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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 24th)

Sergiy Stakhovsky - 3.5 games v Lukas Rosol: It has been a good couple of weeks for Sergiy Stakhovsky which included beating Lukas Rosol very easily last week in Marseille and I am expecting him to frank that form in Dubai.

It was a measure of revenge for Stakhovsky having been embarrassed in a Challenger event by Rosol last season and his form has been better in the last few weeks than his Czech opponent. Stakhovsky has reached the Quarter Final in Rotterdam and the Semi Final in Marseille over the last couple of weeks so there is a chance he has too much tennis in his legs, but he is playing an opponent that has barely won sets, let alone matches.

Rosol was comfortably dismissed the last couple of matches he has played and he has won just one of his five matches this season. As big as his first serve can be, Rosol doesn't always back it up and he sees his serve broken far too often than it should be.

As long as tiredness and fatigue don't set in for Stakhovsky, I believe he can win this match 75, 64.

Roberto Bautista-Agut - 3.5 games v Dominic Thiem: Roberto Bautista-Agut already has two wins over the talented youngster Dominic Thiem during the 2015 season and I would expect the Spaniard to make it a hat-trick of wins in Dubai.

I can understand why the match up is a bad one for Thiem- as good as a shot-maker as he has the potential to become, he is facing an opponent who is very good defensively and can force him to play one more ball and then extract errors from his game. David Goffin is another player that seems to have the kryptonite to the Thiem game and he plays in a similar style to Bautista-Agut, at least according to me, and I can see the higher Ranked player coming through.

Their matches have been close, but Bautista-Agut has been in control of both previous wins and I believe he will have a little too much at this moment of time for Thiem and come through 75, 64.

Gilles Muller + 4.5 games v Andy Murray: With the returning ability that Andy Murray has, he can make this number of games look very small even against the better servers on the Tour. However, Murray will have to serve a lot better than he did in Rotterdam if he is to see off Gilles Muller easily.

The big-serving lefty has played well on the Tour for much of 2015 and Muller has returned to competing against the best players thanks to a strong 2014 season. His serve has given the likes of Novak Djokovic plenty to think about and he is not all about pace with very good placement meaning he can come in and attack the net.

Of course going against someone like Murray it can be tough for Muller to feel comfortable coming forward and giving the British Number 1 a target to pass. It is the Murray serve that might be where Muller has enough joy to keep this match close on the scoreboard, although I am expecting Murray's ability to get balls back into play off the return of serve will mentally wear down Muller.

A 76, 63 win for Murray would be a comfortable enough day in the office to move through to the Second Round and looks the kind of scoreline that this match may end up producing.

Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: These two good friends meet for the second time in the space of less than seven days in Singles play and I expect Garbine Muguruza backs up her win over Carla Suarez Navarro from the tournament in Dubai.

Muguruza could potentially be feeling the fatigue from all the tennis she had to play last week having reached the Singles Semi Final and Doubles Final, but Suarez Navarro was right there with her in the latter and also met Muguruza in the Quarter Final.

The bigger weapons are coming from the Muguruza side of the court and as long as she looks after own service games better than she did last week, she should be comfortable enough in this kind of match. Muguruza proved she can get the better of the Suarez Navarro serve and it is hard to see the pattern of this match changing too much from what I expected to see last week.

This one might be slightly more straight-forward than last week when Muguruza needed three sets to see off Suarez Navarro and I will back her to cover the games again.

Fernando Verdasco v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez has been in very good form top open the 2015 season with one Quarter Final appearance under his belt, as well as reaching the Fourth Round of the Australian Open and then winning a title in Zagreb.

He has been playing with consistency and protecting his serve, which is not one of the biggest on the Tour, and Garcia-Lopez will come into the match as the slight favourite against Fernando Verdasco.

It has been a difficult start to the season for Verdasco who is blowing hot and cold more than usual and will be coming off the Golden Swing in South America to take in this tournament in Dubai. It will also be a mental battle for Garcia-Lopez having lost three in a row to his compatriot and I do think the hard courts should aid Verdasco to overcome this First Round obstacle.

There is every chance this is going to be a long match in the final match of the day in Dubai and can very easily go three sets, but I do think Verdasco can win the match with the bigger groundstrokes as long as he doesn't mentally check out of the match.

Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 games v Filip Krajinovic: The defending Champion opens his campaign in Acapulco on Tuesday as Grigor Dimitrov is first match up on the main court in Mexico. He is perhaps looking at the start of 2015 as something of a disappointment with a Fourth Round exit at the Australian Open as well as an early defeat in Rotterdam a couple of weeks ago so defending this title is important for Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian has admitted himself that he has to find the consistency to take the next step in his development and start winning some of the bigger prizes on the ATP Tour. Dimitrov should have a chance to work his way into this tournament against Filip Krajonovic who is Ranked outside the top 100 and who spends the majority of his time playing in levels below the main Tour.

Krajinovic hasn't really been able to transfer the form from the Challenger circuit to the main Tour and he is going up against an aggressive returner that will look to create chances to break serve. As long as Dimitrov serves well, he should have a chance to win this first match fairly comfortably, although the first set will be critical as he gets used to the conditions again.

If Dimitrov can come through with a 64/75 kind of win in the first set, he should be able to pull away in the second set and come through with a win to cover this number.

Ajla Tomljanovic - 3.5 games v Magdalena Rybarikova: Daniela Hantuchova pulled out of the tournament in Acapulco as, I assume, the travelling must have not helped over the last couple of weeks. That means the draw has been re-jigged a little to give Ajla Tomljanovic the chance to take on Magdalena Rybarikova and I believe Tomljanovic can achieve a win by the margin I expected for Hantuchova yesterday.

It hasn't been the best 2015 season for Tomljanovic, but reaching the Final in Pattaya City a couple of weeks ago might be the spark she needs to start moving up the Rankings. She was a Junior with a lot of potential and is getting over some of the health issues that have stunted her growth on the Pro Tour over the last few years.

Tomljanovic looks more settled now after her move to Australia to represent that nation and she was a Quarter Finalist here last year which included a thumping First Round win over Rybarikova.

The confidence will be on Tomljanovic's side of the court as Rybarikova looks to snap her four match losing run, while the former has a big enough serve to set up some easier points. It won't be as easy as the 61, 63 win from 2014 in Acapulco, but I still think Tomljanovic is too strong and comes through while covering this number.

MY PICKS: Sergiy Stakhovsky - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista-Agut - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gilles Muller + 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ajla Tomljanovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-1, + 2.04 Units (6 Units Staked, + 34% Yield)

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