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Friday, 20 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 20th)

The tournament being played in Dubai is a step ahead of the others as the Semi Finals will be played on Friday, while the rest of the events will be at the Quarter Final stage of their own tournaments.

Aside from one of the most brutal calls I have seen on a tennis court during this season, Thursday produced another strong number of winners which has pushed the week into a very healthy position. The key is to avoid patting myself on the back and instead focus on the matches that have been scheduled for Friday and hope to find the right choices again and keep this week going in the right direction.

Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: This feels like a breakthrough week for both of these young players as Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova can battle into the biggest Final of their careers to this point. Both have been in very good form having come from a set behind to win their Quarter Final matches and this one could potentially come down to which of the two deals with their nerves more effectively.

It is hard to actually predict how that will pan out, although both have shown tremendous resolve within matches when it seems the pressure is on them. Both Muguruza and Pliskova will look to dominate proceedings behind a solid serve.

Pliskova seems to be the quicker mover of the two from my own eye test, but I think Muguruza has the bigger groundstrokes and the better consistency when faced with heavier shots. The Spaniard has to make a faster start than she did in her win over Carla Suarez Navarro on Thursday when she went down a double break very early on, but doing that will make Muguruza the worthy favourite in my eyes.

It has also been two long weeks for Pliskova and I do wonder if that plays a part in this match too. I am very much leaning towards Muguruza in this one and I can see her coming through with a 62, 36, 64 kind of win in a tough Semi Final.

Sara Errani - 5.5 games v Beatriz Haddad Maia: Sara Errani has comfortably made her way through to the Quarter Final at the Rio Open and she has given one young Brazilian hope a bit of a lesson already here this week. I expect the Italian will have far too much 'know-how' for Beatriz Haddad Maia as the 18 year old's good run comes to an end.

To give Haddad Maia her due, she has dismissed her two challengers this week with consummate ease and has to be full of confidence ahead of this Quarter Final, but Errani is by far the toughest player she would have faced. This is a former French Open Runner Up and Errani will look to make Haddad Maia play a lot of balls and try and fine chinks in the armour of the inexperienced player.

Haddad Maia has also taken some heavy losses to open the 2015 season and Errani should have played her way into form at this stage. The serve remains a problem area for Errani, but she looks after it well enough by dragging opponents into the long rallies they don't really want to get sucked into.

Errani has been a comfortable winner in her first two matches and I think she will come through with a 64, 62 win once she gets a feel of what Haddad Maia can do on the court.

Simone Bolelli + 3.5 games v Gael Monfils: Yes, Gael Monfils is the more likely winner of this match, but I think Simone Bolelli has the ability to take a set and will definitely get close to winning the match outright in my opinion.

Bolelli has been playing some of his best tennis in recent months and the start of the 2015 season has gone the way he would have wanted. He was unfortunate to lose to Milos Raonic in straight sets last week in Rotterdam, but Gael Monfils is much more erratic than Raonic and Bolelli has already seen off the Canadian this week.

The Frenchman will be supported by his home crowd and Monfils does have a very good first serve, but he might just be worn down by the consistent hitting of Bolelli as long as the latter serves well. That is my biggest concern because Bolelli can throw in a sloppy couple of service games and if Monfils punishes him for them, he might get the confidence to win this one going away.

However, I think Monfils is also liable to producing a sloppy game or two on serve which will give Bolelli a chance to really get involved in this match, while tie-breakers are another factor and it all adds up to this amount of games given to the Italian looking too tempting to ignore.

Gilles Simon - 2.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: This is a repeat of a match played in Rotterdam last week as Gilles Simon improved to 3-0 against Jeremy Chardy and he has now won 7 sets in a row against his compatriot. Last week was a little strange with how well Simon served in the match and he has yet to replicate that, although he also has the style to extract errors from the Chardy game.

That was the difference last week as Chardy struggled behind his second serve as soon as the rallies developed and it is hard to see how much he could have changed in one week. Simon hasn't been at his best here in Marseille, but I think Chardy is perhaps over-rated a touch in this one thanks to a win over the out-of-form Ernests Gulbis in the Second Round on Thursday.

Simon has been showing the better form of the two players in 2015 and there is going to be a mental barrier for Chardy to try and break through in this one. I say he doesn't do that and Simon wins this one 64, 67, 63.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Juan Monaco: Juan Monaco actually leads the head to head against David Ferrer, although the last match between the two came at the end of the 2011 season and it is clear that Monaco has slipped in that time.

Both of these players love the clay courts and this should be a match that features long rallies and break point chances in both directions. However, I think Ferrer is the more solid player of the two, even if he is not as strong as he was eighteen months ago, and I believe the Spaniard will eventually wear down Monaco and come through to the Semi Final.

It is Monaco who has arguably looked the better player compared with Ferrer this week, but the way he allowed Jarkko Nieminen to almost sneak the second set in what should have been a routine win has to be a concern. There have been too many of these lapses from Monaco over the last twelve months and someone like Ferrer is not going to give up on any point that easily.

I was actually expecting this to be a 5.5 game spread, which I may not have wanted to be involved in, but the 4.5 game spread is good enough for me as Ferrer records a routine win on paper, 64 63.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Federico Delbonis: This might be a touch on the high side in terms of games being given up considering how erratic Fabio Fognini has the tendency to be, but he is one of the better clay court players on the Tour as long as his mind his focused. He seemed to be zoned in against Pablo Andujar in their Second Round match yesterday and I think Fognini can get the better of Federico Delbonis.

The Argentinian is very comfortable on the clay courts and has a decent first serve which can set up the short ball to put away, but Delbonis has had a difficult start to the new season. Delbonis did lose early in the Sao Paulo last week as the defending Champion, but last season he showed he needed a couple of weeks to find his range on the clay courts during this Golden Swing period.

However, Delbonis will need to be on his game from the very beginning in this one after dismissing Martin Klizan very easily on Thursday. Fabio Fognini is a different kettle of fish compared with Klizan in terms of ability on a clay court, although they have a similarity in terms of mentally checking out of matches at key times.

I would think Fognini is going to win the majority of the extended rallies and as long as he plays the big points effectively, I think he comes through this one 64, 64. Fognini will need to save a few break points on the way to this scoreline, but I think he has success against the Delbonis serve and moves into the Semi Final.

Yen-Hsun Lu v Adrian Mannarino: Yen-Hsun Lu beat Kevin Anderson very easily in the Second Round at Delray Beach and continues to prove himself as a very good hard court player. He was serving very well against Anderson, but the more impressive part of his game was the return of serve, although Adrian Mannarino's lefty serve might cause a few problems for Lu.

In saying that, Lu is 18-18 lifetime against left-handed players on the main Tour and Mannarino's serve is not exactly a huge weapon that will win him a lot of cheap points. Mannarino has been playing well this week, but his wins have come against players that aren't on the same level as Lu and I think the Frenchman struggles with the first big test asked of him.

Losses to Donald Young and Igor Sijsling over the last month are not exactly confidence inducing and I do think Mannarino is the wrong favourite in this one. I actually thought Lu would potentially be as low as 1.60 to win this game, so backing him as the underdog seems a no-brainer to me.

Lu hasn't exactly been pulling up trees in 2015, but wins over Sam Groth and Kevin Anderson place him in better form than Mannarino as far as I am concerned and I will back him to reach the Semi Final in Delray Beach.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sara Errani - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Simone Bolelli + 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet365 (2 Units)
Gilles Simon - 2.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Yen-Hsun Lu @ 2.00 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

February 15-22 Update: 17-9, + 13.56 Units (52 Units Staked, + 26.08% Yield)

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