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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Rome Tennis Picks 2014 (May 15th)

The tournament in Rome continues on Thursday after the dramatics of the Wednesday night match between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Simon which won't have done much for those who have already pencilled in a Nadal win at the upcoming French Open.

In years past, Nadal would run through these clay tournaments with barely a sweat broken and he certainly wouldn't be getting pushed to the edge as he has been over the last six weeks. He is making matches out of opponents that most would expect the Spaniard to have too much for on the clay courts, but Nadal is struggling and the draw is going to determine what happens to him at Roland Garros.


There was also a loss for Roger Federer which was perhaps unsurprising in hindsight after he became a father again last week- there must have been a few sleepless nights for Federer and he admitted before the tournament that he wasn't expecting a lot from it.

The unforced errors would concern a perfectionist that Federer is, but I also think he will be happy being able to focus on Roland Garros and spending more time with the newest members of his family in the next two weeks.


It was also another positive day for the picks, although Andrey Golubev's retirement just two games from defeat and some poor serving from Tomas Berdych prevented it being a far better day. I can't complain with a positive return after the previous week in Madrid so I won't worry myself too much about the results that didn't go the way I wanted, but will just look for Thursday to be another positive step towards a successful week.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Milos Raonic: Both of these players would prefer the hard courts and the faster surfaces in general to aid their game, but both have shown signs in the past of being able to be competitive on the clay courts too.

Of the two players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga certainly has the better clay court pedigree with strong showings in his home Grand Slam in Paris.

Tsonga may also have an added advantage of facing a big-server in Kevin Anderson on Wednesday and that may give him additional patience that is required on the clay courts. The Frenchman has won both previous matches against Milos Raonic, although both have been tight, closely contested matches and I will look for him to make it three in a row.


Tomas Berdych-Grigor Dimitrov Over 23.5 Games: This is the fifth time these two players will be meeting one another and the previous four have all gone the distance, including in Madrid last week.

With the way both Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov both play, there is every chance that this could also go three sets as both players can hit hot form, but also come off the boil at times.

The serves are solid weapons for both players too, but again this is an area where both Berdych and Dimitrov can suddenly throw in a bad game and both players are closely matched to think it could be competitive and another long match between them.


Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: Rafael Nadal isn't in great form and that is despite him winning the title in Madrid last week, while he is also coming off a huge match against Gilles Simon that must have taken something out of him.

With no rest days between matches in the Masters tournaments, Nadal's fitness has to be the concern in a match up that has proven very comfortable for him over the last few years.

Mikhail Youzhny was never a player that troubled Nadal on the clay courts simply because his weight of shot wasn't effective enough on the slower courts and getting into the net, one of Youzhny's strengths, is much more difficult on the clay courts.

He does have the character to not take a backward step against Nadal, but if the latter is ready to go, I would expect he could record a 62, 64 win and move into the Quarter Finals.


David Ferrer - 3.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: This is another rematch from Madrid last week and I expect David Ferrer to frank the form that saw him beat Ernests Gulbis in the Quarter Final.

That improved Ferrer's record to 3-0 against Gulbis and I think he can take advantage of his rest from Wednesday while the Latvian was having to struggle through against Stephane Robert.

The clay courts should favour Ferrer, but Gulbis does have his best Grand Slam result on the clay courts too so he won't be intimidated by the task in front of him. Unfortunately, Ferrer is also capable of seeing his opponents break down against his as he tests their resolve and consistency with the longer rallies and his solid defensive play.

It was that kind of play that gave Gulbis a tough time in Madrid and I think the slightly slower conditions here will favour Ferrer a little more so a similar result to last week looks on the cards.


Ana Ivanovic + 4.5 games v Maria Sharapova: Ana Ivanovic can be guilty of lacking consistency off the ground and I also feel she can drop her head when falling behind in matches, but I still believe she is being under-estimated with the games head start she is being given.

As erratic as Ivanovic's serve can be, I expect her to get after Maria Sharapova's serve and force some breaks for herself which will give her a good chance to take a set and cover with the games she is given.

Ivanovic has heavy groundies that can cause Sharapova problems and they will be meeting for the fifth time on a clay court in the last two years. In that time, the Russian has won every match, but Ivanovic would have covered with this head start in all but one of those matches. That includes their three set battle in Stuttgart last month and I think backing the Serb to keep this competitive is the far to go.


Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: I will be backing another big Serbian star to move through to the Quarter Finals as I expect Jelena Jankovic to be a little too solid for Flavia Pennetta, despite the home support the latter will receive.

This is another rematch of one that took place in Stuttgart last month which resulted in yet another win for Jankovic over Pennetta and she has also beaten the Italian here in Rome previously, albeit back in 2008.

Both players are solid competitors that play on the edge of their emotions and neither is afraid to show off their emotions during matches.

Confidence should be higher on Jankovic's side of the court as she continues to win plenty of tennis matches on the clay courts and I believe she will have a little too much consistency for Pennetta to keep up with. I won't be surprised to see a number of breaks of serve, but eventually suspect the Serb moves through 64, 46, 63.

MY PICKS: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych-Grigor Dimitrov Over 23.5 Total Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Rome Update: 7-5, + 2.1 Units (24 Units Staked, + 8.75% Yield)

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