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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Shanghai Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (October 14th)

The tennis season might be winding down, but that doesn't mean there isn't time for more surprising results and not many would surprise more than Albert Ramos beating Roger Federer in the Second Round in Shanghai.

Federer was the defending Champion coming into the tournament and would have wanted a deep run to try and earn back his World Number 2 Ranking, but that looks unlikely now with Andy Murray only defending a Third Round run here and likely to build a big enough lead to maintain his position going into the 2016 season.

That will be of importance when it comes to the Australian Open draw in January as Federer could now be forced to play Novak Djokovic in the Semi Final rather than having the chance to meet him in the Final as he has in the last two Grand Slam events. I don't think it is a particular worry for Federer who will likely be at his best in the second half of the season as he was this year as he looks to add another Grand Slam title to the seventeen he has previously won.

At this stage of his career, the World Ranking will look after itself and Federer doesn't really pay as much attention to that as he does in trying to win a Slam.

It is a disappointing loss for Federer, but the players chasing their place in London for the World Tour Finals have all moved through and remain alive in Shanghai. Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hold the edge with their places in the Third Round secured, but Richard Gasquet, John Isner, Milos Raonic, Kevin Anderson and Gilles Simon will all be hoping to join them on Wednesday.

Nick Kyrgios + 3.5 games v Kei Nishikori: Nick Kyrgios is a controversial figure on the ATP Tour at the moment, but you can't deny that he brings in the crowds who want to see what he is going to do next. He still has to harness the talent he clearly has in the correct way to really push on as a true contender for the big titles on the Tour and there is no doubting how tough this Second Round match against Kei Nishikori will be.

Consistency and speed around the court are the big attributes that Nishikori has, while he can also be a decent enough returner to give Kyrgios something to think about. Both players are off disappointing three set losses to the same player, Benoit Paire, in Tokyo, but both have also shown some decent form which makes this a very interesting opening match in Shanghai.

Kyrgios had a very impressive First Round win which means he should be very aware of the kind of conditions in Shanghai this year, while his serve does give him a chance to run through some service games very quickly. He can sometimes play the low percentage shot that will get him into trouble against someone like Nishikori who will thrive on keeping the ball in play and wearing down opponents.

However, I also think Kyrgios is flashy enough to hit a few winners off the return of serve and earn his break point chances in this one too. As long as Kyrgios remains mentally focused, which is certainly not always the case, I think he can win at least a set in this one and that might make this number of games being received too appealing to ignore.

David Ferrer - 3.5 games v Bernard Tomic: I like one Australian youngster to make a match of it on Wednesday, but I think the other in action will have a more difficult day in the office. Bernard Tomic might have beaten David Ferrer when they last met earlier in the season, but the latter has looked in very good form of late and has to be favoured.

Ferrer might be coming off a 62, 63 loss to Novak Djokovic, but no other player won more games than him against the World Number 1 in Beijing and Ferrer had also won the title in Kuala Lumper the week before. After missing a large chunk of the season with an injury, the fact that the Spaniard is still one of the favourites to book a place at the World Tour Finals shows how well he has done when actually out on court.

The defeat to Djokovic is understandable and Ferrer has been a pretty convincing winner in the other matches he has played the last couple of weeks. When Ferrer is in this kind of form, someone like Bernard Tomic can have a difficult task in front of them to slow him down.

I think Tomic is talented, but he gets too comfortable becoming involved in rallies and I can't say I could favour him to win enough of those against Ferrer. Tomic also doesn't make full use of his height when it comes to the serve and I like Ferrer's chances of getting involved in rallies and eventually taking charge of those which will result in a 75, 64 kind of win for him and another step towards the World Tour Finals.

Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v Jack Sock: A strong week in Shanghai will likely be enough for Tomas Berdych to earn his place in the World Tour Finals and I don't think an early exit in Beijing is too much to worry about. Just two days prior to that loss, Tomas Berdych was winning a delayed Final in Shenzhen so it wasn't a big surprise he was off his game against Pablo Cuevas.

There are no such excuses this week as Berdych would have had plenty of time to recover his energy levels after the early defeat in Beijing. He has been in solid form having won Shenzhen without dropping a set, but early defeats have been something that Berdych has had to deal with in the two tournaments around that title win.

He will have to be on his game if he is going to beat Jack Sock, a player that is perhaps still flying under the radar for casual fans. The serve and big forehand combination is a dangerous one, but Sock's backhand is still a liability at times and that is where the consistent Berdych will have his joy in this match.

Both players will rely on a big serve to set up their service games, but I think Berdych will have enough in the locker to force rallies to go towards the Sock backhand and I like him to find a couple of breaks in a 64, 64 win.

Milos Raonic - 2.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: It was a disappointing loss for Milos Raonic in Beijing last week which might be the fatal blow to his chances of reaching the World Tour Finals. However, Raonic knows there is still a chance for him if he can have three strong tournaments to finish the season beginning with this one in Shanghai.

The Masters events means there is very rarely an 'easy' opening match for the Seeds as they receive a bye into the Second Round. That means they play an opponent who is ready to compete in the conditions and Roberto Bautista Agut is consistent enough to give any player off their game trouble on the court.

However, Bautista Agut is a fairly simple player and that is usually not enough to beat the very best players on the Tour. He has lost his two previous matches against Milos Raonic including a 62, 76 defeat in St Petersburg last month and it is tough for the Spaniard who has to work hard to hold serve compared with Raonic.

That scoreboard pressure builds up and I think Raonic will find a way to earn break points and eventually get through the Spaniard here 76, 64.

Dominic Thiem v Feliciano Lopez: I am a big fan of Dominic Thiem and I am expecting him to push on up the World Rankings next year after a successful 2015 season. He does need to improve on some surfaces, particularly grass, but Thiem has the all court game that certainly looks like producing a top ten player on the Tour and perhaps even more.

He has a big Second Round match against Feliciano Lopez who reached the Quarter Final at the US Open and then the Final in Kuala Lumper so clearly a player in form. However, it is Thiem who has won the three previous matches between the players including both in 2015 and I think he can produce enough quality tennis to maintain that run of wins.

Consistency is still an issue for Thiem who has perhaps lost to some opponents that I might not consider he should be at this stage of his career. I don't think Lopez is a definitely a player he should be beating, but Thiem likes to raise his level against the better players too and I do think he can come through this one in three sets.

Lopez has been in some good form and can be a very dangerous opponent when he is serving well, but Thiem has enjoyed this match up and I'll back him to make it through to the Third Round.

Sam Stosur - 4.5 games v Monica Puig: It hasn't been the most productive part of the season for Sam Stosur, but I still think the veteran Australian can prove too good for Monica Puig in this Second Round match in Hong Kong.

This has regularly been a good match up for Stosur who has beaten Puig three times since the beginning of the 2014 season and she has never lost more than four games in a match in those wins. The strengths of the Stosur game are clear to everyone, but it clearly is a tough proposition for Puig whose defence isn't really good enough on the court.

When she gets on the front foot, Puig is a dangerous player, but Stosur's serve makes it tough for her to get forward on that shot. Puig's game is also very low percentage and that means she is more likely to make mistakes that Stosur can then thrive upon and consolidate with her own serve.

The numbers don't lie when these players meet and the fact is that Puig has won just 2 breaks of serve in her three matches against Stosur. The Australian has won at least 54% of the points on the Puig serve in all of those matches, while Puig has failed to surpass 35% against the Stosur serve.

Neither player can really point to having much more confidence than the other on recent form and I think it might end up being similar to previous matches with Stosur winning this one comfortably enough.

MY PICKS: Nick Kyrgios + 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 2.5 Games @ 1.87 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-0, + 3.42 Units (4 Units Staked, + 85.5% Yield)

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