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Friday, 24 October 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (October 24th)

We have reached the Quarter Finals of the two ATP tournaments that are being played this week and it looks like Grigor Dimitrov is going to become the latest player to fall out of contention in the Race to London.

That is nothing against Dimitrov who is still involved, but the likes of Milos Raonic, David Ferrer and Andy Murray have enough points in hand and haven't been knocked out this week which suggests the Bulgarian will need a lot to go in his favour for him to make the Tour Finals. He'll probably prefer to finish outside the top 10 so he can have a break and not go to London as an alternate too and that might be the situation he finds himself in with just one tournament to go after this one.

Of course, Dimitrov can win the the title this week and next week in Paris to prove me wrong, but I think that is increasingly unlikely and I believe both Murray and Ferrer are playing well enough to stay in front of a player that will be looking to play in the Tour Finals for years to come.

We will also determine the final four of the WTA Finals and it has highlighted why the Round Robin format was not used for too long on the ATP Tour- a few years ago some of the smaller tournaments attempted to begin their event with Groups, but it makes it much more likely that players will tank matches and I think the final round of matches in the WTA Finals look a little dangerous for that to happen.

A couple of years ago Victoria Azarenka was criticised for not trying in a dead rubber and a couple of players on Friday may actually benefit from losing a match.

Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 games v Benjamin Becker: I backed Kenny De Schepper to keep it close against Ivo Karlovic on Thursday and I think I would have been very much on the right lines if he had taken his only break point opportunity in the first set.

However, Karlovic was comfortably the best player on the court and he fully deserved his win and I do think he has every chance of backing that up with another win on Friday in this Quarter Final.

Karlovic has lost the most recent match against Benjamin Becker, but he had previously won 6 in a row against the German and I have to say I have been impressed that the big serving Croatian has found as many breaks of serve as he has in recent weeks.

Scoreboard pressure may play a part in that and I think that could be the case in this Quarter Final as Karlovic moves through with a 76, 64 win.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Borna Coric: Borna Coric has taken advantage of his Wild Card to reach a Quarter Final in Basel as he has recorded two impressive wins over players ranked much higher than he is.

The Croatian will be confident, but will now be facing a huge challenge in Rafael Nadal who has dismissed his first two opponents while giving up just 6 games. You can't really tell how healthy Nadal is feeling with Simone Bolelli and Pierre-Hugues Herbert very much out of his league, but it also suggests Coric will have a tough afternoon.

A lack of knowledge about Coric may give the youngster a chance to surprise a little, but Nadal plays every point so hard that he is likely to wear down his opponent and it might be a bit of a tennis lesson for the young player.

Nadal has been brutally efficient so far this week and I think he will prove too good in a 64, 62 win.

Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: Jeremy Chardy made it hard work for my pick on him to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov as he took the break advantage in all three sets played, but had to come from one set down to win the match.

It was a solid win for the Frenchman, but I am hoping he didn't leave everything out on the court ahead of this Quarter Final against one of the Spanish contingent left in the tournament in Valencia.

Pablo Carreno Busta has had a couple of surprising wins already this week and it would be something of a surprise if he can put together another solid performance on a surface that isn't the best for his game. He did reach the Quarter Final here in Valencia last season and the feeling is that Chardy's first serve is the more effective weapon and could determine the outcome of the match.

The first set could be another tight one, but I expect Chardy to put his stamp on the match eventually and come through with a 76, 63 win.

Petra Kvitova - 1.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: Regardless of what happens in the first match in this Group, Caroline Wozniacki is in a strong position to qualify for the Semi Finals after winning her first two matches in straight sets.

In fact, unless Wozniacki's friend Agnieszka Radwanska wins in straight sets against Maria Sharapova, she will definitely be through to the Semi Final regardless of her result in this match and I am not sure where she will find the motivation to really push for the win.

Winning the Group might not be the best decision as there is a strong chance that player will have to face Serena Williams who will finish second in the Red Group in three out of four possible outcomes of the Simona Halep-Ana Ivanovic match. A straight sets win for Petra Kvitova would mean Wozniacki is second in the White Group unless the aforementioned scenario where Radwanska beats Sharapova in straight sets occurs.

Kvitova played well enough against Sharapova to think she would give a strong account of herself even if Wozniacki was fully motivated, but this seems a good chance to back the Wimbledon Champion in a match where her opponent might already be looking to conserve energy for the business end of the tournament.

Ana Ivanovic v Simona Halep: I mentioned that Serena Williams will go through in three out of four possible outcomes from this match with the one exception being a straight sets win for Ana Ivanovic against the in-form Simona Halep.

That form and momentum is very high for the Romanian and it is going to be interesting to see how she approaches this match as she will know exactly who she can play in the next round by finishing first or second in the Group. An easy straight sets win for Ivanovic will give the Serb top spot in the Red Group, while anything competitive will give Halep the edge and she is in the fortunate position of determining that depending on how much she puts into this match.

I hate to think of sports stars as machines- there is little doubt to me that Halep losing this match in straight sets is the best thing for her if she wants to win this tournament. She has nothing to prove by beating Serena Williams in the Final, but everything to lose to give the American a 'second shot' at her later in the event.

I don't think Halep will come out 'wanting' to lose, but I'd be surprised if there is a huge effort to fight in the match with a Semi Final to come on Saturday and her position at the top of the Group virtually secured. My concern would be that Halep wants to stay mentally competitive and wins a set, which eliminates Ivanovic even if she wins in three sets, and that might see the Serb decide to check out of the match.

MY PICKS: Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.14 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-10, - 7.82 Units (32 Units Staked, - 24.43% Yield)

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