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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 12th)

We have almost reached the business end of the tennis tournaments this week and I finally believe there are some picks worth backing after taking a cautious approach to earlier in the week. I just hope that cautious approach pays dividends at the end of the week.

Tomas Berdych - 5.5 games v Andreas Seppi: It has been a strong start to the 2015 season for Andreas Seppi, but he has got an awful lot of tennis in his legs over the last couple of weeks and that may lead to a touch of fatigue. It won't help that he is coming up against an in-form Tomas Berdych who has won the last 5 matches between these pair either and I think the big Czech player could be tough to stop.

The last four wins for Berdych over Seppi have come fairly easily and he would have covered this number of games in three of those wins. As long as Berdych serves well, he should keep Seppi off-balance in this one and be able to dictate the tempo of the match.

The Seppi serve can be something of a hindrance at times, especially the second serve, and that is where Berdych can have success and force some break point chances in this one. He has to be clinical when those come along, but Berdych is solid enough off both wings to really keep the pressure on the Italian who may just be a little fatigued after reaching the Final in Zagreb last week.

Seppi had to come through a three set match in the First Round here against Robin Haase and I do think this will all play a part, especially if Berdych starts off as quickly as he did against Tobias Kamke.

Milos Raonic - 3.5 games v Simone Bolelli: Milos Raonic was not at his best in his First Round win over Andrey Kuznetsov, but he still came through comfortably enough- he will have to raise his game to another gear when he takes on Simone Bolelli who was a much more comfortable winner in the First Round and has once again become a feature on the main Tour.

For a long time it seemed Bolelli was going to be consigned to playing Challenger events with a once in a while foray onto the main Tour, but the Italian has improved over the last few months and can be dangerous on the indoor hard courts. Bolelli has a decent serve which can see him holding serve fairly comfortably, although he is never far away from having a complete meltdown on serve and making too many errors to present a gift of a break.

Anything like that could be curtains for him if Raonic is serving as he was in the final two sets a couple of days ago. That will also mean scoreboard pressure on Bolelli who could be playing catch up in sets which may lead to other errors that can help Raonic take control of this match.

A first set tie-breaker wouldn't be a huge surprise, but Raonic could pull away if he takes that and come through 76, 63.

Carlos Berlocq - 1.5 games v Santiago Giraldo: Carlos Berlocq has won the last four matches against Santiago Giraldo and he has the game to irritate and extract errors from the Colombian and work his way through to the Quarter Final in Sao Paulo.

Berlocq saves his best tennis for the hard courts these days and it has to be said that he hasn't played Giraldo for eighteen months, but I am still surprised that he has won three of the last four against this opponent on a hard court. The other did come on the red dirt, and they have all been fairly tough matches.

That is less of a surprise to me considering the hit or miss nature of the way Giraldo plays- he is a very aggressive player that likes to stay on the attack, but there are times when he is just an error-making machine that sees games quickly get past him. Berlocq is the kind of opponent that will thrive on that, even if it means losing a few service games when Giraldo is 'hot' and getting enough balls in play can eventually wear down the Colombian from a mental standpoint.

This match may need three sets to separate them again, but I think Berlocq continues his dominance of the head to head and works his way through.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Dusan Lajovic: Fernando Verdasco will have been disappointed with his Semi Final defeat at the hands of Feliciano Lopez last week in Quito, but he remains in the mood to make up for it if his First Round win here is anything to go by. He might get a few pointers from his friend Lopez in how to deal with Dusan Lajovic after the Croatian almost beat Lopez earlier in the draw last week before falling apart.

Verdasco, despite the loss last week, is the better clay court player of the two Spaniards and he will be expected to beat Lajovic in this Second Round match, although that will all depend on how he is feeling. There are times when Verdasco throws in some really sloppy performances these days and his serving can be erratic despite a pretty big first serve and being able to back that up with a very heavy forehand.

He can't under-estimate Lajovic who enjoys playing on the clay courts and who reached the Fourth Round at the French Open last season before finding Rafael Nadal too strong, which is really no disgrace. However, the last few months has seen the Croatian do a lot of losing on the court and that has to have an affect on his performances and is an area where Verdasco can take control.

As long as Verdasco brings his better game to the court, he should come through in a fairly routine 63, 64 win.

Martin Klizan - 3.5 games v Joao Souza: Martin Klizan didn't exactly endear himself to the locals in his win over Thomaz Bellucci and he can expect the vocal support for his opponent in this Second Round match, another of the Brazilian hopes. Joao Souza is not in the same league as someone like Klizan, but he could be inspired by his home support, even if he has not made the Quarter Final 8 previous visits to Sao Paulo.

Souza is a big man which means his serve can be effective, although his movement is not the best and mentally he can be worn down by the better plays. All of that should normally apply to Martin Klizan even if the Slovakian is the epitome of an inconsistent player that can be hard to read at the best of times.

Ask Rafael Nadal- Klizan has a decent game that should make him a dangerous player on the Tour, but I am not convinced he has it all going in between the ears where it is as important at this level as your actuals skill with a racquet. He can make some silly errors and also get down on himself which will give Souza a chance, although I am still expecting the higher Ranked player to move into the Quarter Final.

I just think it will be tough for Souza to win this match if Klizan isn't gift-wrapping it for him and that the Brazilian has shown he finds it tough to maintain the level to compete with the top end of the Tour. If Klizan can hang early on, he can come through this match with a 64, 63 win and move into his second Quarter Final of 2015.

Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 games v Annika Beck: Karolina Pliskova has made a considerable leap up the World Rankings over the last twelve months as she has backed up her impressive first serve and I expect that shot to be a main reason she is able to overcome Annika Beck in this Second Round match.

I do respect the way Beck seems to show a lot of fight in her matches, but her second serve is a real liability and prevented her achieving consistent results in my opinion. I would expect Pliskova to dominate off that shot and able to really dictate the match on her racquet, although Beck has the defensive skills to frustrate opponents.

However, the indoor hard court conditions should favour her aggressive game against the defence of Beck and that should aid Pliskova to come through this match in fairly routine fashion. Beck was an easy winner in the First Round and has pushed Simona Halep to three sets earlier this season so could be a force to be reckoned with, but I just think Pliskova's level is a little a too high at the moment and she will be able to punish the Beck serve.

I am expecting breaks of serve in this one but also think Pliskova eventually prevails 64, 64.

Mona Barthel + 4.5 games v Eugenie Bouchard: On first glance, this looks like a lot of games for Eugenie Bouchard to be giving up, especially as she hasn't played since the Australian Open. Last season, Bouchard was beaten in three matches following Grand Slam lay offs and was also pushed to three sets by Mona Barthel in the fourth of those matches and this has the feel of another tight match.

Barthel has perhaps stagnated over the last couple of seasons after being seen as a breakthrough star on the WTA circuit, but she has the game to cause Bouchard all sorts of problems if the Canadian is a little rusty.

It has seen Bouchard make a lot of errors when she isn't quite up to speed with the courts and Barthel will have every chance of stealing a set which makes this number of games look very appealing. Of course, Bouchard can also put together some unplayable tennis which makes her dangerous, as she can reel off a lot of games in succession, but having not played for a couple of weeks could be a real factor in this one.

I do think Bouchard wins the match, I just don't believe it will be as straight-forward as the layers do and taking the games looks a sound move with the expectation that Barthel is going to have enough in the locker to push the Canadian in this Second Round match.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Carlos Berlocq - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Martin Klizan - 3.5 Games @ 1.88 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Mona Barthel + 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-2, + 0.90 Units (10 Units Staked, + 9% Yield)

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