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Friday, 9 October 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (October 10th)

I hate days like Friday when you are left looking at the results that have occurred and you see that there are a couple points here and there that could have made all the difference. When it seems to have happened in an amount of matches that could have turned the entire day, it is just a frustration that can't be ignored, a scratch that has to be itched if you will.

After days like that I am glad that the Asian swing is going on because you can have a long period to think about whether the picks were not very good, which in some cases they were, or whether it was just a bit of bad luck going against them. It was a mix of both on Friday, but it has been a good couple of weeks to turn the tide of the last three months so clearly something has been working.

The tournaments have moved onto the Semi Finals at the two sites this week and those will be played on Saturday. The WTA China Open could see a couple more players move into a position close to qualifying for the Tour Finals in Singapore at the end of the month, with the winner here earning a valuable 1000 points and all four Semi Finalists in a strong position if they can go on and take the title home.

The one with the least pressure is Garbine Muguruza who has already earned her place earlier in the week, but that won't mean the Spaniard can ease off the throttle as she looks to pick up a big title in the next couple of days.

All four men's Semi Finals in Tokyo and Beijing look very interesting to watch too so it should be a good day's tennis for the early risers.

Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 games v Gilles Muller: I don't particularly like backing Stan Wawrinka as a favourite to cover big handicaps because he always seems to make life more difficult than it need to be. He is facing Gilles Muller in the Semi Final in Tokyo and this is certainly not a match he can take lightly, even if he has gotten the better of Muller twice already this season.

Both of those matches came earlier in the year and there was one tie-breaker in both which does make this number of games a little more difficult for Stan Wawrinka to cover. Gilles Muller is also playing the big points very well this week as shown when saving another 7 break points from 8 opportunities in his Quarter Final win over Gilles Simon.

That now means Muller has saved 18 of the 19 break points he has faced in Tokyo, although it has to be pointed out that he was fortunate to escape an early break in his Quarter Final win. If he goes behind the match might take a different direction than it eventually did and I am not convinced he can keep Stan Wawrinka away considering how well the Swiss player has played the big points himself.

It is a difficult number of games if Muller continues to serve effectively under pressure though, especially as Wawrinka is never far away from a sloppy service game or two. However, you have to think Muller will lose some of the luck that has been on his side at break point (hitting a net cord on a stretch volley which died over the net early in the match with Simon springs to mind) and Wawrinka has proven he can break the serve on a fast indoor court as he did in Rotterdam.

As long as Wawrinka can look after his side of the court, I like him to move into the Final here with a 76, 63 win.

Benoit Paire + 4.5 games v Kei Nishikori: The home favourite has a chance to avenge arguably his most difficult loss of the 2015 season when Kei Nishikori takes on Benoit Paire in this Semi Final. Nishikori reached the Final of the US Open in 2014, but he was a First Round victim to the Frenchman this season and will be looking to show the home crowd that he is over that loss last month.

I am sometimes a little critical of the Benoit Paire game because I think the player doesn't have the right attitude to back up his skills. He is clearly a good player, but when the mental focus isn't there, Paire is likely to be blown off the court or give very limited resistance to an opponent.

On the other hand, he has shown this week that he is capable of digging deep as he has won three consecutive matches in three setters. Wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios will build some confidence and Paire is capable of giving Nishikori something to think about with this number of games behind him.

It is no surprise that Nishikori is the favourite with two titles in three years in Tokyo and I do think he is the better player. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he needs three sets to see off Paire and that makes this number of games being given to his opponent look very appealing.

Rafael Nadal - 2.5 games v Fabio Fognini: This has been a great year for Fabio Fognini if his season was determined by his match ups with Rafael Nadal as the Italian has won three of their four matches. He came from 2-0 down to beat Nadal at the US Open so there is nothing that Nadal can bring to the court that will intimidate Fognini in this one.

This is not the first time they have met in Beijing either as Nadal had to come from a set down to beat Fognini in 2013 and I am expecting a fascinating match in this Semi Final.

The defeat in the US Open might have been the lowest point for Nadal in what has been a difficult 2015 season, but he has played well for the most part this week. He will need to serve well to keep Fognini on the back foot, although I expect Nadal will be able to have some joy against the Italian's serve too.

It could be tight and competitive throughout, but I think Nadal will get the better of Fognini in this short format compared with the best of five sets at the US Open. Expect plenty of break point chances to be created by both players, but I like Nadal finding his way to a 75, 64 win.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v David Ferrer: After having a long week on the way to the title in Kuala Lumper, David Ferrer deserves a lot of credit for reaching the Semi Final in Beijing. The quality of opponent can't get any higher for Ferrer who has already added some valuable points for the 'Race to London' and may have begun to think about adding plenty more in Shanghai next week.

Ferrer never really strikes me as someone who will look beyond the next match he has, but it can be hard to ignore the points on offer if he goes behind in this one. Novak Djokovic has been in such imperious form that he is unlikely to let Ferrer off the hook if he does move ahead especially as he should be fresh with almost a month rest between the US Open and this tournament.

Djokovic has loved playing in Beijing and loves the conditions here which have seen him win three straight titles in this part of China. He has barely dropped games this week and the 62, 62 win over John Isner is very, very impressive.

He has looked like a player on a mission this week and Djokovic has been dominating both behind serve and on return. While his matches with Ferrer have been competitive in the past as both players have been able to break down the other and their service games, I think fatigue is against Ferrer and I also believe Djokovic has been in sublime form which is working out a perfect storm to lead to a 75, 62 kind of win.

Garbine Muguruza v Agnieszka Radwanska: I didn't read the Quarter Final that Agnieszka Radwanska was involved in, but I am surprised that she is the favourite to beat Garbine Muguruza.

I am wondering if that has something to do with the fact that Muguruza has already qualified for the WTA Finals and Radwanska is still chasing points to ensure a top nine finish.

But that alone can't make sense considering both players are in similar vein of form and Muguruza has won the last three matches against Radwanska. Barring an opening set against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Muguruza has been in very good form this week to back up her appearance in the Wuhan Final last week and she is serving very well too.

When the serve is on, Muguruza is a very dangerous customer and I don't think she allows Radwanska to get away with her second serve as Angelique Kerber did in the Quarter Final. It will be a close match considering Radwanska won the title in Tokyo and has been in strong form this week, but Muguruza has worked out how to play judging by the three straight wins in the head to head and shouldn't be the underdog.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.90 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Benoit Paire + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-9, - 6.92 Units (32 Units Staked, - 21.63% Yield)

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