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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (April 7th)

The two favourites for the Miami Masters and Premier Event tournaments both came through over the weekend and that means the hard court season has mostly come to an end until July.

With that said, the clay court events have begun this week in Casablanca, Houston and Charleston as the road to Roland Garros begins.

Most of the big name players are not in action this week, but a lot of those on the ATP Tour will return at the Monte Carlo Masters next week. The biggest story about the clay court season that I did read this week was the Novak Djokovic is likely to go into the French Open as the favourite to win that event, although things can quickly change if Rafael Nadal gets back to winning ways on his favourite surface.

It's hard to imagine anyone else challenging for that title at Roland Garros, although Rafael Nadal's slip to Number 5 in the World Rankings means there is the potential that Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet as early as the Quarter Final at the next Grand Slam event. It also makes the draws for the upcoming events very interesting as we could see a lot of Nadal-Djokovic matches on the clay courts at a far earlier time than we have become used to.

That will also put pressure on both players with Ranking points to protect during this clay court season and there is a real potential for Rafael Nadal to drop even further than his current position if he can't return to winning ways over the coming two months.

The picks had a decent return from the tournament in Miami and you can see the season records at the bottom of this post.

Belinda Bencic - 4.5 games v Casey Dellacqua: After a poor start to the 2015 season, Belinda Bencic had a couple of good tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami and she can back that up here in Charleston where she reached the Semi Final last season.

That was about the extent of her success on the clay courts in 2014, but Bencic has more potential to produce her best tennis on the clay courts compared with Casey Dellacqua.

The Australian hasn't been in the best of form this season and I am not sure she has the consistency off the ground to outlast Bencic in this match. The latter also dismissed Dellacqua in Miami and I think the confidence will be higher on her side of the court which should give Bencic the edge in this First Round match.

Her success at this tournament a year ago will also bring good memories and I like Bencic to come through in fairly routine manner.

Nicolas Almagro - 5.5 games v Taro Daniel: All of the qualifiers at these early tournaments should have an edge over their First Round opponents as they are comfortable with the conditions they face, but the change in surface also makes a real difference.

However, Nicolas Almagro has played a lot of tennis on his favoured clay courts since returning from injury and he won't be too disappointed to have the return of the clay court season. He can begin to move up the World Rankings from his current position of 76 and I think Almagro will be a little too strong for Taro Daniel.

You have to respect Daniel for winning three matches here to get into the main draw and he has had success on the clay courts at the level below the main ATP Tour. In saying that, Almagro is a very strong player on the surface who has the power and consistency to trouble players like Daniel for much of the match and I think he will wear down the Japanese player.

The first set should be very competitive as Almagro finds his feet back on the clay courts, but I expect the Spaniard to then move through the gears and come through with a 64, 62 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Paolo Lorenzi: The clay courts in Houston are very different to those that we will see when the Tour moves back to Europe, and I don't just mean the colour. They play a little faster than the traditional red dirt and that is why players like John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Andy Roddick are previous winners here.

The current defending Champion is actually much more familiar with the normal red dirt clay courts and Fernando Verdasco should prove to be too good for Paolo Lorenzi for the second time this season. Verdasco only lost three games in beating Lorenzi in Quito earlier this season and while I think this will be more competitive, I also think the Spaniard will dictate the tempo of the match and the rallies.

Verdasco has the stronger serve and the heavier groundstrokes, while Lorenzi will look to extract mistakes by getting a lot of balls back in play. That is not the worst way for him to approach this match to be perfectly honest, but I think the match up is one that should be comfortable for Verdasco as he should have time to line up his returns.

If he can keep Lorenzi camped behind the baseline, I would expect Verdasco to come through with a fairly straight-forward 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Belinda Bencic - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)

Miami Picks Final25-20, + 5.64 Units (90 Units Staked, + 7.45% Yield)

Season 2015+ 36.27 Units (487 Units Staked, + 7.72% 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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