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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Australian Open Tennis Day 10 Picks 2016 (January 27th)

With just days remaining at the Australian Open, this could easily become an indoor tournament now the weather is set to take a turn for the worse in Melbourne. The next few days are supposed to be very rainy and I do wonder if that is going to give Novak Djokovic, the best indoor player in the world, another advantage.

The first two Semi Finals were set on Tuesday and you have to be excited about both even if we will have two clear favourites.

Agnieszka Radwanska might be able to play enough variation in her tennis to give Serena Williams something to think about, while the match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic is always one that the fans will be looking forward to, especially at this Stage of a Grand Slam.

Roger Federer also helped the first of three outright picks come in from the beginning of the tournament as he won the second quarter of the draw. The remaining three outright picks are also still in a position to produce some more winners and ensure that this tournament is not a complete write off and putting me in a big hole for the season.

Day 10 of the Australian Open sees the remaining four Quarter Finals played and it is an intriguing one with a couple of surprise names left in the draws. The Australian Open through the years has a tendency to produce these surprises as the early placement in the new season can see some of the other players a little undercooked, although it still looks like the cream will rise to the top for the Finals at the end of the week.

With just five days left of the first Grand Slam of the season, let us all hope for a strong set of matches to enjoy.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v David Ferrer: There was little doubt that the last few days were going to be emotional for Andy Murray with him being days away from becoming a father for the first time. That has been coupled with the collapse of his father-in-law Nigel Sears during the Ana Ivanovic match on Sunday, but fortunately Sears is on his way back to the United Kingdom looking to be over the worst of his situation.

After the tough straight sets win over Bernard Tomic, Murray admitted there had been a draining amount of emotions leading up to the match, but he has got through and should be in a better place mentally in this one. The match up with David Ferrer should suit Murray too having won five in a row against the Spaniard and only dropping a couple of sets in that run.

Anyone with anything but respect for David Ferrer have to be criticised- he has made the most out of his game and with very little sign he is slowing down. Off season changes in the racquet haven't affected his game and Ferrer has come through four Rounds without dropping a set, although this is by far the greatest challenge he will have faced.

This is a match where Ferrer will know that Murray is capable of rallying with him as long as is needed while he has a definite edge when it comes to the first serve and the backhand wing. It has seen Murray wear him down in recent matches between them and I think we will see something similar in this one, although I won't be that surprised at all if there are a number of breaks of serve for both men.

Even then, Murray should have the majority of chances and will be much better prepared mentally knowing Nigel Sears is over the worst. In what will be a match seeing some long rallies, I eventually believe Murray will come through and I can see a double break of serve in a set being the reason he gets over this number.

Gael Monfils-Milos Raonic over 41.5 total games: This is a Quarter Final where both Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic have to believe they are capable of winning and that could make it very, very interesting. The layers have Raonic has a fairly confident favourite, but I am not so sure it will be so straight forward if Monfils serves well especially as the latter should be in stronger physical shape.

The Fourth Round win over Stan Wawrinka has to have taken something emotionally from Raonic too having dropped a 2-0 lead in set to eventually prevail in five sets. While the Brisbane Champion has looked like he has added some creases to his game, he has perhaps ridden his luck a little to have got past Tommy Robredo in straight sets in the First Round and Victor Troicki in straight sets in the Third Round.

Both Robredo and Troicki don't have a first serve like Monfils which can get the Frenchman out of trouble at times, nor do they have the physical athleticism to get around the court like Monfils. That athleticism will see him make a few more balls than Raonic is expecting and it can help him exploit mistakes, although I would love to see Monfils perhaps being a little more aggressive with his groundstrokes as many others would too.

It would be a mistake to allow Raonic to dictate the rallies as he has shown a confidence to get to the net and put away volleys if he needs to, while Monfils needs to serve well to keep the Canadian at bay.

Monfils does lead the head to head, but that is almost irrelevant with the last meeting coming in 2013 and Raonic a much improved player all around since then. This does have the makings of a tight match though and I would be surprised if either player is able to come through in straight sets which makes this number of games seem appealing.

With the serving that both are capable of, I would not be surprised to see a couple of tie-breakers being played and that should make it possible for this one to go over this number of games as long as it goes to a fourth set at least. I will be looking for the first two sets to be split between the players and there is a real chance this goes to five with the way both Monfils and Raonic have been playing so I will take the total games on.

Victoria Azarenka - 4.5 games v Angelique Kerber: The opening Quarter Final on the Rod Laver Arena looks the like the one that is most likely going to produce the Women's Finalist from the bottom half of the draw. Both Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber will be big favourites to win their Semi Final which is played on Thursday, but they have to focus on the more immediate task of this Quarter Final.

It is no surprise that Azarenka is a healthy favourite to win the match having dismissed Kerber for the loss of just four games while winning the Brisbane title, and that win also improved her head to head to 6-0 against the German. However, Kerber gave Azarenka all she could handle in a three set defeat at the US Open last September so the former two-time Australian Open Champion has to be on her game.

So far, so good for Azarenka in 2016 though and she has won all nine matches she has played this season with Barbora Strycova getting the 'closest' by winning six games in the Fourth Round here. Azarenka has looked confident and strong through the first three weeks of the season and Kerber's only real hope is to frustrate her and find a way to force a number of unforced errors from her game.

She has some hope doing that as one of the strongest movers on the Tour, but Kerber is still working on getting more out of her serve which remains something of a liability. It hasn't really been exploited since her tough First Round win so Kerber will be feeling good about where her game is, but this has always been a tough match up for her.

Some of the matches in the past have been very competitive from these two as Kerber does have the ability to get a lot of balls back in play. However, Azarenka is in tremendous form at the moment and is serving and returning so effectively that it is hard to see this going much differently from their match in the Brisbane Final. I do think Kerber adds a couple more games on the board, but ultimately Azarenka will be too strong for the German and this number of games she is being asked to cover.

Johanna Konta - 3.5 games v Shuai Zhang: The last time Johanna Konta and Shuai Zhang met was also in a Quarter Final, but that was back in 2013 and at a far different level to a Grand Slam. There will be nerves because I am not sure either player will really get a better chance to reach a Grand Slam Semi Final, and that will obviously make it very tense in this match.

I am a little concerned with the emotional and physical effort Konta had to put into her Fourth Round win over Ekaterina Makarova. She admitted 'she left it all out there' after that match and I do wonder if a day of rest is enough to get her prepared, although Konta has been so mentally strong over the last six months.

And it isn't like Shuai Zhang had a straight-forward win in the Fourth Round, although her final set decided wasn't as taxing as Konta's. Zhang was fortunate that Madison Keys suffered a big time injury that restricted her completely in the last couple of sets, but Konta looks healthy and I think this is a match the British Number 1 can win and cement herself into a top 32 World Ranking.

One key is the way Konta has been serving- her opponents have struggled to win a large percentage of points on the return, the best being 38% from Makarova in the Fourth Round. Coupled with Konta getting a lot of joy from return games, it is no surprise that she has protected serve for the most part during the last ten days.

Compare that to Zhang who has allowed opponents to win at least 40% of the returning points from the first three Rounds but then held an injured Keys to 35%. It has also been a very, very long tournament for Zhang having come through the Qualifiers and I think Konta will have an edge in this match.

Expect to see some breaks of serve, but ultimately I think Konta will have enough to come through this one in straight sets which sees her cover this number.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Stan James (2 Units)
Gael Monfils-Milos Raonic Over 41.5 Total Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Stan James (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 25-43, - 35.86 Units (131 Units Staked, - 27.37% Yield)

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