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Monday, 16 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 16th)

Heather Watson - 2.5 games v Kateryna Kozlova: There are plenty of matches scheduled for the tournament in Dubai on Monday as they complete the First Round and begin Second Round matches there. Despite the host of options, I have narrowed it down to two picks from the tournament on Monday.

The first of those is backing the British Number 1 Heather Watson to make a successful return to the WTA Tour after being absent since the Australian Open. It has been a good start to the 2015 season for Watson with a title won in Hobart and I think she will be a little too consistent for Kateryna Kozlova despite the impressive wins the Ukrainian has put together in the qualifiers to make the main draw.

Kozlova is younger of the two players, but she is yet to really make a breakthrough on the Tour and Watson did beat her at the French Open last season which should give her confidence to do the same in the First Round here. Of course being off the Tour makes it difficult for us to know what kind of form Watson is in compared to someone who is well accustomed to the conditions here, but this does look the kind of match where Watson's ability to get a lot of balls back in play aids her in the victory.

As long as Watson can do that, she might end up extracting errors from the Kozlova game and eventually pull away, although this going three sets won't be a surprise.

Mona Barthel - 2.5 games v Daniela Hantuchova: I have always been something of a Daniela Hantuchova fan so I was happy to see her win a title last week in Pattaya City- I say last week, but the actual Final was only played on Sunday and she won't have a lot of time to get used to the feel of the courts in Dubai.

That might play into the hands of Mona Barthel who beat Eugenie Bouchard last week in Antwerp and who has shown signs of being ready to move up the Rankings. She can still be a little inconsistent in her performances, but the German is going to be playing a tired Hantuchova who had a long Semi Final and Final and needed to exert a lot of mental effort into those matches.

Of course winning a title gives players a boost in confidence too, but you have to take this into consideration- it is a 14 plus hour flight from Pattaya City to Dubai with a stop and that is going to be incredibly tough for Hantuchova to deal with and produce her best tennis on Monday.

As long as Barthel doesn't give the match away with unforced errors and losing her way, she should progress with a fairly routine straight sets win.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 games v Andreas Haider-Maurer: There are only six places between these players in the World Rankings, but I think Albert Ramos-Vinolas is considerably better on the clay courts thank Andreas Haider-Maurer and I would expect that to be reflected on the scoreboard at the end of the match.

Tennis is all about levels and Haider-Maurer is someone who spends a lot more time on the Challenger circuit than Ramos-Vinolas, while it is the Spaniard who came through in straight sets when these two met towards the end of last season.

Ramos-Vinolas has to serve well to make life easier for himself and he should get the better of Haider-Maurer in the extended rallies as he is comfortable from the back of the court. This is the time of the season when Ramos-Vinolas can really start moving up the Rankings and his experience of playing and winning matches on the main Tour on the clay courts should give him the edge.

There are times I have seen Andreas Haider-Maurer play some big time tennis, but the Austrian is never far away from losing his mind on the court and inexplicably going through a sequence of errors. I do expect Ramos-Vinolas to be the more 'solid' player in this one and come through 64, 64.

Thiemo de Bakker - 3.5 games v Guilherme Clezar: Last week, I was beaten up a little in Sao Paulo, especially by one of the home hopes, but I am hoping that won't be the case with this pick from the tournament being played in Rio de Janeiro. Guilherme Clezar has been outplayed on the main Tour and he has lost his last five matches in events in Sao Paulo and Rio and I do believe Thiemo de Bakker will be too much for him to handle.

Don't misunderstand me though- de Bakker is far from the level that many had tipped for him earlier in his career and the big Dutchman is somewhat scratching a living on the Tour at the moment. He is Ranked outside of the top 100, but he did come through qualifiers here and in Sao Paulo last week so that winning momentum could prove key for him.

De Bakker does have huge serve which should keep Clezar at bay in this one and I think the scoreboard pressure will eventually snap the Brazilian and his belief will subsequently wane away. As long as de Bakker controls his emotions and does not allow the home fans to get under his skin, his quality should shine through against an opponent who is Ranked outside of the top 200 in the World Rankings.

While he is known for the serve, de Bakker has actually been returning fairly effectively too and it is for that reason that I believe he can come through with a 76, 63 win in this one.

Dustin Brown + 2.5 games v Ivo Karlovic: The night session at Delray Beach pits together Ivo Karlovic and Dustin Brown in what looks like being a big-serving shoot out with plenty of volleys for those who preferred tennis twenty years ago.

Neither Karlovic or Brown will look to take a backward step as they are very happy to serve and volley being first and second serves and there is every chance this match is decided by a point or two. As you can tell, I am expecting a tight match where both men should have an easy time holding for the majority of times and it will come down to one or two major points that can turn the match.

Out of the two players, there is little doubt that Dustin Brown is the flashier player- he is capable of rolling off three or four winners in return games, although his Number 97 World Ranking should let you know that a lot of the times his erratic play won't come off. However, Brown has beaten Karlovic in both previous matches which should give him confidence he can do the same here and he hasn't been in bad form to start 2015.

Neither has Karlovic so this match looks to be one that is going to be extremely tight with tie-breakers perhaps required to decide the sets. That makes the 2.5 games head start being given to Dustin Brown look awfully attractive against a limited returner like Karlovic and 'Dreddy' can keep this close, if not win outright, in the Monday evening battle.

Madison Brengle - 3.5 games v Ana Bogdan: Madison Brengle has done a lot of winning to open the 2015 season and the American can continue her positive start to the season in this First Round match played in Rio de Janeiro. She comes up against a qualifier in Ana Bogdan and anyone who does put together a couple of wins to make the main draw will be a danger, but I do think Brengle will be just a little too good for her.

Bogdan did reach the Final in a lower level tournament in Glasgow earlier this month, but she has struggled to take her form onto the main Tour and now faces a very confident player who has also received a clean bill of health in the last few months.

The American had a cancer scare last year and was only given the go-ahead to travel to Australia a couple of weeks before the season began. She has since reached a career-high Ranking of 45 and it is clear that Brengle has used that scare in a positive manner to enjoy herself on the court, which has also brought success.

You would think she is going to be a little too battle-hardened for Bogdan in this one, although this is Brengle's first match on the clay courts since her failure to qualify for the French Open last May. However, confidence should be at an all-time high for Brengle and I like her to come through 63, 75.

MY PICKS: Heather Watson - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Mona Barthel - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Thiemo de Bakker - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Dustin Brown + 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Madison Brengle - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 0-1, - 2 Units (2 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

February 9-15 Daily Picks Final13-11, + 1.60 Units (48 Units Staked, + 3.33% Yield)

Season 2015+ 19.47 Units (201 Units Staked, + 9.69% Yield)

Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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