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Friday, 23 May 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (May 23rd)

That was pretty much as awful a day as I have had in the whole season with players not getting over the line and winning matches despite taking first sets/serving for the match and it was an extremely disappointing Thursday.

Friday sees the tournaments reach the Semi Finals, but the biggest talking story in tennis will be the draw for the French Open that will take place in the morning before the Grand Slam begins on Sunday. I think the draw is probably as important as it has been at Roland Garros for a decade, especially on the men's side, as the top two players in the world may just be a little vulnerable if they have to go through some big tests to reach the Final.

I will have an outright preview of the French Open out this weekend before the tournament begins once I have had the chance to look through the draw that will be out by lunch time.

Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 games v Albert Montanes: Ernests Gulbis has dominated Albert Montanes since being beaten by the Spaniard at the French Open in 2007 and he is much more of a resilient competitor these days. Gulbis highlighted that in his Quarter Final win yesterday when he came from a break down in the final set to beat Dmitry Tursunov in a tie-break.

He seems in a much better place mentally these days and could be the player that de-thrones Montanes as the winner in Nice, even if the veteran showed a real fight to defend his title by coming from a set down to beat Leonardo Mayer on Thursday.

However, Montanes' serve is much more vulnerable against someone like Gulbis who can dominate behind his own serve and create pressure with 'easy' holds. That proved to be the case when these two players met in Barcelona in April on the clay courts and I can see Gulbis proving a little too good again for the veteran.

Gulbis came through a tight first set and then ran away with the match and he may do something similar on Friday.

Ivo Karlovic v Jiri Vesely: There is no doubt that the clay courts are not the favourite surface for Ivo Karlovic, but he has proven this week that he is capable of producing big results on the clay. I think he is being completely under-rated against the talented youngster Jiri Vesely who may struggle mentally with facing a server like Karlovic.

Older heads can stay in the match by accepting their inability to get a racquet on every Karlovic serve effectively, but a younger player may allow it to pressure him mentally and also struggle to cope with that facet of the game. Karlovic also earned a big win over Juan Monaco, a real clay courter, on Thursday so his confidence has to be high.

I don't doubt Jiri Vesely is feeling very good about his own game after dismissing Jurgen Melzer without a breaking a sweat in the Quarter Final. The Czech player is comfortable on the clay courts, but I still don't think he should be such a strong favourite to win this kind of match just yet in his career.

With that in mind, a small interest in Ivo Karlovic to win the match is my call.

Monica Puig v Madison Keys: There is a lot to like about Monica Puig's game from the heavy groundies to the fact that she can protect serve effectively and I think she proves a little too good for Madison Keys in this Semi Final.

Keys certainly has a bright future on the WTA Tour in my opinion, but I think she has yet to gain the consistency that is required to make sure her solid first serve is backed up by a decent second serve.

That is where I think this match will be won- I think Puig is going to win a higher percentage of second serve points and I think she is going to get a higher percentage of first serves in play and that looks like giving her the edge in this match where the slightest edge could make the whole difference.

Both players have enjoyed a successful week to this point, but I expect Monica Puig to be playing in the Final on Saturday.

MY PICKS: Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic @ 3.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Monica Puig @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-7, - 6.40 Units (22 Units Staked, - 29.01% Yield)

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