experienced and move through to the Semi Final with a 62, 64 win under his belt.

Jarkko Nieminen - 2.5 games v Marc Gicquel: A battle between two veterans for a place in the Semi Finals should be won by the higher ranked Jarkko Nieminen in my opinion, although Marc Gicquel has been able to upset two players in a row.

Gicquel's win over Gilles Simon yesterday could at least be put down to the fact that the latter has had a few issues with his health to open 2014 and we may not see the best of Simon until the clay court season or perhaps beyond.

I just feel Gicquel has a lot of tennis in his legs already this week and Jarkko Nieminen, while not blowing out his opponents, has been playing solid enough to beat this opponent for the fifth time in his career.

There will likely be breaks of serve both ways, even if both players have been serving pretty well this week, but I believe Nieminen will have more chances to earn those breaks of serve and can come through 75, 64.

Gael Monfils - 3.5 games v Denis Istomin: One of the stranger players on Tour when it comes to consistency, Denis Istomin can fluctuate between someone who would look comfortable in the top 20 to someone who would struggle to beat a player outside of the top 100 at times.

To beat Gael Monfils in front of his home support, Istomin will have to serve much better than he did in the second set against Dmitry Tursunov yesterday when he was broken three times.

Monfils is another player that can be hard to get a real read on, but he has been a little more aggressive from what I have seen in 2014 and this could be a very productive year for the former top 10 player. He should be much higher in the Rankings than his current position of 30 and he has served fairly effectively again this week.

He will need to do that in this tough Quarter Final, but I do believe Monfils has the edge in the match when it comes to the serve and I expect him to force mistakes from the Istomin game with his defensive skills.

Monfils matches are rarely straight-forward, but I think he can come through 75, 63.

Nicolas Almagro - 5.5 games v Taro Daniel: I don't like backing players that are coming off long lay offs like the one that Nicolas Almagro has had thanks to a shoulder injury, but he looked solid enough in his first match that I think this match up is one he should be able to dominate.

I backed against Taro Daniel yesterday too, but the Japanese youngster showed enough battling spirit, coupled with Federico Delbonis throwing things away, to come through in three long sets.

With qualifiers played as well this week, it will be interesting to see how much Daniel has left, particularly if he is offering as many opportunities on his own serve as he did in the Second Round.

Almagro served well through his own three set win and my only concern is how sore he is feeling following his first match in three months. He has been given the full time to recover with this match last on court on Friday in Vina Del Mar, but that is the only nagging doubt I have.

If Almagro is feeling as good as yesterday, it will be tough to break his serve and I believe he will reach the Semi Final with a 62, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jarkko Nieminen - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-6, - 9.3 Units (12 Units Staked, - 77.5% Yield)

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