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Monday, 18 May 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (May 18th)

Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova both won their respective tournaments in Rome to head into the French Open with momentum and both will have a well earned rest this week to get focused for the next Grand Slam of the season.

Djokovic has been in great form all season and has every chance of winning the title that he craves more than any other- he would have hardened as favourite having won the titles in Monte Carlo and Rome and Djokovic will be expected to win the title in Paris in three weeks time.

The biggest threat to Djokovic may actually be himself- can he cope with the huge expectation on his shoulders to win the title in Paris or will that hinder him at a critical moment and give one of his rivals the chance to knock him off? I'd say that is probably the biggest question going into Roland Garros next week and one I am looking forward to see how it gets answered.

The woman's draw is much more open with the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep leading the way when it comes to the expectation of the fans. However, all four of those players have to hope the draw favours them with some dangerous players like Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Carla Suarez Navarro all capable of beating them if they are off their game and I think it could be the WTA draw which is the more intriguing.

This week is one where the majority of the big name players will be taking a week off to prepare for the Grand Slam coming up and I will be doing the same for the majority of it. However, there are some opportunities to make picks and I will take them where I see them.

It might mean that I miss a day or two during the course of the week if there is nothing I like, while this weekend the concentration will shift to the French Open which is the Grand Slam that gets things kicked off on Sunday.

Joao Sousa - 2.5 games v Joao Souza: This is going to be fun simply to hear how the umpire is going to distinguish between Joao Sousa from Portugal and Joao Souza from Brazil.

Both players will feel the clay courts are their best surfaces, but neither has had much success during the last six weeks although Sousa has at least put together a couple of wins during that time.

On the other hand, Souza has struggled to bring the form to Europe that took him into a couple of long runs during the South American Golden Swing earlier in the season. He has lost six straight matches, including a couple of early losses in the qualifiers, and his confidence has to be in a poor place heading into this tournament.

I don't feel overly comfortable backing Joao Sousa simply because he has to work so hard to hold serve, but I think he has at least put some wins together during this clay court season in Europe and is the better player of the two. As long as Sousa can pressure the Souza serve as expected, he should find a way to come through with a 63, 46, 64 win.

Madison Keys - 2.5 games v Christine McHale: Two young American players meet in the First Round this week and neither will really expect to have a big impact at the French Open despite some positive results on the clay over the last six weeks.

Madison Keys has had two early exits in Madrid and Rome since reaching the Final in Charleston, while Christine McHale reached the Quarter Final in Rome despite having a number of early losses prior to that tournament. McHale was aided by Serena Williams withdrawing from their Third Round match, but four wins in the Italian capital might give her some confidence to take into the remainder of the season.

Both of these players will feel confident in the conditions in Strasbourg having both reached the Semi Final here last season, but both Keys and McHale will be hoping another strong week isn't followed by a First Round exit in Paris.

I like Keys in the match because I think her extra power and ability on the serve will just set things up a little easier for her. Keys can be inconsistent off the ground at times, but she should have enough in her game to force McHale backwards and that should give her the edge in the match and help Keys win this one 64, 64.

Sam Stosur - 3.5 games v Monica Puig: Monica Puig hasn't been in the best form coming into Strasbourg, but it was a similar story for her twelve months ago before she went on to win the title here. It is going to be a difficult task for Puig to defend her title with a very tough First Round match against Sam Stosur and I favour the latter to come through the match.

Ut has been a disappointing clay court season for Stosur too coming into this event as she looks to pick up some form for the remainder of the 2015 season. The Australian has a strong serve, but has failed to back it up effectively from the ground and that has just worn her out at times.

Stosur's losses have come at a higher level than Puig's and I think she has been close in a couple of losses which suggests she isn't so far away from having a decent run somewhere. The winner of this match may feel they can go all the way, but I think Stosur's serve will give her the slight edge in both sets.

Being back in Strasbourg should inspire the defending Champion Puig, but I think Stosur finds a chink in her armour a couple more times than the other way round which leads to a 64, 64 win for the Australian.

MY PICKS: Joao Sousa - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Rome Final11-12, - 4.30 Units (46 Units Staked, - 9.35% Yield)

Season 2015+ 41.99 Units (653 Units Staked, + 6.43% 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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