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It might not have been a very good week for the NFL Picks, but I have to say it is great to have Sunday evenings back reserved for the Leagu...
Monday, 29 September 2014
Tennis Picks 2014 (September 30th)
There are still a couple of big tournaments to be won in the remaining month of the regular season on the ATP Tour, but the main focus at this time is which eight players will qualify for the World Tour Finals in London in the second week of November. The updated Race standings show that Stan Wawrinka is very close to being the fourth player to book his place at the O2 Arena in six weeks time, although confirmation will only come about if he manages to reach the Final in Tokyo.
He is very close though, while both Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray picked up important points last week in their own bids. One player who hasn't been showing much form and looks ripe for falling out of the top eight positions is David Ferrer who was beaten in the First Round in Tokyo on Monday and the Spaniard has admitted his recent results have been disappointing.
Ferrer is currently 7th in the Race to London, but his early exit could mean the likes of Milos Raonic, Murray and Grigor Dimitrov move above him with solid runs ahead of the tournament in Shanghai. I think Ferrer is definitely very vulnerable to qualify as he hasn't shown much positive momentum since the French Open and I would be surprised if he did make it into the final eight positions.
The tournaments this week are full of quality names and that means the First Round matches have a number of intriguing contests, none more so than Rafa Nadal's return to the court against Richard Gasquet. That match is one of a number scheduled in Beijing where the WTA are also hosting a tournament, while Tokyo have also scheduled a number of First Round matches on Tuesday to really get their tournament going.
On another day, all three picks made on Monday would have come in as winners with Marin Cilic missing the chance to break serve on three occasions despite having 15-40 leads in those games. He did enough to secure a comfortable 63, 64 win over Yan Bai, but that match could have easily ended as wide as 62, 62 with a little more composure at break point for the US Open Champion.
Both Vasek Pospisil and Grigor Dimitrov did come through their First Round matches with the cover though so it made it a decent start to the week, but it would have been really nice to start with three straight winning picks.
Julien Benneteau - 3.5 games v Pablo Andujar: A big concern in backing Julien Benneteau in this First Round match from Beijing is that he is coming off a long week in Kuala Lumper where he fell just short in finally winning a title. It was the tenth time Benneteau has reached the Final of an ATP event, but he has finished Runner Up every time and has to pick himself for another tough week on the Tour.
Pablo Andujar also had a decent week as he reached the Quarter Final at the same event as Benneteau, but the latter is definitely the more comfortable on the hard courts. That is almost highlighted from their 2-2 head to head record with Benneteau's two victories coming on a hard court, while Andujar's two wins came on clay courts.
Neither player had a great Asian swing last season, nor did the final month of their season go to plan, while another alarm would be the fact that Benneteau reached the Final in Kuala Lumper in 2013 and was then beaten in the First Round here.
However, I think the Frenchman is the better player of the two competing in this match, especially on the faster surfaces, and I will back him to come through while covering this spread 64, 64.
Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 games v Fabio Fognini: Two players who could be described as 'mad as a brush' could provide some real entertainment to the fans in this late evening match in Beijing.
It is a bit of a risky play backing Ernests Gulbis, a player that has struggled to really get up to form after his exploits at the French Open, especially against someone like Fabio Fognini who can be as brilliant one day as he is poor the next.
Gulbis has found a way to control his emotions better than the Italian in their recent meetings, and his extra power behind the serve may just be the reason that he is able to do that. Those cheaper points can be all important as it relieves the frustration, something Fognini can't really rely upon.
The most reliable aspect of this match may be that it needs three sets to separate them, but I will back Gulbis to move through with a 62, 46, 75 win.
Flavia Pennetta v Carla Suarez Navarro: Flavia Pennetta hasn't played a lot of tennis since reaching the US Open Quarter Final with her early defeat in Wuhan last week, but she has won a match here in Beijing and I think she can back that up.
Carla Suarez Navarro has played some solid tennis over the last few months and is comfortable on the hard courts despite some of the preconceptions of Spanish players.
There should be a few breaks of serve, but Pennetta has the heavier shots that should help prove the difference in this match. The Italian can outlast Suarez Navarro in this one and I can understand why she leads the head to head 3-1.
This is another match that could easily go three sets before a winner is decided, but I will back Flavia Pennetta to be that player.
MY PICKS: Julien Benneteau - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Flavia Pennetta @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Weekly Update: 2-1, + 1.66 Units (6 Units Staked, + 27.67% Yield)
Season 2014: + 28.52Units (1433.5 Units Staked, + 1.99% 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