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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2015 (April 15th)

It looked like being a second frustrating day in a row after Jan-Lennard Struff was beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga despite having seven break points and failing to take one, before Fernando Verdasco was wasteful in his match against Grigor Dimitrov.

Fortunately Verdasco fought back in the third set to at least make it a closer match and ensure that he got within the number and prevented it being four straight picks ending up as losers in the first two days of the tournament in Monte Carlo.

We now get to see all the remaining top names in action on Wednesday as the defending Champion Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all set to play their Second Round matches.

Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 games v Juan Monaco: He might be beyond his peak years, but Juan Monaco has opened the 2015 season in strong form and the next couple of months could be huge for him. There is no doubt that Monaco loves the clay courts and this portion of the season should see him have the opportunity to pick up a lot of points, but facing the defending Champion is a big test for the Argentine on Wednesday.

Monaco was an impressive winner in the First Round over Jiri Vesely and this is Stan Wawrinka's first match on the clay courts this season. You also can't ignore the poor run of results Wawrinka has had since winning the title in Rotterdam and another poor week may see the Australian Open Champion of fifteen months ago fall out of the top ten in the World Rankings.

The last three losses have been very disappointing for Wawrinka who showed what he is capable of producing in the 2014 season. Being off his game in this match will give Monaco every chance of securing the upset, but the match up should be a good one for Wawrinka and that is why I like the Swiss Number 2 to get through.

Wawrinka has the bigger serve and has the heavier shots, while his previous campaign in Monte Carlo has to bring back good memories for him. As good as Monaco has been playing, there have still be some vulnerabilities in his fitness and mentality as he has blown some big leads, while the serve is not a dominant shot and will give Wawrinka a chance to get on the attack.

The first match on a new surface is tough, but I expect Wawrinka to gut this out and come through 75, 63.

Tomas Berdych - 5.5 games v Sergiy Stakhovsky: Tomas Berdych has been practicing on the clay courts in Monte Carlo for a while and I do think he will be happy with the draw that offers him a match against Sergiy Stakhovsky in this Second Round.

Berdych has gotten the better of Stakhovsky in their previous matches and the majority of those have been fairly one-sided in his favour. The slower clay courts are not exactly the surface that will suit Stakhovsky's game in this one as I don't believe has either the consistency or the power to handle what Berdych will throw at him through the match.

The lack of previous success on the clay will also be playing on Stakhovsky's mind as he tries to give Berdych something new to look at and he will have to serve very well if he is going to make this a competitive Second Round match.

It is the first match on clay for Berdych in 2015, which might be the biggest problem he has to deal with in this contest and if he can make a decent transition to this surface, I would expect Berdych to come through with a 63, 63 win.

Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Fabio Fognini: The win over Fernando Verdasco in the First Round could be a very important moment for Grigor Dimitrov, especially if you consider he was three break points down when serving for the match. The fact he came through that moment may have restored some of the missing confidence from the Dimitrov game through the 2015 season.

He will need that against Fabio Fognini who is very comfortable playing on the clay courts and who will be expecting to pick up a lot of Ranking points in the coming weeks. However, Fognini can be a maddening player who is as capable of upsetting someone like Rafael Nadal on the clay courts as he is in failing to win a game in a set against someone like Carlos Berlocq.

Fognini has been one of the better players on the clay courts over the last two seasons, but Dimitrov had a decent time on the surface prior to his shocking First Round exit at the French Open. The Bulgarian has to serve well and protect the second serve better than he did against Verdasco on Tuesday, but he might be able to frustrate Fognini who never seems that far from mentally checking out of matches.

It certainly won't be easy, but I think Dimitrov's win over Verdasco will stand him in good stead for the rest of the week and perhaps kick start his season. This could see him battle through Fognini with a 46, 64, 62 win.

Milos Raonic - 4.5 games v Joao Sousa: Milos Raonic is not his most comfortable on the clay courts, but his serve is still an effective enough weapon and getting a second or more additional time to wind up his groundstrokes has served him well.

That is especially the case against some of the lower Ranked players on the Tour and I expect Raonic to be too strong for Joao Sousa even if the Canadian is playing his first match back on the clay courts this season.

The problem for Sousa is that he doesn't really have a dominating shot and the power is generally on the other side of the court against him. He has taken some heavy losses because of that fact and even though the clay is Sousa's favourite surface, he won just one match during this part of the season in 2014.

If Raonic is serving well, the scoreboard pressure is on Sousa to keep in the match mentally and that might be tough in what could end up being a 63, 64 win for the big-serving Canadian.

Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: Two players who like to entertain the crowd and not worry about playing the percentages on a tennis court meet in Monte Carlo in this Second Round match and both Gael Monfils and Alexandr Dolgopolov should entertain those fans in attendance.

Both players believe in their athleticism getting around the court so this match could feature a lot drop shots and non-conventional tennis shots that might lead to frustration for some people watching. However, it also gives the Tour some character and I think both Monfils and Dolgopolov are fun to watch although not always fun to back.

The difference in the game could be made by the fact that Monfils is the better defender and that could lead to extracting more errors from Dolgopolov than the other way around. It might be the reason that Monfils has also won the last two matches when these two play each other, while the Frenchman will be enjoying the support from the stands.

Monfils did have a long match on Tuesday, but that was first thing in the morning and he has been given the full time to recover and I can see him battling through with a 76, 64 win in this one.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v David Goffin: During the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga win over Jan-Lennard Struff, I did tweet out that David Goffin will give the Frenchman a lot more to think about, but I didn't think the layers would have this as a virtual pick 'em.

Tsonga was fortunate that Struff didn't take his chances and made a host of errors to help him through the match and it is clear that Goffin won't do that, but the latter also doesn't have the same power as Struff off the ground.

Instead the Belgian will look to try and wear down Tsonga and should have some success doing that because of the lack of match fitness that Tsonga may show. However, Tsonga's power is going to be a problem for Goffin and he is actually more comfortable on the clay courts than many would initially imagine.

I don't really know where Tsonga stands having been handed the match to a large extent by Struff, but he seems to be in a good place mentally and I think he will come through this one in three sets.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet365 (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet365 (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 1-3, - 4 Units (8 Units Staked, - 50% Yield)

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