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Friday, 24 April 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (April 24th)

It's Quarter Final time at the three tournaments being played this week across Europe and the biggest surprise has to be the absence of Rafael Nadal from the draw. I really believed Nadal was in for a big week in Barcelona as he looks to restore his confidence ahead of the French Open, but Fabio Fognini has to be given credit for battling through some tough periods to win that match in straight sets.

Nadal is going to have two big tournaments in Madrid and Rome to prove to himself that he is ready to challenge Novak Djokovic and retain his grip on the French Open that he has dominated for so long. However the loss in Barcelona will only have strengthened the belief that Djokovic is favourite to win the second Grand Slam of the season and that will only be hardened if he wins the next two Masters events as he has dominated the first three.

I'd go so far as to say Novak Djokovic is likely to go into the French Open as the odds on favourite to win the tournament as we get closer to that event and that will definitely be the case if he wins the titles in Madrid and Rome.

Kei Nishikori - 4.5 games v Roberto Bautista-Agut: With Rafael Nadal out of the Barcelona Open for a second season in a row at a very early stage of the tournament, Kei Nishikori is once again the strong favourite to win the event. As the defending Champion, Nishikori has won his first two matches here very comfortably and he dismissed the challenge of Roberto Bautista-Agut last season and I expect he will be too strong again.

That isn't to disrespect Bautista-Agut who had an impressive win over Pablo Cuevas in the last Round and who gave Tomas Berdych all he could handle in a narrow loss last week in Monte Carlo. However, Nishikori plays in a similar manner to Bautista-Agut but is just simply a more consistent player in most departments and I think that is why he will have the edge in this Quarter Final.

There were a high number of breaks of serve when these players met last season and this match is likely to have a similar pattern as neither Nishikori nor Bautista-Agut have a huge serve. I am expecting some long rallies between these players, but that is where I believe Nishikori will have the edge more often than not.

After some twists and turns, I like Nishikori to secure a 75, 63 win.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Pablo Andujar: The big question will be how Fabio Fognini can perform the day after the high of beating Rafael Nadal, especially as he was crushed by David Ferrer earlier this season following a victory over Nadal in Rio De Janeiro.

However, the match up looks a good one for Fognini as he has never previously lost a set to Pablo Andujar and I can understand why that might have happened. For all the mental let downs that Fognini has on the tennis court, he is still a player that has good athleticism and can force opponents to play a lot of balls, while Andujar also doesn't possess a serve that will earn him too many cheap points.

On the other hand, Fognini can get something out of his first serve and his dominance over Andujar can give him some extra confidence to get through this Quarter Final and back up an impressive win over Nadal.

He isn't always the most mentally focused, but I will back Fognini to find a 63, 64 win.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Ekaterina Makarova: There has been a clear turnaround in form displayed by Angelique Kerber over the last month compared to the first three on the Tour and playing in front of the home crowd should inspire her a little more.

It seemed to do the trick in a battling display to recover from being a set down against Maria Sharapova in the last Round and an eight match winning run will have restored any lost confidence she may have had.

The match up with Ekaterina Makarova is a decent one on this surface in my opinion as I am not convinced the Russian is most comfortable with the slippery surface under her feet. The head to head between them reads 6-4 in favour of Kerber too on surfaces that might see the level of competitiveness more even, but rarely are matches between them anything other than a straight sets victory.

As I said, I like Kerber on this surface compared with Makarova and I think she moves into the Semi Final following a 64, 64 win.

Caroline Garcia - 3.5 games v Madison Brengle: I was impressed in the manner that Caroline Garcia held herself together in her Third Round win over Carina Witthoeft as things were certainly not all going for her in that match. There were a few problems for Garcia in terms of looking after her serve in that match, but that is to be expected on the clay courts and the Frenchwoman was dominant for much of that match.

It won't be easy against the American Madison Brengle who has the tendency to make life awkward for opponents, although I am not sure she is best suited to the clay courts. An impressive win over Petra Kvitova might have more to do with the match rustiness of her opponent than Brengle's ability on clay, but it still has to be respected.

However, I think backing that up won't be easy against an in-form Garcia who is the better player as long as she doesn't get frustrated and lose focus.

I don't expect that to happen to a player that should be amongst the best in the world in the years to come and I believe she will find a way to come through with a 64, 64 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Kei Nishikori - 4.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-6, - 4.88 Units (20 Units Staked, - 24.4% Yield)

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