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I can't believe a month at the World Cup is about o come to a close on Sunday and I have to say the tournament has been about as good as...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (May 20th)

Two Masters tournaments have come and gone on the clay courts and that has left Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as the clear favourites to win in Roland Garros which begins at the end of this week.

They have both looked vulnerable at times and I am looking forward to the draw on Friday which will make it clearer as to who is likely to pick up the title in Paris, but the top two players in the World have certainly strengthened their positions at the top of the market for the French Open.

Serena Williams looked much stronger in Rome than when she was forced to withdraw from Madrid and I would expect her to remain a strong favourite to retain her title won at the French Open twelve months ago. If Williams brings her form into Roland Garros, it will be tough to prevent her winning the title, but over the last eighteen months we have seen her have one really poor match in the Grand Slams and suffer some surprising defeats that have prevented her sweeping all titles in front of her.

The absence of Victoria Azarenka hurts the women's draw, but the likes of Maria Sharapova, Na Li and perhaps losing French Open Finalist Sara Errani could have deep runs in the tournament and take advantage of any slip up from Williams.

Rome at least provided an upturn in fortunes for the picks after a pretty terrible time in Madrid and gives some momentum to move into this final week before the French Open. This week can be a dangerous one with most of the biggest names on the Tour having time to recover before the start of the second Grand Slam event of 2014, so there may be a few surprising results. However, most of the players taking part have very small real ambitions at the French Open and will likely put in a good shift to try and win a title.

I might not necessarily make picks for every day this week unless there is something that catches my eye, but hopefully we will see a positive week to take into the French Open whose main draw will be completed on Friday morning.

Carlos Berlocq - 1.5 games v Julien Benneteau: It was a strong week for Julien Benneteau who won the tournament in Bordeaux, albeit at the Challenger level, but that may also make him vulnerable early in the event in Nice.

Playing in front of the home support will inspire Benneteau, but he hasn't really performed on the clay courts in the last few seasons and may be a little fatigued from the events of last week. The win also came on the level below the main Tour and I think that is where Carlos Berlocq could take advantage.

The Argentinian has won a clay court title just three weeks ago in Oeiras, and even Berlocq's disappearance over the last two weeks might not be as big a concern in this match. Of the two, Berlocq is much more comfortable on the clay courts and he has won two titles at this level on the surface.

Berlocq might need three sets to come through, but I expect him to do that and cover this handicap.

Stefanie Voegele v Silvia Soler-Espinosa: Neither of these players have had a great season as they come into this match with identical 5-12 record in main Tour matches, although Silvia Soler-Espinosa has won a couple of matches in the qualifiers to boost the confidence.

That at least shows some form compared with what Stefanie Voegele has produced over the last three months, but the Swiss player has dominated the head to head with Soler-Espinosa.

Including in that is a win in Morocco last month, although I would have thought the clay courts would favour Soler-Espinosa more than Voegele. That hasn't been the case and I think Voegele has some sort of match up problem for the Spaniard to deal with and shouldn't be an underdog in this match.

Sloane Stephens - 2.5 games v Julia Goerges: Any time Sloane Stephens is playing in a smaller tournament where the attendance may not bring in the grandeur she loves, she can be guilty of perhaps not taking a match as seriously as she should.

Stephens has a ton of talent but her work ethic has to be questioned at times- how can a player that has made Quarter Finals in three of the four Slams yet to have made one Final in any Tour event is beyond me.

It hasn't been a good start to 2014 for a player that seemed to have made her breakthrough last season, but Stephens should have too much for Julia Goerges. This is a player that has struggled in the last couple of years and is now outside of the top 100 and her inconsistency is not helped by a poor mental attitude to constructing points outside of hitting the ball harder and harder.

There should be plenty of breaks of serve in this one with both players likely to have their moments, but I will back the American to come through 63, 46, 75.

Camila Giorgi + 3.5 games v Alize Cornet: Anyone who has seen this young Italian player on a tennis court will know that Camila Giorgi has a lot of talent that could lead her to the top of the women's game if it is handled correctly.

One issue is the stories that have accompanied Giorgi's rise on the Tour that came to a head earlier in the season and that has stunted her growth as far as I am concerned.

However, she should still have plenty in the locker to give Alize Cornet some real problems in this First Round match in Strasbourg, especially if their two matches earlier in the season are any indication. Giorgi has the power to really hurt the Frenchwoman's serve and I can see her powering her way to taking at least one of the sets in the match.

Whether Giorgi has enough to see off a hard working Cornet is another matter, especially during the periods when the shots are a little more erratic, but I think the games being given to the Italian could prove too much for Cornet to cover.

MY PICKS: Carlos Berlocq - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stefanie Voegele @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Sloane Stephens - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Camila Giorgi + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Rome Final14-8, + 9.20 Units (44 Units Staked, + 20.91% Yield)

Season 2014+ 31.64 Units (657 Units Staked, + 4.82% Yield)

Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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