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Monday, 23 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 23rd)

After a poor opening two days last week, it turned out to be another decent week on the Tour with plenty of winners over the last few days which helped send the season tally upwards. I stayed away from the Semi Finals and Finals last week because I wasn't completely convinced of those picks, although I do wish I had recommended David Ferrer to cover the handicap against Fabio Fognini in Rio De Janeiro after making the point that the latter will find it hard to recover from his impressive win over Rafael Nadal.

I stayed away from the outright picks last week and I am doing the same this week with the tournaments having some short favourites on the ATP Tour, while the WTA tournament in Doha has a stellar field, but also it is coming off the back of a tough event in Dubai so seeing the form develop over the week looks a better option than backing someone early in the week.

The joint tournament in Acapulco has just about got the draw out, let alone any outright markets, so there really isn't the time to analyse the draw and get any potential picks out.

Like last week, I will have to add picks from the tournaments for each day at different times with the markets not always available the night before (UK time) for events in Buenos Aires and Acapulco which will begin later in the afternoon/evening. Any picks will usually be out at least two/three hours before matches are due to get underway so there will be plenty of time to get on.

Ernests Gulbis - 1.5 games v Denis Istomin: Two players who have been completely out of form to open the 2015 season will meet in the First Round in Dubai and I think this might be the time to back Ernests Gulbis to finally win a match in the New Year.

Gulbis was absolutely terrible in his loss to Jeremy Chardy last week and made far too many unforced errors that aren't going to cut it at this level. It is hard to imagine he began this season as high in the Rankings as he has and Gulbis has failed to back that up.

However, he is playing Denis Istomin who has won one match all season and is really having a hard time on the Tour at the moment. There is always the feeling that Istomin is never too far away from dropping his serve and he has lost his last two matches against Gulbis which could give the Latvian the mental edge in the match.

He will have to serve well to keep Istomin at bay and this match may even come down to which of the players makes the least mistakes. I do think Gulbis can be a head case at times who loses focus, but I think Istomin will aid him through this one and the higher Ranked player wins through 75, 46, 64.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: He hasn't played since his surprising loss to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open, but Roger Federer should be very comfortable in the Dubai surroundings where has won six titles in the past.

He is also going against Mikhail Youzhny, the veteran Russian who Federer has beaten 15 times in a row and also 4 times at this tournament. Youzhny has a lot of experience and has given Federer problems in the past, but the way Rafael Nadal dismissed him at the Australian Open underlines that he is coming towards the end of his career.

I do respect the fact that Youzhny won't give up at any point, but his serve is not the biggest weapon and Federer should create chances against it with the key being whether he is efficient on break points or not. That has been a negative of the Federer game at times when he can be a little loose on those break points, while Federer also has to serve with more consistency than he did at the Australian Open.

This is a lot of games to give up considering Federer's lack of success on break points at time, but I think Youzhny has lost a little more out of his game after a long career and he will struggle to stay with the World Number 2. Federer can take the first set with one break of serve and then wear down Youzhny for a double break in the second set to cover this number of games.

Samantha Stosur + 3.5 games v Lucie Safarova: Lucie Safarova has dominated the head to head with Sam Stosur and has shown she is in good form by reaching the Dubai Quarter Final last week. She might have gone a lot further if it wasn't for a poor umpire call at the end of the second set when it looked like Safarova may have been able to turn the screw to the extent of cracking Karolina Pliskova, but it was not to be.

There should be no issues of a lack of confidence and Safarova is going up against Samantha Stosur who has lost a lot of matches this season.

Last week saw the Australian dismissed by Caroline Wozniacki in three sets, but Stosur has a serve that should at least keep her competitive in this match. If Stosur is serving well, she will have a chance of at least taking a set, if not the match, and I think Safarova could be put under pressure by her.

However, Safarova has the mental edge over Stosur having won 9/12 previous matches, but the last two matches have been competitive, while Stosur snapped a 6 match losing run earlier this season in Sydney. This just looks a lot of games if Stosur can take at least a set and I will back her with the games in hand.

Daniela Hantuchova - 3.5 games v Magdalena Rybarikova: Winning a Title will have given Daniela Hantuchova a boost in confidence and her relatively early exit from Dubai should mean she has had enough time to get accustomed to the time change with another long journey to Mexico.

Hantuchova has moved from Thailand to Dubai to Mexico over the last three weeks, which can take a huge toll as anyone who does even limited travel will tell you and that is not including the physicality that these players have to put in on a tennis court. The added time should have given Hantuchova a chance to adjust for this tournament and she is playing an out of form Magdalena Rybarikova who has rarely been competitive, let alone winning matches.

There might only be a few places between these players when it comes to the Rankings, but Hantuchova has been displaying much better form and I do think she will be too good for Rybarikova in this First Round match.

The only concern with Hantuchova is some of her own erratic play that does give opponents a chance to get into matches, but I think she will come through this match 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Ernests Gulbis - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.17 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur + 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Daniela Hantuchova - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

February 15-22 Daily Picks Final19-13, + 8.72 Units (64 Units Staked, + 13.63% Yield)

Season 2015+ 28.19 Units (265 Units Staked, + 10.64% 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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