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Monday, 20 April 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (April 20th)

The first clay court Masters event of the 2015 season is in the books and it has just served to underline the fact that Novak Djokovic looks to be the player to beat heading into the French Open, a Grand Slam he has been desperate to win. His Semi Final win over Rafael Nadal was impressive and this was a week in which Djokovic dispatched everyone he faced without too many errors until the Final, but I am going to put down his performance against Tomas Berdych as 'spending too much emotionally' into beating Nadal the day before.

Djokovic still got the job done and became the first player to win the first three Masters events of a season, which is a remarkable feat no matter how it is dressed up. The next two big events in Madrid and Rome will harden Djokovic's position as favourite to win the French Open if he can continue his dominance at the Masters level, but I am expecting Rafael Nadal to perhaps offer a little more at both events.

Despite the loss to Djokovic, I think there were enough signs that Nadal is getting back to his best and the clay is where he feels most comfortable. Nadal himself spoke of the positives of this week as his performances were getting back to the standard we expect of him, but I think the tournament this week in Barcelona is essential for his mindset going into the next six weeks.

It might be an ATP 500 event, but Nadal has to re-establish his dominance on the clay and win a big title, especially in a decent looking field where he will be tested very early on. He potentially has to meet his conqueror from twelve months ago, Nicolas Almagro, in his first match, while both David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori will be looking to add more titles to their resume so this is a real chance for Nadal to show he is going to peak in time for the French Open.

This is arguably a more important tournament than the Masters in Madrid at the beginning of next month too as the conditions there don't always suit Nadal that well. If Nadal can win in Barcelona, which I think he more than capable of doing, then he can certainly start increasing confidence and becoming a bigger threat going into the next Grand Slam.

I will say something though, it isn't going to be too many times that you can back Rafael Nadal to win a tournament on clay that has the field that has assembled in Barcelona- two years ago I would have been recommending that price, but his lack of recent success makes him look far too short.

Kei Nishikori is the second favourite to defend his title and that does make sense, but again I think he is slightly short.

In Bucharest, the tournament looks a wide open one even if Gael Monfils is a fairly strong favourite to win the title- personally I couldn't trust Monfils and his lack of titles in his career is down to his inconsistency. However, other names are big prices because they are making their first appearances on the clay this season or they have tough draws and you can understand the prices being offered.

The WTA Tour also makes its first stop at a really big tournament on the clay courts in Stuttgart this week- Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep lead the field as well as the market, but that tournament is jam packed with top quality players and hard to pick a winner. Some players are coming back from Fed Cup duty, and this is the first appearance of many of them on clay, so it is better to avoid making an outright pick from that event too.

Victor Troicki - 3.5 games v Daniel Gimeno-Traver: The first Monday of a new week is always tough to find picks from as some of the events conclude their qualifying. This isn't the case this Monday as there is a full schedule in Barcelona, but my sole pick comes in Bucharest where I expect Victor Troicki to be a little too good for Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

It would be wrong to underestimate Gimeno-Traver who spends most of his time on the Tour playing on the clay courts and who was a recent Finalist in Casablanca. At least two of those wins came as the underdog and the Spaniard has also won a Challenger on the surface earlier this season.

Clay might also be Victor Troicki's favourite surface after winning a couple of titles at Challenger level on the surface last season on his return to the Tour following suspension. He was disappointingly beaten early in Monte Carlo by John Isner, but did record a couple of wins over Gimeno-Traver last season too which should give him more belief.

However, the last match was incredibly close because Troicki didn't serve as well as he might, while also being extremely poor on his break point chances and he will have to be better in both departments to win this one. However, I think Troicki has more about him and has been playing well enough to battle through with a 64, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Victor Troicki - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet365 (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Final: 11-11, - 0.06 Units (42 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

Season 2015+ 37.07 Units (559 Units Staked, + 6.63% 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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