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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (September 23rd)

This is the first week of the Asian swing for the ATP players, while the WTA Tour has already been through a couple of tournaments.

There are plenty of big names on the WTA Tour that are in action, although the big news was the retirement of Na Li due to the host of injuries she has been suffering. It is a real shame she couldn't play a couple of tournaments in a part of the world where she has made a huge impact thanks to becoming a two time Grand Slam, but her health is far more important and Li will enjoy a retirement thanks to her large earnings over the last few years.

To be perfectly honest, the WTA Tour has begun producing players to fill the void that Li will leave behind, even if Serena Williams remains the best player. Younger players are beginning to make their moves and some of those will look to keep their names in high regard moving into the 2015 season by finishing this year spectacularly.

The ATP Tour has less of the big names involved as the majority of those will return next week, including Rafael Nadal who has stated that he will return for four tournaments to end the season. I wasn't sure if Nadal would play with his wrist injury, but it clearly is an ambition of the Spaniard despite the Tour moving onto a part of the year where he has rarely produced his best tennis.

Kei Nishikori, David Ferrer and Andy Murray are the biggest names in action this week as they all look to improve their chances of qualifying for the World Tour Finals in what looks like being a tight battle for the top eight places. With three of those places already taken and Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic close to booking their London spots, players could be competing for just three places over the last six weeks of the season.

That should produce an interesting final few weeks of the Tour for the fans, even if the likes of Murray claim reaching London isn't a major goal of his, and we may even see a few players highlight their credentials for 2015 with confidence producing wins to end 2014.

Caroline Wozniacki - 5.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: These two players met in Tokyo last week and Caroline Wozniacki came away with a 63, 63 win and I can see her matching a similar margin of victory as long as she can serve slightly better.

It has been a very strong couple of months for Wozniacki who fell a little short in the US Open Final to open her Grand Slam account and there has been little to suggest she is off the boil during this Asian swing.

I hate underestimating Carla Suarez Navarro, but she is a top 20 player that has generally found the best players to tough to overcome. Her win over Maria Sharapova is an exception to her last twelve months when it is a rare occasion that Suarez Navarro beats a players she isn't expected to.

The Spaniard's serve is not the best and that is usually feasted on by the best players on the Tour and I can see Wozniacki having a little too much class for her in this match. There should be breaks of serve before the Dane comes through 64, 62.

Angelique Kerber - 5.5 games v Zarina Diyas: I find Angelique Kerber one of the more frustrating players on the WTA Tour who sometimes shows flashes of being a top player, but can then go through phases of struggling to find the court.

Kerber relies on her athleticism around the court and can sometimes be guilty of offering her opponent too much of an opportunity to dictate rallies which can be tough to overcome.

I sense this isn't the kind of match that will follow that pattern and Kerber should be able to get the better of Zarina Diyas despite the strong showing the latter has put through 2014. However, Diyas has a serve that can be punished by the better players and she is still in the midst of improving as she moved into the World top 40 in the Rankings.

However, I think she is still having a difficult time maintaining the consistency that the better players demand on the Tour and I will look for Kerber to come through 63, 63.

Petra Kvitova - 5.5 games v Karin Knapp: Karin Knapp does have a big game, but her biggest issue is transferring that to a level of consistency that can see her compete on the Tour with positive results.

The Italian has been in good form over the last month since the end of the US Open, but this is a rare occasion where Knapp will be facing an increase of power on the other side of the court from Petra Kvitova.

One concern would be that this is Kvitova's first match since her surprise early exit at the US Open and she could be undercooked against an opponent that has won a title and 8 of her last 9 matches including a couple of qualifiers to get into the main draw here.

However, I do think Kvitova has the power to put Knapp under pressure in the match and that should see her eventually pull away from her opponent. Kvitova won the title in Tokyo last season in her return to the Tour following the US Open, so is clearly a player that can regain her form and I like her to find a 75. 62 win.

Marinko Matosevic v Nick Kyrgios: Most people should be aware that Nick Kyrgios has admitted this will be his last tournament of the season because he is 'mentally and physically exhausted' from his first full year on the Tour.

It has been a very good year for the young Australian and I would doubt he would be playing this week if his mother wasn't of Malaysian background with this tournament taking place in Kuala Lumper. Once he committed to it, Kyrgios probably felt he had to play this week, but I am wondering how much he is going to have left to put into the event.

The indoor hard courts should play to Kyrgios's strength with that booming serve and heavy groundstrokes, but Marinko Matosevic is no slouch in those areas himself. The difference is that Matosevic can sometimes lose his head and play some brainless tennis that sees him give away breaks of serve.

It is the reason I will keep this pick to a minimum level as I don't trust Matosevic fully to stay mentally focused, but Kyrgios' own mindset has to be a worry coming into this event. With that in mind, Matosevic has to be worth a small interest at odds against to surprise his compatriot who could will be getting ready for a big 2015 starting with his home Grand Slam.

MY PICKS: Caroline Wozniacki - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 5.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marinko Matosevic @ 2.45 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Season 2014+ 30.38 Units (1387.5 Units Staked, + 2.19% 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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