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Thursday, 29 May 2014

French Open Day 5 Picks 2014 (May 29th)

It was yet another day of surprise results in the women's tournament with Serena Williams exiting at the hands of Garbine Muguruza which means for the first time in the Open era, the two top seeds have failed to make it to at least the Third Round.

As well as Muguruza played, it was a tepid display from Serena and once again there have to be questions about the relative lack of success that Williams has had in the Grand Slams considering her overall dominance of the women's game over the last couple of years.

Too many surprising defeats have prevented her adding to her Grand Slam haul and Muguruza joins the likes of Virginie Razzano, Sloane Stephens, Ana Ivanovic and Sabine Lisicki who have beaten Williams in surprising circumstances in the Slams.

The exit of the top two market leaders in the women's draw has opened up the entire tournament, especially for someone like Maria Sharapova who may be the biggest beneficiary of Williams' exit. However, the tournament could also crown a new Grand Slam Champion with both Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic dangerous players in the second half of the draw, although both still have to get through some tough matches to reach the Final.

Juan Monaco - 1.5 sets v Andreas Seppi: This looks a classic clay court match between two players that are very comfortable on the surface and likely would consider the Grand Slam as the Major in which they can achieve their best results.

Juan Monaco has had his best results in the Grand Slams here in Paris and has shown some signs of form over the last couple of weeks while also coming through his First Round comfortably. He has to work hard for his points, but is able to construct points on the clay courts and also use his speed around the court to extend rallies from the back of the court.

He won't have an easy time against Andreas Seppi who came through against Santiago Giraldo in a surprising First Round win. The Italian has a similar style to Monaco in having to work his groundstrokes around after a serve that isn't going to earn too many cheap points and I can see a few breaks of serve each way during the match.

However, I feel Monaco is a little more consistent and a little more solid on the clay courts and comes through in three or four sets.

Richard Gasquet - 3.5 games v Carlos Berlocq: Richard Gasquet was an easy winner in the First Round against the out of form Bernard Tomic, but he did admit that he was still having a few issues with his back that has forced him out of the clay court season over the last two months.

He has also explained to the media that he will do his best at the French Open with this being his home Grand Slam and he did reach the Fourth Round last season, but it should be a much bigger testy for Gasquet in the Second Round against Carlos Berlocq.

The Argentinian seems to get under his opponent's skin with his loud grunting during points, and he has plenty of experience on the clay courts with two titles on the surface over the last nine months. Berlocq will battle hard and give Gasquet plenty to think about, but his serve can be vulnerable and the higher Ranked player would be expected to progress in full health.

The back injury is a concern, but I still believe Gasquet finds a way to come through and win this one in four sets.

Fernando Verdasco win 3-1 v Pablo Cuevas: Over the last couple of seasons, Pablo Cuevas has missed a lot of time on the Tour, but he remains a solid clay court competitor who should be able to give Fernando Verdasco some things to think about in this Second Round match.

Both players came through the First Round in straight sets although Verdasco needed two tie-breakers to see off Michael Llodra and I do think this will be a competitive match for much of the time they spend on court.

However, you have to think the added power on the Verdasco side of the court can end up making the difference in the match, although the Spaniard can be guilty of losing his concentration at times. With that in mind, Cuevas has played well enough on the clay courts to think he can take advantage and at least take on set in the match, although probably not have enough to win more than that and I do think Verdasco moves through in four sets.

Camila Giorgi + 4.5 games v Svetlana Kuznetsova: She may now be considered a veteran of the WTA Tour, but Svetlana Kuznetsova remains a dangerous competitor when she brings her best tennis to the court. With both Na Li and Serena Williams out of the tournament, the former French Open winner may just feel she can have another deep run at Roland Garros, especially if she can negotiate a tough Second Round draw.

Kuznetsova cruised through the First Round, but Camila Giorgi has the youth and power that could potentially cause a lot of problems and I certainly feel the Italian will take to the court with plenty of belief.

She has a decent serve that could set up a few easy points, while Giorgi has the power to make Kuznetsova move around the court, although that is still a strength of the latter, and that has surprised me with the number of games being handed to Giorgi in this one.

I still believe Kuznetsova is most likely to move through, but it may take three tight sets to get the job done.

Sloane Stephens v Polona Hercog: I know of at least one other person on my Twitter timeline that was perhaps surprised with the price that the layers have for this match which is essentially a pick 'em and I believe that might be a little too long for the American Sloane Stephens to win the match.

My reasoning for the prices is simply Stephens' poor form for much of the 2014 season and the clay courts being her least favoured surface, while Polona Hercog can at least point to the success she has had on the surface.

On talent alone, Stephens would be the justifiable favourite, but she can blow hot and cold and struggles to cope mentally at time with what she is seeing on the court. However, Hercog may help her through those moments with her own lapses of concentration and patches of making too many errors.

The power is on Stephens side of the court too and I think she will make it through to the Fourth Round if she harnesses that and tries to stay in the moment mentally rather than getting too down on herself in her moments of crisis on the court. Either way, Stephens looks too big here and I will back the American to come through, although possibly in three tough sets.

Petra Kvitova - 5.5 games v Marina Erakovic: Backing Petra Kvitova to cover spreads of more than a couple of games has been hard work over the last twelve months simply because of the amounts of times she has been forced into three sets.

Kvitova has struggled for the consistency that took her to the Wimbledon title and is far more erratic these days which can even turn up from set to set and not match to match as it can for other inconsistent players. She did come through the First Round match relatively comfortably and I think the match up does favour her against Marina Erakovic, especially on a clay court.

The latter also came through fairly comfortably in the First Round, but Erakovic hasn't shown a lot of positive form on the clay courts during this portion of the season and she has taken some heavy losses in that time. The New Zealander hits the ball hard and has a decent first serve, but she may struggle to match the power that Kvitova brings to the court with any consistency.

That isn't to say Kvitova is going to consistently hit winners either, but I think a tight first set may lead to a more comfortable second set which results in the match being won 64, 62 by the Czech player.

MY PICKS: Juan Monaco - 1.5 Sets @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco Win 3-1 @ 3.80 Bodog (1 Unit)
Camila Giorgi + 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sloane Stephens @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

French Open Update: 9-6, + 4.80 Units (29 Units Staked, + 16.55% Yield)

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