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Friday, 23 January 2015

Australian Open Day 6 Picks 2015 (January 24th)

Where else can you begin at the Australian Open than with the exit of Roger Federer in the Third Round? After an under-par performance against Simone Bolelli, especially early in that Second Round match, most would have expected Federer to come out and dominate against Andreas Seppi, the Italian he had beaten ten times in a row and had only dropped one set against.

It was another slow start from Federer to drop the first set, but it looked to be a momentum turner when he recovered a break of serve not once, but twice in the second set. The second break of serve had been handed to Seppi when Federer inexplicably left a ball that he could have comfortably smashed for a winner which subsequently caught the sideline to give Seppi the 5-4 advantage.

Once that set went into a tie-breaker, you would have had to feel Federer was the more likely winner, but his serve was off for much of the day and another unforced error cost him that set and ultimately was going to cost him the match.

There was signs of life in a third set captured by the former World Number 1, but Seppi sealed the match in another tie-breaker which was capped off by the most stunning of winners.

This is going to lead to more questions about Federer and whether he has another Grand Slam in him, although I ruled that out last season when you could see he didn't quite have enough to live with the best players over a best of five set match. I still think Federer is a threat at every Masters event that isn't played on the clay courts and the right draw at Wimbledon could see him get very close to an 18th Grand Slam title if he is going to achieve that anywhere.

I just also think there will be a few more days like Thursday when Federer would formerly have dismissed challengers who are now able to perhaps sense an upset if they can make the match competitive early. Federer still has a lot to offer the Tour, but winning seven best of five set matches may not be there any more.

The Federer story will have dominated the headlines at the Australian Open after the likes of Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal all won in dominating fashion to move into the second week of the tournament. Grigor Dimitrov played arguably one of his worst matches over the last twelve months, but still had enough to see off Marcos Baghdatis, while another impressive winner was Tomas Berdych who dominated Victor Troicki in a straight sets win.

With the way the results have been coming through, the Australian Open looks to have a very good second week lined up for the fans. Most will already be anticipating the Grigor Dimitrov-Andy Murray Fourth Round match, while Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic will ensure some lively atmospheres as the home crowd finally have some new blood to back.

The Fourth Round line up will be completed on Saturday and the first Grand Slam of the 2015 season is certainly laying down a very strong marker for the standard we may expect to see.

It was the first losing day of the tournament for the picks as some bad luck mixed with some bad picks resulted in a poor day in the office. However, I am still happy with the way the first week has gone (as long as it is wrapped up nicely on Day 6)  and the outright picks are all still alive despite a huge number of Seeds dropping from both draws.

The exit of Roger Federer does open up the bottom half of the draw for someone like Rafael Nadal, although the likes of Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov will believe the winner of that match can go all the way to the Final. Novak Djokovic will get his first test of the tournament on Saturday against Fernando Verdasco, while Simona Halep has eased her way through to the Fourth Round.

Hopefully Petra Kvitova can make it four for four from the outright picks that are still running when the second week of the Australian Open gets going on Sunday.

Stan Wawrinka - 7.5 games v Jarkko Nieminen: There are some concerns about a potential problem with the Stan Wawrinka elbow, but he has had a chance to rest it with this Third Round match in mind and I think the match up is a potential good one for him.

I respect what Jarkko Nieminen has done in his career as he has given some of the best players some real problems on the court, but age is catching up with him and the serve is still something of a liability, especially the second serve.

The Finn will be able to cause some problems on the Wawrinka serve, while being left-handed gives Nieminen another advantage, but the defending Champion won't be easily rattled and I think he will be able to dominate enough of the points to record a 75, 63, 63 win.

Kei Nishikori - 6.5 games v Steve Johnson: Kei Nishikori had to dig deep to see off Ivan Dodig in the Second Round and his experiences at the US Open should stand him in good stead in what is the nearest thing to a home Grand Slam for the Japanese star.

Dodig is a come forward attacking player that is problematic if a player is not on form, but Steve Johnson should play a match that is much more balanced and allows Nishikori to get into rhythm.

There will be times that Nishikori will be under pressure on his own serve, but his return game should also produce chances on the Johnson serve and that may eventually wear down the American. Johnson served well in his loss to Nishikori earlier in the season, but the courts here are playing slow enough for Nishikori to create more opportunities and I like him to win this one 63, 64, 64.

David Ferrer win 3-1 v Gilles Simon: David Ferrer and Gilles Simon will both look back at their careers and see some similarities in their style of play as well as the fact that both have probably overachieved with the talent they have been given.

This match should feature a lot of long rallies as neither player has the dominant serve that sets up a lot of easy points, while breaks of serve could also be common because of that issue.

It is a repeat of a match from the US Open that Simon won in four sets and the Frenchman has won their only 2 outdoor hard court matches which will give him the mental belief that he can win this match too.

I expect it to be tight and a few points here and there will make all the difference in deciding who wins and loses, but I think Ferrer can outwork Simon this time as he was not himself at Flushing Meadows last September. However, this is unlikely to be a straight sets win and I like Ferrer coming through 64, 46, 76, 63.

Venus Williams - 3.5 games v Camila Giorgi: The Italian Camila Giorgi has made an impact in a few Grand Slam tournaments over the last eighteen months and has already beaten one of the Seeded players in this Australian Open draw.

However, beating Venus Williams, who is playing with the swagger and belief of a few seasons ago, is a completely different task and I think Giorgi is up against it when facing the Auckland Champion.

Giorgi is a little hit and miss on the tennis court, but she is going to be faced with some dominating power on the other side of the court and may be rushed into making mistakes. Williams will have to serve well to make sure she remains in control of the match, but her ability to get up to the net and put away volleys gives her the edge in this match.

I also think Giorgi is a player that has struggled with her consistency and may just find Venus Williams a step too high at this moment and I like the veteran American to come through 75, 63.

Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Elina Svitolina: I don't think it is missing the point by saying that Serena Williams has not been at her best so far at the Australian Open and that someone like Elina Svitolina definitely has the tools to make this a very competitive Third Round match for the American.

However, Svitolina is still someone that can struggle against the very best players on the Tour and Serena Williams remains amongst that elite group on the WTA Tour.

Svitolina had to really dig deep to beat Nicole Gibbs in the last Round and this is also a player that has been beaten by Maria Sharapova convincingly earlier this season. Some may argue that Sharapova is in far better form than Serena Williams, but the latter has already secured two bagels in the tournament and I think she can go up a gear or two when she needs to which should help her pull away in this match too.

When it is all said and done, I do expect Williams to record a 64, 61 win and move through to the second week without really being tested for a full match.

Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 games v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova: Over the last nine months or so, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova has continuously shown she belongs at this stage of Grand Slam tournaments and is a threat to go even further. She reached the Semi Final at Wimbledon which would have given the Czech player a lot of confidence in her game, but this is a very tough match up for her.

Victoria Azarenka loves playing at Melbourne Park and she has already come through two tough matches against Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki without dropping a set and that should have her battle hardened for this match.

She also dismissed Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets here last season and Azarenka looks a player perfectly at peace with what she wants to achieve in the 2015 season. There is a real stubborn streak in the former Champion here and I think Azarenka is ready to make a concerted challenge here with those two wins under her belt.

Azarenka has the strut back in her stride which should help her come through this tough match and I like her to eventually prevail 63, 63.

CoCo Vandeweghe - 2.5 games v Madison Brengle: CoCo Vandeweghe was so impressive in her Second Round win over Sam Stosur that I think it will have given her enough confidence to beat her compatriot Madison Brengle in this Third Round match.

Brengle has played well in her first two matches here, but she is coming in off a long week in Hobart when she fell short against Heather Watson in the Final and you have to think that all that tennis will eventually also have an impact on her game.

It has been a very good start to the 2015 season for Brengle, but the younger American has really begun to string together some consistency in her game. Vandeweghe can use her power to try and dominate Brengle in this match and she has won the last two matches against Brengle without dropping a set.

As long as there isn't a negative reaction to beating a home favourite, Vendeweghe comes through 64, 64 for me.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Ferrer win 3-1 @ 4.00 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Venus Williams - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
CoCo Vandeweghe - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 19-13, + 8.04 Units (64 Units Staked, + 12.56% Yield)


  1. great blog. I love the writeups. thanks

  2. Appreciate the comments mate, hope the second week is as productive as the first