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Friday, 29 May 2015

French Open Day 6 Picks 2015 (May 29th)

After a couple of losing days, Thursday proved to be a positive day for the picks thanks to two late winners in Simone Bolelli and David Ferrer who both were very comfortable three set winners.

It made for a much better day after Andy Murray somehow lost his focus completely in the middle of his match against Joao Sousa and after a really poor start to the day with the two picks from the women's tournament both failing to get the job done.

The tournament has been one with plenty of upsets as some Seeds have tumbled and it was very close to being a day when the biggest surprise in the women's section was close to being completed. Serena Williams found herself a set down in her match against Anna-Lena Friedsam but managed to battle back to move into the Third Round as it looked like she might be joining Simona Halep in beginning to prepare for the grass court season.

Williams going out would have opened the door for the two outright winners I have picked from the women's draw, but the tennis fan in me is glad she has moved into the Third Round where she will face Victoria Azarenka. The latter has yet to truly find the consistency to move back to the upper echelon of the women's game where Azarenka had been prior to her injury issues last season, but these players had a classic match in Madrid earlier this month and looks to be potentially the match of the day on Saturday.

We have now reached the Third Round of both draws and that usually means a real upturn in level of matches being offered to the public. That is highlighted on Friday with some very intriguing matches taking place as well as the Williams-Azarenka match scheduled for Saturday.

The majority of the better matches are taking place in the women's draw at this stage, but the men's might be the calm before the storm with some very interesting matches coming up from the Fourth Round onwards as long as the right players make it through to that stage and beyond.

Lukas Rosol - 2.5 games v Teymuraz Gabashvili: Both Lukas Rosol and Teymuraz Gabashvili had impressive Second Round wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Juan Monaco respectively as both had gone into those matches as fairly big underdogs.

The chance to move into the Fourth Round of a Grand Slam event is not something either of these players have been too familiar with in their career and this might come down to which of these two handle that expectation better. I do think Gabashvili is mentally stronger than Rosol as he doesn't have the same fluctuations in his level of play which can come down to Rosol losing focus and perhaps some confidence in playing the right shot at the right time.

Rosol's favourite surface is the clay courts and he has had some real success on the surface in the past, even if he is most famous for knocking off Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. I actually think Rosol should be a little disappointed he hasn't made more out of his game than he has with the potential he has, but a lot of that is down to the mental side of the sport.

That game should be big enough to see him past Gabashvili, but Rosol won't be able to look past his opponent else he will be stunned. I said in the last Round that Gabashvili has the talent to be much higher in the World Rankings than his current position, but I think Rosol has a serve that can get him going forward in this match and dictate things from the back of the court.

It looks like a match that could easily go four sets, but I think Rosol shows why he is the higher Ranked player and comes through.

Roger Federer - 9.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: Roger Federer might have beaten Marcel Granollers very easily in the Second Round, but there were signs that showed why he is unlikely to win the title here barring some significant luck going his way. He has already gotten some of that by being on the other side of the draw to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, but Federer's sloppy service games that led to a couple of breaks for Granollers will inspire opponents against him.

It is unlikely that Damir Dzumhur is going to be one of those opponents as the Bosnian has not really featured in Grand Slam events in the past and has already matched his best previous performance when he reached the Third Round at the Australian Open.

His height was always going to make it tough for Dzumhur to move up the World Rankings on the professional Tour and it really does hinder his ability to win cheap points on the serve. The pressure of playing Roger Federer and all the mystique that surrounds the 17 time Grand Slam Champion will only make it more difficult for Dzumhur and it might be a big task for him to even make this a competitive match.

Federer has to serve better than he has in the first two Rounds in Paris, but this should be a match up that he is comfortable performing in and I think he will wear down Dzumhur. The Swiss star has made a decent start to matches too and this could easily end in a 61, 64, 63 win for the Number 2 Seed.

Gael Monfils 3-1 v Pablo Cuevas: One of the more intriguing matches in the men's Third Round draw scheduled for Friday is between Gael Monfils and Pablo Cuevas. Gael Monfils might be the great entertainer who admits he would rather please the fans than win, but he has showed some steel and determination this week especially in his Second Round win over Diego Schwartzman when he trailed 2-1 in sets.

Now things don't get any easier for the Frenchman as he faces Pablo Cuevas in the Third Round with the latter very strong on the clay courts and playing with plenty of confidence. As tough as Monfils' had it in the Second Round, Cuevas also had to battle past Dominic Thiem with every set of his four set win going to at least twelve games.

The feeling I have in the match is that Monfils' athleticism is going to be too much for Cuevas to deal with as the match wears on, but I would be incredibly surprised if this is a straight-forward win for the home favourite. Monfils seems to have too many lapses to see off a clay court specialist without dropping a set and Cuevas has played well enough over the season to think he can take advantage of those lapses.

Both players had plenty taken out of them in the Second Round, but the home crowd should get very much behind Monfils which should inspire him to dig deep enough to come through. A small interest in a four set win for Monfils looks like it could have plenty of chances to come in as long as the Second Round hasn't left him with nothing in the tank.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-1 v Pablo Andujar: In their previous match eighteen months ago, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crushed Pablo Andujar fairly comfortably, but that match was on the hard courts and the Frenchman is still looking to find his form having returned from injury recently.

Tsonga will have to be aware of the challenge in front of him as Andujar is a Spaniard who is very comfortable on the clay courts. He showed his belief in his own game by coming from 2-4 down to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 in the final set decider in the Second Round which had to be completed yesterday.

That win would concern me as to how much Andujar has left in the tank for this Third Round, but I think he can give Tsonga far more to think about than the first two opponents the latter has faced. However Andujar's run to the Final in Barcelona shows he is more than decent on the clay and I think he can trouble Tsonga for a while before the fatigue perhaps begins to wear him down.

Andujar is a solid player who has the patience to be successful on the clay, but Tsonga will have the power and aggression to force him on the back foot. That was how Kohlschreiber began to turn around their match in the Second Round before falling short, but I think Tsonga will use the home support to carry him through although not before dropping a set.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni + 3.5 games v Alize Cornet: After beating Simona Halep in arguably the biggest surprise of the French Open so far, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has to use all of her experience to be able to focus on the next task at hand. She will also need to cope with the pressure of playing an opponent that will receive all of the support as Alize Cornet looks to become the first Frenchwoman to win this title since 2000.

Cornet is the biggest hope for the home crowd this season, although she will do well to take away the back pages from Kristina Mladenovic at the moment. However, the exit of Halep has opened up the section for Cornet and she will be the favourite to reach the Quarter Final at the least.

How Cornet deals with will play a big part in this match against an opponent who has been playing very well over the last few weeks. The results might not be that much to look at but Lucic-Baroni has forced Madison Keys to dig very deep last week and the win over Halep was very impressive.

You also have to accept that Cornet hasn't been in great form on the clay courts this season either and this looks like it could be a close match. The expectation is on Cornet to progress without Halep to play in the Third Round, but I am not sure she is the best at handling the pressure that comes with that and I can see this going into a deciding set and remaining very nip and tuck until the end.

Lucie Safarova - 3.5 games v Sabine Lisicki: It is Sabine Lisicki who has won three of the four previous matches against Lucie Safarova, but the sole meeting on clay was won by the latter and I do think she is the more comfortable player on this surface.

There is plenty to like about Lisicki's game when she is firing at her top level, but the German struggles to do that consistently especially when off the grass courts. That is where Lisicki is likely to have her best results in Grand Slam events, and her clay court form was not much to write home about coming into Paris.

Lisicki does produce some big time serves, but Lucie Safarova should have the edge when it comes to confidence in her movement on the clay. Once the rallies get going I would expect Safarova to be able to move Lisicki around the court and unleash some of her own power with the extra time you tend to get on the clay courts.

The Safarova serve can also be a big weapon and I think she will be able to dictate many of the rallies that develop. Of course Lisicki will be a threat if she is  producing her 'A' game, but I am not sure she is comfortable enough on clay do that with enough consistency to beat Safarova and I like the Czech player to come through 75, 64.

Angelique Kerber v Garbine Muguruza: The Victoria Azarenka-Serena Williams match might be the biggest of the Third Round in the women's draw, but this is one match that should be very intriguing for the fans. Angelique Kerber has produced plenty of top quality tennis during the clay court season after a poor start to the 2015 season, while Garbine Muguruza has beaten Serena Williams in Paris before and is a dark horse for the title.

The problem for Muguruza is she hasn't played enough tennis over the last six weeks and she had suffered a couple of disappointing defeats as the Spaniard looked to get over her injury.

Out of the two players, I honestly think Muguruza has the much better ability and I am still surprised she is as 'low' in the World Rankings as her current placing of 20. The power and the mental side seem to be with Muguruza, but her consistency still needs to be improved and that is where a defender of the capability of Kerber can eventually wear her down and force mistakes from her.

Muguruza will go for her shots no matter the situation on the scoreboard, but Kerber can frustrate her by making her play more balls than she would expect. It is part of the reason why the German has won all three previous matches against Muguruza and I think Kerber is playing well enough to improve that record to four wins in a row.

Both players have won their two matches here comfortably, but this looks like it might go the distance before Kerber just has a little too much and comes through.

Maria Sharapova - 4.5 games v Sam Stosur: This is another brilliant Third Round match up in the women's event at the French Open and one that should prove to be the biggest test for Maria Sharapova in her bid to reach a fourth consecutive French Open Final.

The clay courts are perfect for Sam Stosur whose serve is a real weapon in Paris and will give Sharapova plenty to think about. That was the case twelve months ago after two tight sets were split between these players before Sharapova wrapped up the match with a bagel in the decider.

You could argue that Stosur is coming into this tournament in stronger form and with a higher confidence level than last year as she won the event in Strasbourg last week. However, I do wonder if all that tennis will eventually tell on her although she has had very little to do in two comprehensive wins so far this week.

The Australian has to feel confident she can overturn the result from last year after seeing some of the problems Maria Sharapova has been having on serve. However, Sharapova is arguably the best player on the WTA Tour on a clay court and there were improvements in her performance in the last Round.

It does feel like the match is going to be decided on Sharapova's racquet no matter how well Stosur has been serving and how well she performs in this match. That might pressure Sharapova a bit more if the Stosur serve is on, but I think the Russian will believe her movement is better and has a definite advantage if attacking the Stosur backhand.

Sharapova will hit to that wing with power and can bring up the short balls and I think she will have a slightly more routine time than twelve months ago as I believe she battles through with a 63, 64 win this year.

Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: If this match had been played twelve months ago, I am convinced that Flavia Pennetta would have been a fairly healthy favourite to progress to the Fourth Round. However, Pennetta has not had a great 2015 season to this point and now faces Carla Suarez Navarro who is one of the most consistent performers on the WTA Tour over the last five months.

It does look like Suarez Navarro is finally comfortable with what ability she has and she has put that together to reach the Quarter Final in Stuttgart and Madrid and the Final in Rome. Take out the shocking First Round loss at the Australian Open and Suarez Navarro has reached the Quarter Final or better in every tournament she has entered and the Spaniard should be well rested in this Third Round match having seen Virginie Razzano pull out with an injury in her last match.

Compare that to Flavia Pennetta who had lost in her first match in Madrid and Rome heading into Paris and you can understand why Suarez Navarro is the favourite. I do have to say that the Suarez Navarro serve can sometimes be a real weakness when opponents begin to get a read of her tendencies, and Pennetta has the power to really tee off on that shot.

However I also think Pennetta will be put under pressure by the consistency and accuracy of the Suarez Navarro groundstrokes and I would favour the latter to win the majority of those at this stage of their careers. Despite some Italians being very comfortable on the clay courts, Pennetta has always looked like one such player from that country who prefers the faster surfaces.

I am not convinced she has either the patience or the consistency to beat Suarez Navarro in this Third Round match and I think the Spaniard comes through 63, 75 after sharing a number of breaks of serve.

MY PICKS: Lukas Rosol - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 9.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Gael Monfils Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Win 3-1 @ 3.75 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni + 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

French Open Update: 21-13, + 12.98 Units (68 Units Staked, + 19.09% Yield)

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