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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (October 1st)

It was a disappointing Wednesday for the tennis picks as they went 1-3 to drop this week into a negative, but there is time to turn that around if the last couple of days are much more positive.

The Second Round matches in Kuala Lumper and Shenzhen on Thursday, while the tournament in Wuhan has reached the Quarter Finals.

Johanna Konta is still involved in that event and that means she is now going to move into the position of Great Britain's Number 1 player, which is astonishing considering where she was prior to Eastbourne in June. I said at the time that she was a lot of untapped potential in the Konta game because of how solid she is off the ground and she gets a decent amount out of the first serve, but even I am surprised that she has made such a move up in a short period of time.

Winning matches does breed confidence, but I have been more impressed by how well Konta has handled the occasion when facing some of the biggest names on the WTA Tour. Her performance from 5-1 down in the final set to beat Simona Halep in the Third Round just shows how much strength Konta has mentally and I am expecting a big season from her in 2016.

That doesn't mean I am predicting Grand Slam wins or anything like that, but I can see Konta getting very close to the top twenty in the World Rankings if she can handle the pressure that will come with an improved Ranking. It is a different matter when players now see you as a scalp and being able to bring the high level week after week can be tough, especially when things take a downward turn as they will do.

However, I have big expectations for Konta and think she is only scratching the surface as to where her game can go in the next twelve months- a goal I would set for her is to build on the last couple of months and try to get to Wimbledon as one of the top 32 Seeds. That would be a huge achievement and one Konta should be proud of if she does reach it and I think she is more than capable of doing that.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Radek Stepanek: Two veterans of the ATP Tour meet in the Second Round in Kuala Lumpur as David Ferrer and Radek Stepanek play for the right to reach the Quarter Final. I have doubts about both players for different reasons, but I think David Ferrer will have a little too much in his game for Stepanek and win this match.

What are my doubts about Ferrer? Very simply the Spaniard came back for the US Open after a couple of months off the Tour with an injury, and he had a couple of decent wins before finding Jeremy Chardy too good. That lack of competitive tennis since June has to be a concern in any tournament he enters as Ferrer looks to reach the World Tour Finals again, but there are issues surrounding Stepanek too.

Stepanek missed a large chunk of the opening of the 2015 season having missed the end of the 2014 season too and he has struggled to get his form back up to the level expected. While he does have a good win from the First Round in Kuala Lumpur, Stepanek has struggled against the better players on the Tour since he returned.

I imagine both players will have their chances to break serve in this one, but I think Ferrer is the better player and can wear down his opponent. Ferrer is unlikely to be distracted by any of the antics Stepanek can produce on the court and I think he finds a break more in each set to come through 64, 63.

Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 games v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova: The first couple of wins for Garbine Muguruza this week in Wuhan have come in dominating fashion for the Spaniard and I think she can make it three in a row in that manner.

Confidence is a big factor in the kind of performances that Muguruza can produce and she has struggled for consistency since reaching the Final at Wimbledon in July.

I actually quite like what Anna Karolina Schmiedlova brings to the court and she battles hard which makes her a tough opponent for anyone to face. She has reached the Semi Final in Seoul during this Asian swing, but that means Schmiedlova has played plenty of tennis compared with Muguruza who was beaten relatively early in Tokyo.

It does come down to whether Muguruza can maintain the power hitting she has to blow away Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic in the last two Rounds. That has been tough for her to do for a long enough period in the past and a major factor why it took the Spaniard so long to reach the top ten in the World Rankings, but I think she will enjoy the match up against Schmiedlova and win this one 64, 63.

Venus Williams - 3.5 games v Johanna Konta: For all I have said about how much I admire Johanna Konta and praised her for her move up the World Rankings, this might be the most difficult match she has played over the last few months. It might be funny to suggest that considering Konta has played the World Number 2 Simona Halep just yesterday and also beaten the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Garbine Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic in the last couple of months.

Playing someone who is Ranked outside of the top twenty might be a strange pick for this being Konta's most difficult match, but Venus Williams has a different aura around her than those players I have mentioned.

This is a multiple Grand Slam Champion and Venus Williams is in fantastic form with three very solid wins this week in Wuhan to follow up her Quarter Final run at the US Open. She isn't as consistent as he was in her World Number 1 days, but Venus Williams has the big shots and ability to get to the net that can trouble Konta who won't have seen a style like this too much.

Playing big name players hasn't fazed Johanna Konta since Wimbledon, but I think the British player comes up just a little short in this one against Venus Williams who hasn't dropped a set this week. It will be a battle at times, but I think Venus Williams wins this one 75, 64.

Coco Vandeweghe + 5.5 games v Angelique Kerber: Angelique Kerber has surprised me twice this week by winning one match with a little more difficulty than expected and another with more comfort than I anticipated.

The German is a very solid player and has plenty of confidence which makes her very dangerous as she gets deeper into a tournament. Kerber can defend effectively and she can quickly turn defence into attack which is going to put the pressure on Coco Vandeweghe, especially as the American can become frustrated when things are not going her way.

The backhand wing is a weakness that has prevented Vandeweghe from really kicking on up the World Rankings, but she is a player that thrives on the confidence of winning matches. She has battled through three Rounds by winning final set deciders and I do wonder if she has left something physically out on the court.

If she falls behind to Kerber I am concerned that Vandeweghe will mentally lose focus and almost check out of the match, but if the American serves well I like her chances to stay within this number. Kerber is still the favourite to reach the Semi Final on her current form, but this could be the second really tough match she has this week to earn her place in that final four.

MY PICKS: David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 3.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)

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