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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (October 8th)

It wasn't a great day for the picks on Wednesday as they went 1-2, but it could have been worse if Madison Keys hadn't decided to pull out when down a set. That only makes up for the Sam Groth retirement on Tuesday, but goes back to the point about the injuries on the WTA Tour at this stage of the season.

There is plenty of tennis scheduled for Thursday, but my focus is going to be on the WTA China Open and the completion of the Third Round matches in that event. I did look through the men's matches that are taking place in Tokyo and Beijing, but nothing really stood out there, while all four WTA matches seem to offer some possibilities.

Roberta Vinci - 3.5 games v Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Confidence is such a difference-maker for players at the very top of tennis and Roberta Vinci might be feeling on top of the world despite coming up short in a couple of big tournaments. She reached her maiden Singles Grand Slam Final at the US Open before losing to compatriot Flavia Pennetta and it might have been easy for her to put a period on the 2015 season after that Final.

However, Vinci rode that confidence to a Semi Final in Wuhan last week where she came up just short against Venus Williams who went on to win the tournament and another comfortable win in the Second Round in Beijing has maintained her form.

With the injuries to some of the top names on the WTA Tour who are leading the 'Race for Singapore', Vinci might just get involved in the Tour Finals with another strong week here.

She is facing a confident player in Bethanie Mattek-Sands who has come through the Qualifiers as well as two Rounds in the main draw. The American can bring some real quality to the court, although she is a little too inconsistent to move up the World Rankings, but she is tough to stop when she gets on a roll as she is in on in Beijing.

At the moment it is Vinci who looks like she is rolling the better though and I expect her to keep the momentum going from the last couple of months. The first set is likely to be tight, but I expect Vinci will come through 76, 63.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 2.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: Winning a Grand Slam is the objective of any player that begins playing professional tennis and 99% of players simply won't be able to get to that level. For Flavia Pennetta you have to say it was the perfect time for her to announce her retirement after surprisingly winning the US Open in September, although she will complete her tournaments for the remainder of the season.

There has been some talk of a very small chance she reverses that decision so she can compete at the Olympics next summer, but I do wonder where her focus is this week. It can be hard to dig deep when you've made the decision that the career is over and coming off a big tournament win like she has, but Pennetta has shown her competitive spirit by winning her first two matches in three sets.

While I think Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has underachieved in her career, she is still good enough to get the better of someone who is perhaps looking to the finish line already. The tight wins Pennetta has had this week have come against opponents she would have been expected to blow away and this is the most difficult of the matches she has faced so far.

Pavlyuchenkova has a big game, but her movement is still an issue and I think she can get frustrated when things don't go her way. That can see her fall apart even when in a strong position, but I like her chances to win a set and keep this match competitive. If Pennetta is unfocused, Pavlyuchenkova can beat her for the first time, but I will take the games in this one rather than an outright position.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni + 5.5 games v Garbine Muguruza: The last two weeks have been very productive for Garbine Muguruza after she reached the Final in Wuhan and has then made a very positive start to the tournament in Beijing. However, Muguruza had to withdraw from the Final in Wuhan with an ankle injury and she might find that being worked a little more by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni than it was by Irina Falconi.

Lucic-Baroni is a competitive player and rarely is blown away so I expect her to give Muguruza plenty to think about in this one.

However, I do respect the fact that Muguruza has been in imperious form over the last two weeks and been beating players by wide margins. This is not usually something you can expect from her consistently as the Spaniard plays with very small margins which can easily lead to tighter matches than necessary.

Matches between these players in the past have been competitive too and I think Lucic-Baroni is capable of winning a set in this one which would make the number of games she is getting very appealing. If Muguruza's ankle hasn't responded well to her first match in Beijing, someone like Lucic-Baroni certainly has the capabilities of exposing any injury and this looks a lot of games to be given.

Svetlana Kuznetsova + 4.5 games v Ana Ivanovic: Ana Ivanovic has to be considered one of the most inconsistent players on the Tour who regularly find themselves in the top ten of the World Rankings. On the other hand, Svetlana Kuznetsova might be a two time Grand Slam Champion, but she looks like she might on an irreversible downward trend on the Tour as she has slipped down to Number 33 in the World Rankings.

The two players meet for a Quarter Final berth in Beijing and the precious Ranking points this event can bring them and both have had some solid wins to reach this stage. Ivanovic beat Wuhan Champion Venus Williams in the Second Round while Kuznetsova was knocking off Sloane Stephens, but neither player can point to a lot of form prior to Beijing.

Kuznetsova has seemed to have lost just half a step which affects her ability to get around the court as she did in her prime, but she is still a solid player that can cause problems on her day. She'll have to serve well to remain competitive in this one, although the Russian will know that Ivanovic is never too far away from a mental collapse on court.

It doesn't happen often when Ivanovic faces Kuznetsova and this is a match up she has enjoyed with ten wins from their thirteen previous matches including four in a row. Some of those wins have been close though and Kuznetsova is capable of taking a set in this one which could give Ivanovic a lot of games to cover.

I just think Ivanovic is also coming in off a big win and picking herself emotionally from that win has proven difficult for her in the past. Someone like Kuznetsova is still solid enough to expose any nerves and I like the number of games she is getting in this Third Round match.

MY PICKS: Roberta Vinci - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni + 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-3, - 1.58 Units (12 Units Staked, - 13.17% Yield)

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