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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

French Open Day 4 Picks 2015 (May 27th)

The start to the tournament in Roland Garros has been very good for the picks, but Tuesday felt like a much worse day than it actually was when you look back with the results in front of you.

The day went 2-3 for the picks made, but there is a feeling that the tournament owes me a bit of luck now after two of the three losing picks got to match point, which would have seen them also cover the handicap, but both failed to take that chance and actually lost the match.

I can't remember the last time I have had a player get to match point and fail to win, let alone two of those occurrences on the same day and it was quite remarkable at the similarities in both James Duckworth's and Christina McHale's losses.

Both had yet to drop a set when they got to match point and both missed that chance before ultimately losing that set in a tie-breaker. Both Duckworth and McHale were then serving first in the deciding set and simply needed to win that set which would have also produced a cover of the handicap,

This is where there were a couple of differences as James Duckworth completely went away having lost back to back tie-breakers to book his place in the Second Round, while Christina McHale went 2-0 up but hurt herself at that point and ultimately came up short in a tight deciding set.

Despite the strong three days at the French Open, both of those losing picks are highly frustrating and I do feel I could have had a much stronger start. You have to clear your mind and start again though rather than feeling you need to 'chase' winners you should have had and that is why I also took a couple of extra hours before looking at the schedule for Wednesday and creating my list of picks.

It has still been a strong tournament start so that is the positive mindset that I am holding onto as the Second Round gets underway with the draw now split in half as traditionally for the rest of the way.

The bottom halves of both men's and women's events get the start of the Second Round and will be played through Wednesday.

Roger Federer - 8.5 games v Marcel Granollers: He might not be the force of old, but Roger Federer is still among the leading contenders at Grand Slam events even if he is perhaps more vulnerable over the best of five sets than he has been since before winning his first Slam at Wimbledon in 2003.

He is also not the dominant force of old that could easily brush aside opponents in the early Rounds of tournaments, so it might be a surprise that I am looking for him to cover a large spread against Marcel Granollers.

The obvious talking point from Federer's First Round win over Alejandro Falla was his criticism of the lack of security at Roland Garros, but his performance on the court was perhaps under-appreciated against an opponent who has regularly troubled Federer. Aside from not taking more of the chances he created, Federer looked in strong form to take into this Second Round match.

The match up with Marcel Granollers shouldn't make Federer will uncomfortable as the Spaniard doesn't have too many big weapons to trouble the former World Number 1. The first serve can be effective at times, but Granollers will give Federer chances and I don't think the latter will be taxed by the situations he sees on the court.

Matches between them have been regulation wins for Federer including a thumping at the US Open last summer, and Granollers has taken many a thumping during this clay court season. His serve can give Federer the chance for at least one set with a double break and that should give him a routine 63, 62, 64 kind of win.

Juan Monaco - 4.5 games v Teymuraz Gabashvili: Juan Monaco made his First Round win over Federico Delbonis far more difficult than it perhaps should have been, but he has had time to get ready for his Second Round match. He might have expected to see Feliciano Lopez here, but Teymuraz Gabashvili had other ideas in a straight sets First Round win and is a more dangerous customer than his Number 74 World Ranking may suggest.

The problem Gabashvili has had is turning his form from the Challenger circuit into consistent results at the main ATP level, but he has plenty of talent and shot-making ability. The serve is also a decent weapon when Gabashvili finds a rhythm on it and Monaco will do well to focus completely on his opponent.

The good thing for Monaco fans is that this is a player that does give his all every time he goes onto the court, even if he can sometimes struggle in his role as a front-runner. Managing his mental state is always a big question mark for Monaco who can get edgy when closing in on a win, but his talent on a clay court should give him the edge in this match.

Monaco will look to force Gabashvili into some deep rallies and the conditions in Paris did make the court slower on Tuesday which would be to the Argentinian's favour. Grinding down Gabashvili will be the key for Monaco, although he could easily drop a set in this one too on the talent level the former has alone.

Even in that situation, I think Monaco will be too good and come through with a 63, 36, 64, 63 win.

Kei Nishikori - 6.5 games v Thomaz Bellucci: This could have the makings of a really difficult test for Kei Nishikori, but I think Thomaz Bellucci could struggle having won the title in Geneva last week. Winning a title will give him confidence on his favourite surface, but the Brazilian will also have to fight the fatigue factor against an opponent that can get plenty of balls back in play and force players to have to dig deep into long, drawn out rallies.

There were some decent wins for Bellucci in Geneva last week, but none against a player of the level of Nishikori who is also very comfortable on the clay. Bellucci might have won their only previous match, but that was eight years ago and suffice to say that Nishikori is much improved these days.

I don't think anything I have said should have you under-estimating what Bellucci can produce when he is confident- this is a player that took a set off of Novak Djokovic on the clay courts of Rome, while Bellucci's lefty serve might also need some time for Nishikori to decipher.

However, Bellucci's fitness levels could be an issue as could his tendency to make a host of errors when feeling the pace mentally. That has seen him drop some sets with a couple of breaks of serve over the last six weeks and that should give Nishikori a chance to weather the storm and finally break down Bellucci in a 46, 63, 64, 62 win.

Fabio Fognini - 5.5 games v Benoit Paire: Two of the characters of the ATP Tour meet in the Second Round and this could be a match with plenty of flashy shots coupled in with some of the most ridiculous tennis you are likely to see over the next two weeks. Shot selection isn't always the strong point of either Fabio Fognini or Benoit Paire who seem happier trying to impress the watching crowd than thinking of the percentage play.

That might be a little harsh on Fabio Fognini who has been one of the better clay court players on the entire Tour over the last eighteen months. His biggest issue might be mentally as he won't just be playing Paire, but a partisan French crowd that won't be impressed by any of Fognini's antics.

The form of the two players will only point to one winner, but Fognini is an erratic player who might get too involved with the crowd to remain focused. Benoit Paire has a decent first serve which can help him put the pressure on the Italian, but he is also someone who mentally struggles under pressure and will be forced to play more balls than he would like.

With the way both players can check out of matches at times, this should go at least four sets, but I think Fabio Fognini works his way past the crowd and Paire with a 36, 64, 61, 64 win.

Pablo Andujar + 4.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: This is a tougher Second Round match to predict than the layers seem to think as I do think Pablo Andujar is being under-rated against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Some of that may have come from the fact that Kohlschreiber was such a comfortable First Round winner, but Andujar wasn't overly threatened either in a much tougher match. They have both had similar clay court results over the last couple of months but it is Andujar who has had the more impressive victories in that time.

Wins over David Ferrer and Fabio Fognini show what Pablo Andujar is capable of on the clay courts and I think the Spaniard can give Kohlschreiber plenty to think about. I do believe Kohlschreiber is the better player on other surfaces, but I am not convinced that is the case on the clay courts and there is every chance the upset lands in this Second Round match.

There is every chance this match goes the distance too and I think Andujar is getting one too many games here and I will back him to make this a really competitive match, one he might be able to sneak the victory out of.

Lucie Safarova - 5.5 games v Kurumi Nara: After winning the title in Doha earlier this season, Lucie Safarova would have come into the clay court season with a high expectation of success. However she has not really been able to match that performance in the Middle East that took her to the title, although Safarova showed her ability on the slower surfaces with an impressive and hard fought win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the First Round.

The match up with Kurumi Nara should be one that suits Safarova down to the ground as there won't be a lot that the Nara can bring to the court to intimidate the latter. Safarova has a decent serve which should set up the rallies to her liking as she can bring her aggression forward, while Nara will give her chances to break serve as long as Safarova is returning as effectively as she can.

You have to be the aggressor on the clay courts to be really successful and that is where Nara can struggle as she prefers using the pace of her opponents and making a lot of balls back in play. That won't really cut it if Safarova is on form and Nara has had a hard time on the clay courts over the last eighteen months aside from a successful time in Rio De Janeiro in February 2014.

A good serving day for Safarova should keep her in front on the scoreboard and help her eventually wear down Nara in a 64, 62 win.

Elena Vesnina - 2.5 games v Polona Hercog: Polona Hercog had an easy First Round match as Shuai Peng struggled to deal with her injuries and eventually had to pull out of the match having lost eight games in a row. Hercog has to be hoping that she can take advantage of any fatigue Elena Vesnina may be feeling having had to dig deep to beat Kirsten Flipkens in the First Round, although there has been plenty of rest for her ahead of this Second Round commencing.

Prior to the win over Peng, Hercog had been struggling on the clay courts and she will have to better if she is to beat Vesnina who has put together some wins over the last six weeks.

It has been a hit and miss season for Vesnina- she has produced the goods on the Doubles Tour, but the Singles has been something of a let down although some wins recently might have restored confidence.

This should be a tight match though between two players who like to get on the front foot and play aggressive tennis and it may come down to who is having a better day serving. Aggressive returning will also be a key to the successful outcome for one of these players and I think Vesnina's recent wins will give her the stronger mental belief.

That might be the difference in a match that could easily go the distance as I look for Vesnina to knuckle down at crunch times to come through 63, 46, 64.

MY PICKS: Roger Federer - 8.5 Games @ 1.80 Stan James (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 6.5 Games @ 1.90 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Andujar + 4.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elena Vesnina - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

French Open Update: 13-5, + 14.58 Units (36 Units Staked, + 40.5% Yield)

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