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Friday, 27 February 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (February 27th)

It was a disappointing Thursday with Petra Kvitova's collapse and Victor Troicki losing his way mentally the biggest reasons for the poor day in the office. It is still a positive week for now, but hopefully that can be built upon in the remaining days of this week's tournaments.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Borna Coric: I have a lot of respect for the knowledge of a few statistical tennis fans that I have a relationship with on Twitter and they seem to be on the same page when it comes to the ability of Borna Coric and what he can achieve on the Tour. Coric is the young face of tennis that has already beaten Rafael Nadal before dismissing Andy Murray for the loss of four games in the Quarter Final here, but now faces Roger Federer who has won the title in Dubai on six previous occasions.

There is a lot of talent in the Coric racquet and I do tend to agree with the likes of those Twitter accounts I have spoken about that this Croatian should be reaching the top 10 in the World Rankings and perhaps a lot higher as long as he can stay healthy.

I expect Coric to be inspired coming up against Federer, but I would be very surprised if the 17 time Grand Slam winner offers so many unforced errors as Andy Murray did on Thursday. The aggression of Federer's game should give him a better footing in rallies and I do think this is more likely to go the way Coric's match with Stan Wawrinka did in Chennai rather than his wins over Murray and Nadal.

Federer will need to serve well to keep the pressure on is younger opponent and I think he will create more chances on the serve than Murray with the added aggression on return setting him up. It won't always be comfortable, but Federer can work his way through to a 64, 62 win.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v Tomas Berdych: The last two times that Novak Djokovic has faced Tomas Berdych, the World Number 1 has dominated to the extent that he has won all four sets and he hasn't lost more than two games in any of those sets.

The layers are taking no chances with Djokovic in this one and he is being asked to cover a big number, but I do think he loves the conditions in Dubai and will have the edge in this one. On the other hand, Berdych has played well here in the past too, but I do wonder about his confidence having been destroyed by Djokovic the last two times they have met.

Djokovic has served well in the last two matches against Berdych and that will be a key again if he is to cover a big handicap because I do think he will create chances to break serve as the best returner on the Tour at the moment.

I can see a situation where Berdych perhaps loses some heart if the first set doesn't go his way and that should give Djokovic a chance to run away with the match in a 75, 62 win.

Lucie Safarova - 3.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: I won't lie- Carla Suarez Navarro has been something of a scourge to me over the last couple of weeks with some stunning wins, although I have also been on the right side of backing/opposing the Spaniard. She is a very solid player, but doesn't really have the big weapons to fully trust in matches, but Suarez Navarro is one of the form players on the WTA Tour at the moment.

However, she is going up against another form player in Lucie Safarova who has been in sparking form over the last couple of weeks and perhaps has been unfortunate not to have had back to back Semi Final appearances. Safarova has been very good this week, although Suarez Navarro will at least have an idea as to how the lefty serve will work after dismissing Petra Kvitova so easily on Thursday following the first set.

It might be weird to read, but I don't think Safarova is as up and down as Kvitova even if the latter has the much higher ceiling. Her consistency should give her a good chance to get through Suarez Navarro as the serve should definitely give the edge to the Czech player as long as she keeps her cool in tough situations.

I do think Safarova will have success against the Suarez Navarro serve and can battle her way through to a 64, 64 win and a place in the Final.

Venus Williams + 3.5 games v Victoria Azarenka: When you look at the results of these two players over the last few days, you can understand why Victoria Azarenka is a big favourite to beat Venus Williams in the second Semi Final in Doha.

However, I am leaning towards taking the games in this one because Williams is the best server that Azarenka will have faced this week and I am not convinced the former World Number 1 is totally secure in that aspect of her own game.

I do think Venus Williams will find a way to break serve a few times in this one, although I am convinced Victoria Azarenka will have plenty of returning success too. That should lead to a tight match that has the potential to go to three sets and Williams also has the mental edge having never lost to Azarenka in the past, including a 76, 64 win in Cincinnati last summer.

Expect to see a lot of twists and turns in this Semi Final, but I do think the games being given to Venus Williams could be too many in what I would have considered to be closer to a pick 'em kind of match.

Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 games v Tommy Robredo: Aside from that stunning five set win for Tommy Robredo over Nicolas Almagro at the French Open a couple of years ago, Nicolas Almagro has dominated the matches against his compatriot. Even that French Open win for Robredo came after he was 2-0 down in sets and I expect Almagro to frank the form that saw him beat Robredo in Sao Paulo a couple of weeks ago.

Almagro has come back to the Tour after a long-term injury and must be enjoying finding his rhythm back on the clay courts and he has played well during this Golden Swing in South America. Losing twice to in-form Pablo Cuevas is not a poor reflection on Almagro and I think he will prove a little too good for Robredo.

You can see why they have a head to head skewed in favour of Almagro- his serve offers up cheaper points and mentally it can be tough to continue trying to win the long, drawn out rallies that Robredo generally has to. I also think the Robredo second serve is something of a weakness and allows Almagro to take control of those rallies and eventually wear down Robredo.

It will never be an easy match against Robredo, but I do think Almagro is going to come through with a 64, 76 win.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Federico Delbonis: Rafael Nadal hasn't looked himself so far in the 2015 season, but I think he should still be too strong for Federico Delbonis who can mentally lose his way in matches.

I also do wonder if the Argentinian has the physicality to keep up with Nadal who will look to extend rallies and has generally gotten better when in his second tournament back on the clay courts. A disappointing Semi Final loss last week to Fabio Fognini was a stunning result for Nadal, but I think he doesn't dwell on these moments for too long and has the ability to wear down Delbonis in this Quarter Final.

The home crowd should keep Delbonis very interested in the match throughout, but they can't come out and play the long, gruelling rallies for him and that is where I expect Nadal to take over. A lot of players do struggle with the physical side when they are up against the Spaniard and that was something I noticed with Delbonis despite going to three sets against Fabio Fognini himself last week.

The first set should be very competitive in this one, but Nadal can then take control and put together a 64, 62 win and move through to the Semi Final.

Maria Sharapova - 5.5 games v Carolina Garcia: Dismiss what the bagel set told you, the first time Maria Sharapova and Carolina Garcia met back at the French Open in 2011, it was a highly competitive match as the young Frenchwoman declared her potential.

I don't think it is too harsh to say that Garcia has yet to really fulfil that potential, nor the prediction that she was a future World Number 1 as described by Andy Murray. Garcia has also been dismissed in two matches against Sharapova since then, although they are playing one another for the first time since Brisbane in January 2014.

The windy conditions in Acapulco won't suit Sharapova's service action, which can be erratic at the best of times, but she has dealt with it well enough in reaching the Semi Final. There have been some tough moments for the Russian to get through, but she has dealt with them well enough and I think Sharapova will have too much in the locker for Garcia.

The last two matches between the players have been very one-sided, but Garcia is an improving player and this could end up in a 75, 62 win for Sharapova once she disheartens her younger opponent.

MY PICKS: Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Venus Williams + 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 5.5 Games @ 1.90 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-7, + 2.62 Units (32 Units Staked, + 8.19% Yield)

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