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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (October 23rd)

If someone had told me that the match had finished 60, 62, there would have been absolutely no way I would have believed that Simona Halep was the victor over Serena Williams- I even had to look at the score twice again to make sure I wasn't reading it wrong as the World Number 1 was given one of her biggest beatings on a tennis court.

That result hasn't ended Williams' participation at the WTA Finals, but it does mean she needs to beat Eugenie Bouchard, preferably in straight sets, and hope Simona Halep can give Ana Ivanovic either a competitive match that goes into three sets or the Romanian can simply win the match and the Group.

With the Race to London taking centre stage on the ATP Tour, Tomas Berdych was the only player that has yet to secure his place in the Tour Finals that was beaten in competition which could have opened the door for the likes of Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov to make up some points on him if not overtake him.

With Rafael Nadal looking pretty good in Basel and Novak Djokovic admitting he is preparing for Paris after his wife gave birth to a baby boy, the top eight players may be ready to take their place in London after all. That means every point is going to matter in the bid to sow up those places with just two weeks to go until we know the final line up in London for the event which will begin on November 9th.

Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: The winner of this match will likely have booked their place in the Semi Final of the WTA Finals and I think the Dane Caroline Wozniacki is going to have a little bit too much for Agnieszka Radwanska.

Of course one of the concerns is that Wozniacki had to dig really deep within herself to beat Maria Sharapova just two days ago and it would be interesting to see if she has left something on the court.

Agnieszka Radwanska had a much easier time in her win over Petra Kvitova, which was something of a surprise considering Radwanska's late season form.

Both players produce a similar style of tennis which should make this another competitive match, but I think Wozniacki is able to back up her win over Radwanska from the Cincinnati event, their only match of the year. That ended Wozniacki's three match losing run in the head to head and I think Wozniacki has the slightly better serve which could prove to be a difference maker.

I won't be that surprised if we did see a final set decider for the first time this week, but Wozniacki might just have the edge to come through with a 75, 46, 63 win.

Jeremy Chardy v Alexandr Dolgopolov: This Second Round match comes between two players who will be meeting for the fourth time this season as Alexandr Dolgopolov looks to level the head to head with Jeremy Chardy having won the last match between them.

Chardy is a player that can frustrate me as he can make a rash of errors to lose matches comprehensively, but I am surprised he has been set as the underdog in this match. It seems to be an overreaction to Dolgopolov's dismantling of Gilles Simon in the First Round, especially as that was his first win since coming back from surgery.

The indoor hard courts should really aid both of these players you would feel as they have decent first serves, but neither Chardy nor Dolgopolov have had a sustained success on the surface.

The Frenchman has been in better form of the two players of late with more wins to his name and I am interested to see how Dolgopolov will try to back up his first win in months with another match so soon after that one. I wouldn't be surprised to see this go the distance with both players sometimes very erratic on the court, but I think the underdog can come through with a win.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Thomaz Bellucci: Coming through the qualifiers and winning a match on the main draw should have given Thomaz Bellucci some confidence ahead of this Second Round match against Roberto Bautista Agut and may also have eased a couple of my concerns in backing the Spaniard.

Bautista Agut was the far better player when seeing off Santiago Giraldo on Wednesday, but he had a long week in Moscow last week that saw him come a little short when losing in the Final. However, he had a couple of days to recover and Bellucci has played more tennis in the last few days than Bautista Agut so tiredness may affect the Brazilian more in this match.

The lefty serve will take some reading for Bautista Agut, but he can frustrate opponents with his defence as he did to Giraldo and I can see the same fate eventually befalling Bellucci. There are times I have watched Bellucci and been impressed with the talent he possesses, but Bautista Agut is having a great season and he looks like a man determined to end 2014 in the right way.

If Bautista Agut is protecting his serve as well as he did on Wednesday, he could wear down Bellucci in this one and eventually come through 75, 64.

Kenny De Schepper + 2.5 games v Ivo Karlovic: This isn't a lot of games to take to the bank, but Kenny De Schepper has a big enough serve to force a couple of tie-breaks even if he doesn't quite have enough to see off Ivo Karlovic. The veteran Karlovic has been playing well in recent weeks and has had a big 2014 season to move back into the top 32 in the World Rankings, but he doesn't get a lot of joy when it comes to return games and is still heavily reliant on his own big serve.

This match is likely to have a lot of quick games with both players much more effective when having the first strike of their serve and I think break points will come at a premium. It might take just one break for Karlovic for him to cover this number, but the opposite view is that one break for De Schepper may make it almost impossible for Karlovic to do that.

When they met a couple of years ago, it was no surprise that Karlovic needed two tie-breakers to win the match and De Schepper will have some confidence having won a couple of qualifiers to reach this Second Round match.

I'll be looking for De Schepper to use that confidence to keep this match very close and will take the games on offer.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Denis Istomin: The lure of finishing with the year end World Number 1 position is keeping Roger Federer focused for the final three weeks of the Tour ahead of his first appearance in the Davis Cup Final.

He was brutal in dismissing Gilles Muller in the First Round in Basel, but Denis Istomin showed twelve months ago that he can be a decent indoor hard court player when pushing Federer in a three set loss.

That was about as tough as Istomin has ever made it for Federer and my criticism of the Uzbekistan player is that he doesn't seem to give himself a real shot of beating the top players on the Tour. I am not convinced he believes he can win these kinds of matches and I think making it as competitive as last season would constitute a success for him.

I think Federer is playing better than he was twelve months ago and I don't think this match will go the distance although it would be less surprising if the score from the last two sets is repeated again.

Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: A late bid for a place in the World Tour Finals means Grigor Dimitrov has played a lot of tennis in the last month and I am not sure if that contributed to some of his problems in the First Round against Alexander Zverev.

A bigger issue may have been a lack of familiarity with Zverev's game that allowed his opponent to dominate the first set before Dimitrov dug deep within himself to turn the match around and keep his hopes of reaching London alive.

Vasek Pospisil is less of a mystery and I think that will help Dimitrov in this Second Round match and I do think the layers have made a mistake with this spread. I figured it would be at least one game higher, while I never expected this to be at odds against.

Pospisil does have a serve that should work wonders on the indoor hard courts, and that showed up when he reached the Semi Final here last season. However, he found Roger Federer a little too good in that match and Grigor Dimitrov might be better placed after his First Round scare.

We will likely see at least one tie-breaker, but I think Dimitrov has an effective enough return to find a break or two which can help him cover the number.

MY PICKS: Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy @ 2.30 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kenny De Schepper + 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-8, - 10.66 Units (22 Units Staked, - 48.45% Yield)

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