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Monday, 25 January 2016

Australian Open Tennis Day 9 Picks 2016 (January 26th)

The most frustrating element of this tournament for me so far is catching players when they are ill/injured which flares up in matches despite being in a strong position.

It happened again on Day 8 and this has been the worst Grand Slam performance I have had by a long, long way. Sometimes it is the way it goes and I hope this is the low point of the 2016 season for the tennis picks which had opened the new season pretty effectively.

There is some good news and that is four out of four of the outright picks remain on course.

If those can all 'win', it will change the feeling coming out of the tournament, but there is still some way to go before that happens and I will just keep my fingers crossed.

The Quarter Final line up has been completed in both Men's and Women's draws and I think the business end of the Australian Open looks in good shape.

We have some top matches to look forward to, but the potential Finals that we are going to see from here look like they could be a lot of fun to watch. None of the players will be looking beyond the next match up on their schedule, but us fans can begin to get excited about the matches that have already been set and those that are set to go.

Roger Federer Win 3-1 v  Tomas Berdych: Roger Federer might have won all three matches against Tomas Berdych very easily in 2015, winning each without dropping a set and losing just sixteen games in six sets played.

That is part of the reason Federer is a big favourite to win this match and move into the Semi Final as well as the stunning performance he produced against David Goffin. With Tomas Berdych needing four sets to see off Nick Kyrgios and five sets to see off Roberto Bautista Agut, the layers are convinced Federer wins this one fairly easily, although I am not so sure it will be that straight-forward.

First off Berdych has enjoyed playing Federer in Grand Slams, winning their last two meetings at this level and before that having a 2-0 lead here at the Australian Open before going down in five sets. Surprisingly this is the first time they are playing in a Grand Slam since the US Open in 2012, but the courts on the Rod Laver Arena might help Berdych get the most out of his game as he did when demolishing Rafael Nadal at this stage last season.

The match up with Federer is one that Berdych has to be confident about if he is serving well and not making a host of unforced errors off the forehand. I expect that will help him give Federer plenty of problems to solve, but I do think the World Number 3 will eventually solve those and get away from Berdych.

If this is ended in straight sets I will be shocked, but Federer is good enough to knuckle down and make enough plays to win in four and potentially set up a blockbuster Semi Final against Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic - 6.5 games v Kei Nishikori: The big question mark surrounding Novak Djokovic is how he is going to be feeling after being pushed to five sets by Gilles Simon in the Fourth Round. However he managed to do the same against Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon last year before going on to win that tournament and it is hard to see Novak Djokovic putting together back to back erratic performances at the Grand Slam level.

I think the other professionals on Tour have made it clear to the media that Simon is one of these frustrating figures on the Tour that can make anyone look bad. He is a hard worker who will use a lot of junk tennis to exploit errors and really Simon is one of the few that is very effective at playing that style.

Kei Nishikori will work hard on the court and his movement will mean he can get a lot of balls back in play, but he is someone that will want to hit his own winners so that is a clear difference between the Japanese star and Simon. He was very good in his win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but has struggled when playing Novak Djokovic since shocking him in the US Open Semi Final of 2014.

Many of those sets have seen Novak Djokovic knuckle down and earn double breaks of serve to pull away and I think he will be able to do something similar in this one. I wouldn't be surprised if Nishikori stole a set when he hits a purple patch, but Djokovic will pressure him a lot on the return of serve and I think that will help him get enough games on the board to cover this number in a winning effort.

The couple of days of rest is going to be massive for Djokovic who also has the benefit of playing in a night session before on the Rod Laver Arena. He has recovered from five setters and produced his best before and I think Djokovic covers this number in a three or four set win.

Agnieszka Radwanska-Carla Suarez Navarro Over 20.5 games: I was a little surprised that Agnieszka Radwanska has been set as a fairly big favourite to beat Carla Suarez Navarro in this match. It has all the hallmarks of a match that is potentially going to need three sets to decide which of the players is moving through to the Semi Final with neither player having a dominant serve and there likely going to be a number of breaks of serve both ways.

Both players had to dig deep to get through their Fourth Round matches and there are some similarities with the way both will look to play. Both Radwanska and Suarez Navarro have decent movement around the court with the former having a bit more variation in her game, while Suarez Navarro has the stand out shot from the backhand wing.

The last two matches between these players have gone the distance including at the Miami Masters last season and I think there will be some nerves in this one. Radwanska has opened the season in the better form with the set dropped in the Fourth Round the first one she has dropped in the 2016 season, but Suarez Navarro is capable of digging deep and battling back even when she falls behind.

It has all the makings of a tight couple of sets that sees both players take one and the decider could really go either way so backing this match to surpass the total games being asked is the call.

Serena Williams - 4.5 games v Maria Sharapova: I have to give Maria Sharapova some credit- most players who have lost seventeen times in a row to an opponent might feel a little intimidated by facing that player, but Sharapova is said to be the one player that really doesn't take too much notice.

I don't know if I would be able to do that if I am being perfectly honest, but Sharapova will come into this Quarter Final against Serena Williams truly expecting a different result than what we have become accustomed to. I am sure Sharapova believes, but seventeen losses in a row is hard to ignore.

That includes a victory for Serena Williams in the Australian Open Final last year when Sharapova somehow hung on to take the second set into the tie-breaker. However, that match wasn't as close as the 63, 76 scoreline would suggest and it was only Sharapova's heart that kept her in a match where she was constantly under pressure from Serena's power and accuracy.

Since 2011, Serena Williams would be 10-2 in matches against Sharapova when it comes to covering what looks a big number on paper. The match up is a good one for Williams because Sharapova doesn't serve as consistently as she does and doesn't have the power to really match her, but that is the only real plan in her game.

Watch out for Sharapova throwing in a few more drop shots in this one as something she has been working on in the off-season, but she has to raise her performance by three or four levels from her Fourth Round win to make this competitive. If Williams keeps serving as well as she has in this tournament, I think Sharapova will be broken down by the mental pressure of trying to stay in the match and I believe the Number 1 Seed wins this one 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Roger Federer Win 3-1 @ 3.75 William Hill (1 Unit)
Novak Djokovic - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska-Carla Suarez Navarro Over 20.5 Total Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 23-41, - 36.34 Units (124 Units Staked, - 29.30% Yield)

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