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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Shanghai Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (October 17th)

Semi Final time in the four tournaments being played on the ATP and WTA Tours this week and it looks like a very good one for the ladies who were chasing a place in the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore. The likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber have all reached the Semi Finals and will be favoured to move into the Final, but Karolina Pliskova will also have something to say when she plays Radwanska in a huge game for both players.

The Shanghai Masters also promised a very good end to the Masters tournament there with all four players left in the draw showing some strong form.

It would be silly of me to go on without mentioning the impressive nature of Rafael Nadal's win over Stan Wawrinka. I didn't see too much of the match because of the time it came onto the court, but the highlights show the Spaniard is definitely looking in a much stronger place mentally and his confidence has improved no end.

There were signs of that at the US Open, but the last two weeks have seen a real improvement and picking up the kind of momentum that could see Nadal better 2015 considerably when the 2016 season rolls around. Wins over Ivo Karlovic and Milos Raonic have to be respected this week, but the total dismantling of Stan Wawrinka was so unexpected and Nadal will now look to get to the Final and have second crack at Novak Djokovic in the space of seven days, assuming the World Number 1 beats Andy Murray in the second Semi Final too.

Rafael Nadal - 2.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: There is no doubting what a fantastic week this potentially is going to be for Rafael Nadal, perhaps the one that people will point back to in the 2016 season as where the former World Number 1 began to return to the top of the Tour. Consistency is still going to be the key for Nadal, but his three wins this week have been fantastic, none more so than the one over Stan Wawrinka when he dropped just three games.

That was a mighty impressive Quarter Final performance from Nadal and he will have to go to the well again when he faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who is also having a strong tournament.

A win over Kevin Anderson has given Tsonga's chances of reaching the World Tour Finals a shot in the arm, while he also won the title in Metz following the US Open. He still needs to keep winning his matches if he is going to sneak into the top eight in the Race for London, but Tsonga has had the more difficult path through to this Semi Final.

With the confidence that Rafael Nadal is clearly feeling at the moment which is producing so much better length on his groundstrokes, I think he will get the better of Tsonga. The Frenchman can hope to serve massively to give himself a fighting chance, but the backhand wing will likely be exposed by the heavy Nadal forehand and I expect the latter breaks him down with a 75, 64 win.

Novak Djokovic - 3.5 games v Andy Murray: Whenever Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray meet on a tennis court, you can guarantee it will be a close match for at least the first couple of sets. Andy Murray has certainly been getting closer to get over the final hurdle before his win over Djokovic at the Canadian Masters Final.

It will take something special for Murray to make it two in a row against Djokovic considering how well the latter has been playing over the last two weeks. Granted the majority of those players he beat were not to the level that Andy Murray can produce, but no one had won more than three games in a single set until Bernard Tomic got to a tie-breaker.

The Australian lost that set and then was beaten 6-1 in the second set and I think Djokovic has his confidence at an extremely high level. He always has to battle hard to knock off Murray, and the British player has been in very strong form himself this week, but it is hard to disregard how dominant Djokovic has been.

I imagine the first set will be closely contested but I do think Djokovic will manage to battle through it and then move away from Murray. It looks a great Semi Final for the neutrals to watch too, but Djokovic continuing his fine form by being too good in a 75, 64 win is my pick.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 3.5 games v Kirsten Flipkens: There has been some good late season form shown by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and she has to be the favourite to go on and win the title in Linz. She hasn't dropped a set this week but now she faces an opponent in Kirsten Flipkens who also is yet to drop a set and looks in decent form herself.

However, Pavlyuchenkova has the bigger serve and the power from the back of the court to see off Flipkens as long as she is able to deal with the variation the Belgian player brings.

That hasn't proved to be a problem for her in the past as Pavlyuchenkova has won the two previous matches between these players. That includes a crushing win in Baku just a couple of months ago and I think she has produced the better tennis of the two players recently which should help the Russian move through to the Final.

I expect Pavlyuchenkova to create the break point chances to win the match and I am expecting her to do that in straight sets. A 64, 64 win for Pavlyuchenkova would see her through comfortably enough and looks the most likely scoreline to come out of the match.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: Two players chasing a place in the WTA Finals meet in a big Semi Final with just a couple of weeks until that tournament begins. Out of the two players, I am finding it hard to look past Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Karolina Pliskova on the recent form that both players have been producing.

She has dominated the head to head with Pliskova having won all four previous matches including one in Tokyo just a couple of weeks ago. All eight sets they have competed have gone to Radwanska who has won the title in Tokyo and made the Semi Final in Beijing which has given her a chance to finish in a top eight position and a place in the Tour Finals.

You can't argue with what Pliskova has produced this week and she has won titles this year, but her failures in the Grand Slams has to be a big disappointment. The serve is effective, but Pliskova plays with such little margin for error that she can suddenly move into a 'cold streak' and fall away in matches.

I think the Radwanska serve gives her a chance to stay competitive in this one, but she will still eventually go down 75, 63 and I will back the Pole to cover.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-8, - 3 Units (32 Units Staked, - 9.38% Yield)

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