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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 19th)

Wednesday proved to be a productive day for the picks with the tournament in Dubai providing a host of winners that has moved the week back into the positive after a very difficult start to this week. Sunday and Monday didn't go that well, but the last couple of days have been much better and hopefully I can finish this week with that trend helping me to another strong week to build on the season so far.

Lucie Safarova v Karolina Pliskova: These two players met in Antwerp last week and it was Karolina Pliskova who barely got through to the Semi Final, but I think this Quarter Final potentially goes the other way. The win for Pliskova will give her confidence to beat her compatriot for the second time in a week, but the conditions are different here and Safarova looks to be in very good nick.

If she had played the bigger points slightly better, Safarova would have beaten Pliskova last week and this match is very likely to come down a few points here and there. Safarova has played the big points very well in the last couple of matches and will look to take advantage of Pliskova who had to come through a really tough Third Round match against Ana Ivanovic.

Before this week, Pliskova had been playing the better tennis of the two this season, but she has to serve better than she did against Ivanovic if she is to win this one. It has to be noted as to how well Safarova has been serving in her wins over Casey Dellacqua and Venus Williams and the serve could be the difference maker in earning one or two cheaper points that helps Safarova come through.

This match possibly needs three sets to separate them, but I think Safarova gets a measure of revenge over Pliskova and moves into the Semi Final on Friday.

Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: Garbine Muguruza meets her friend and Doubles partner Carla Suarez Navarro in this Quarter Final and it is still funny to me that Muguruza is over ten places lower in the World Rankings. This has been a good week that should help the younger Spaniard move into the top 20 and perhaps a lot higher, but that means she has to put her friendship with Suarez Navarro aside in this Quarter Final.

They have never met on the Tour before so this is going to be a match which could be decided by which of the players can settle and avoid thinking too much about who they are going up against.

Suarez Navarro has been in very good form of late, but Muguruza is going to know all about her game and should be comfortable on the court. There is definitely a lot more upside in the Muguruza game and I think she has the power to overwhelm her opponent as long as she stays in the moment and doesn't worry too much about her friend.

There will be a lot of respect for each other on the court, but Suarez Navarro is in the second of two long weeks playing tennis and I think Muguruza wears her down and comes through with a 75, 63 win.

Ekaterina Makarova + 3.5 games v Simona Halep: Simona Halep spoke about the pressure she has been feeling as she represented Romania in the Fed Cup and the new heights she has reached on the tennis court. Halep has also been struggling with some kind of illness, but she has come through the first couple of matches fairly comfortably although not coming up against an opponent as good as Ekaterina Makarova.

The Russian made harder work of Zarina Diyas in the Third Round than she perhaps should have done, but Makarova has still come through both opening matches in straight sets and has to take a lot of confidence from her destructive win over Halep at the Australian Open.

Halep wasn't herself that day, but she has doubts in her mind at the moment while Makarova seems to be very focused and very calm on the court. She has every chance of taking at least a set in this one and will have opportunities to win this match which still makes this amount of games being given to her look on the high side.

As long as Makarova finds more quality out of her serve, I do think she stays within this number.

Jeremy Chardy v Ernests Gulbis: This has been a difficult few months for Ernests Gulbis ever since he reached the Semi Final at the French Open and the change in the year hasn't made a difference to his play. The Latvian has lost all of the matches he has played in 2015 and he looks a vulnerable favourite against Jeremy Chardy.

Gulbis has won 3 of the 4 previous matches against Chardy and the Frenchman hasn't been in great form himself, but playing in front of his own fans should inspire him. Chardy also has a decent serve and plays consistent enough tennis to force Gulbis to win this match and shattered confidence could make it difficult for him to do so.

The Frenchman has to hang with Gulbis early on and try to make the demons enter the Latvian's head in this one. Knowing he has yet to win a match in 2015, Chardy must make Gulbis play a lot of balls and see the mistakes come off the racquet, which should give him a chance to win the match.

This might end up three sets, but Chardy at odds against looks a big price considering how many matches Gulbis has lost in recent months.

Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 games v Albert Montanes: Albert Montanes is a experienced veteran on the clay courts who will give Pablo Cuevas a few things to think about, although I still believe the latter will have too much in the locker for him. Cuevas won the title last week in Sao Paulo and had an impressive win over Nicolas Almagro earlier this week and his confidence has to be in a good position to take advantage of Montanes.

The clay courts are predominantly where Montanes plys his trade these days, and he definitely has enough experience to make this difficult for Cuevas. However, his serve is not the best and Cuevas could have the chance to dictate a lot of the play and back up his win from last week.

There will be breaks both ways in the match, but I think Cuevas is a level above Montanes at this stage of their career and I like the Uruguayan to come through 63, 64 at a big price.

Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Pablo Andujar: Fabio Fognini has won all four previous matches against Pablo Andujar including last season in Buenos Aires and I think the Italian is worth backing in this one. He disappointed me last week with an inexplicable collapse against Santiago Giraldo when it looked like the Italian was the better player, but I still think Fognini can cover this small amount of games on Thursday.

Fognini had to dig very deep to come through his First Round match and he had a few issues to get through in that win over Jiri Vesely, but winning that match might give him the chance to kick on and pick up some vital Ranking points. Pablo Andujar also had to come through in three sets against Paolo Lorenzi in the First Round, which ended a run of losses in the new season, but this is the kind of match that can see Fognini outwork his opponent.

It hasn't exactly been a positive start to the season for Fognini either, but he has been decent enough on the clay courts over the last couple of seasons to believe he can get the better of Andujar. The head to head has to play in the Spaniard's mind in this one and it is going to be a long drawn out match that Fognini should eventually come through with a 63, 46, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Lucie Safarova @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Ekaterina Makarova + 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)

February 15-22 Update: 12-8, + 6.02 Units (40 Units Staked, + 15.05% Yield)

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