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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Australian Open Day 4 Picks 2015 (January 22nd)

There was some high drama on the third day of the Australian Open as both Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal had to dig deep within themselves to avoid being early casualties of a tournament that has seen a number of the Seeds already exit the event.

Maria Sharapova faced a couple of match points in her win over Alexandra Panova, while Rafael Nadal was 2-1 down in sets to Tim Smyczek before turning things around. Nadal had also been suffering from some dizzy spills and admitted he had been cramping up in the match, but he showed why he has won so many Grand Slam events and could really prove to be a turning point for him in the remaining ten days.


Roger Federer was another big name player who was behind in his match as he lost the first set to Simone Bolelli which culminated with him suffering from some type of bee sting. However, Federer's aggression turned the match around and he ended up being a comfortable winner, while Andy Murray is yet another former Grand Slam Champion in the bottom half of the draw and moved into the Third Round without any difficulties.


It has already been a fun tournament with a lot of the tension and drama that has been missed from some Grand Slams over the last twelve months, and I am very much looking forward to the remainder of this event.

The picks had another winning day on Wednesday and I can't be too disappointed by that considering some of the difficulties that players faced in the heat of Melbourne. All four outright picks are still running in the event, although only just in the case of Rafael Nadal, as the Second Round is completed on Thursday.


Feliciano Lopez v Adrian Mannarino: Two left-handed players meet in the Second Round and it is considered a pick 'em contest because of the form differing form that Feliciano Lopez and Adrian Mannarino have begun the 2015 season.

While Mannarino reached the Final in Auckland last week and was also a Semi Finalist in a Challenger tournament, Lopez was beaten early in the tournament he played in preparation for this match. Lopez was also pushed into a very long First Round match against Denis Kudla which he won 10-8 in the Fifth, while Mannarino was a comfortable straight sets winner.

However, I still think Lopez is the stronger player with more ability than his French opponent and I think he will dig deep enough to come through the match. Lopez does prefer the faster conditions more than the slower courts and the Australian Open aren't the quickest hard courts, but the Spaniard is aggressive and that can force mistakes from Mannarino if he is able to attack the net.

Mannarino has been getting more consistent results on the main Tour these days, but I still think Lopez comes through with his net play proving to be the difference.


Fernando Verdasco - 6.5 games v Go Soeda: Another left-handed Spaniard that I believe will come through his Second Round match is Fernando Verdasco and I think he will prove to be too good for Go Soeda.

Verdasco is no longer a threat to go deep in Grand Slam events consistently, but he still has the power and ability to beat players who are as limited as Soeda. The Japanese player came through a tough First Round match in five sets, but he won't find Verdasco has charitable in this Second Round match and the heavier shots will be coming from Verdasco's side of the court.

He can be a little more erratic these days, but Verdasco remains a player that could be amongst the lower Seeds when it comes to the Grand Slam tournaments. He should find a couple of breaks of serve in a single set and dominate much of the match and I think Verdasco beats Soeda fairly comfortably as long as he maintains concentration.

Soeda rarely plays in the main draw at the Grand Slams and his lack of real experience at this level can aid Verdasco in a 64, 62, 64 win.


Lleyton Hewitt v Benjamin Becker: Lleyton Hewitt came through a couple of wobbles in his First Round match to earn his place amongst the headlines in Australia which have been dominated by younger players coming through the Rankings. Hewitt has missed his chance to win the Australian Open, but he remains very popular with the locals and I think he can beat Benjamin Becker as the underdog on Thursday.

He can't under-estimate Becker though, especially as the German has previous in ending the hopes of a veteran in front of his home crowd. While he has never really reached the upper echelon of the men's game, Becker will always be remembered by me, and others, as the man that beat Andre Agassi at the US Open and ended the career of one of the most popular players of all time.

Becker won't be bothered by the home support in that regards, but Hewitt has the return game to extract errors from the other side of the court, especially against a player that can be a little erratic in his play. Hewitt has to serve better than he did at times in the First Round, but the veteran Aussie can move through to the Third Round from the first match in the night session with a gritty display that perhaps needs five sets to get the job done.


Venus Williams - 5.5 games v Lauren Davis: The veteran American takes on one of the younger players trying to break through from that nation and I think Venus Williams underlines the form that helped her beat Lauren Davis 60, 63 in Auckland on the way to the title there.

Venus Williams will have to serve well to keep Lauren Davis from making this a scrappy match and doing that will give her a great chance of winning this match fairly comfortably. If Williams can set up the short ball on serve and consistently remain on the front foot, it will be difficult for Davis to get too much joy on the return and also help ease the path through to the Third Round.

For all of the hard work and scrambling ability that Davis will offer, her own serve is something of a weakness against players that can produce as much power as Venus Williams. Second serves are going to be extremely tough to win and holding serve is going to be a challenge through this match.

As long as Williams brings her form into this match, she should be a 63, 63 winner.


Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Vera Zvonareva: If this match had taken place even a couple of years ago, Vera Zvonareva would definitely have had her supporters in her aim to upset the odds against Serena Williams.

That is especially the case because Serena Williams hasn't looked at the top of her form in the opening weeks of the 2015 season, but Zvonareva herself is fighting through tough times. Injury has restricted Zvonareva to trying to reach her previous highs and I am not sure she has enough in the tank to keep up with Williams in this one.

It is going to be tough graft for Zvonareva and she will have painful memories of the last time she shared a court with Williams when she was beaten while winning just one game. There will be times this match looks competitive because of the lack of form that Williams has displayed, but I still expect her to outwork Zvonareva and eventually break the Russian's heart in a 63, 61 win.


Dominika Cibulkova - 1.5 games v Tsvetana Pironkova: When these prices were first released, I was surprised that Dominika Cibulkova was as big a price as she was, but the money seems to have come in for the Australian Open Runner Up from twelve months ago. She has dominated the head to head with Tsvetana Pironkova and came through a tough First Round match against Kirsten Flipkens which should set her up for this match.

There is a lot of power that Cibulkova brings to the court and I think she has more belief in her own game than Pironkova, although the latter should get a lot of loud support from the local Bulgarian fans.

Pironkova did play well in Sydney in defence of the title she won last season, but she faltered in the Australian Open. This year she took advantage of the illness that Heather Watson was suffering thanks to 'girl things', but Cibulkova is not likely to be as unready to compete.

A battling first set can be followed by a more routine second and I like Cibulkova winning this 75, 63.


Petra Kvitova - 6.5 games v Mona Barthel: There are still times that Petra Kvitova either pushes too hard or she loses a touch of concentration that allows opponents to remain competitive in matches, but she has the look of confidence that will have come from the opening weeks of the 2015 season.

Kvitova has a title to her name and also a Semi Final and she has built up to the Australian Open in perfect fashion. She dismissed Mona Barthel for the loss of just two games at Wimbledon last season and, while this is going to be closer, I do think Kvitova is a comfortable Second Round winner too.

Barthel won a tough First Round match, but had previously lost her first two matches in the 2015 season, but the German can put together some big tennis which will cause problems for Kvitova.

However, the power is on Kvitova's side of the court and I think she is a more consistent player that will eventually break through with a 63, 62 win in this Second Round match and avoid the fate that has befallen some of the Seeds in the women's draw.

MY PICKS: Feliciano Lopez @ 1.90 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 6.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lleyton Hewitt @ 2.20 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 6.5 Games @ 1.93 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 14-7, + 11.18 Units (42 Units Staked, + 26.62% Yield)

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