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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (January 14th)

The Australian Open Qualifiers began on Wednesday and it was a good day for the likes of Dan Evans and James Ward who won their first match on the road to the main draw.

Getting into the main draw of a Grand Slam through the Qualifiers is some tough work and there is still plenty for both Evans and Ward to do if they are to make it. However, they have to be happy with straight sets win, particularly Evans who beat the Number 1 Seeded player in the Qualifiers, and getting a little more rest in the legs could be a key for the next few days in what are usually tough conditions in Melbourne.

It wasn't just a good day for some of the Qualifiers in action, but also for the picks I made on Wednesday which have improved the weekly totals. A good positive start to the 2016 season was what I was looking for after the end of 2015 and hopefully that can be built upon through the rest of the month at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Not giving too much back is the key for the rest of this week which sees the tournaments concluded on Saturday, while the draw for the Australian Open main draw is now just a couple of days away from being revealed.

The idea at this moment is that the outright picks will go live on Sunday morning, but I am hopeful that it will be earlier than that and I can then pop out the Day 1 Picks at some point on Sunday afternoon.

Things can change though and I do have a busy weekend so hopefully I can get those out before my own times set.

Eugenie Bouchard v Camila Giorgi: If you had told me at the beginning of 2015 that in twelve months time Eugenie Bouchard would enter a tournament where she would be unseeded and face Camila Giorgi as the Number 2 Seed, I would never have believed you. However, the Canadian went through the most difficult year of her career to date with injuries and a loss of form affecting her game, but 2016 has opened with some signs that Bouchard will make a significant move back up the World Rankings.

I was never as high on Bouchard as some of the 'experts' out there, but even I know that her current World Number 48 Ranking is far below where she should be. It was a tough season for Bouchard as she dealt with a lot of criticism for the first time and really struggled under the weight of expectation that had been heaped on her shoulders as the heir apparent to Maria Sharapova at the top of the women's game.

Bouchard is still young and I expect her to come again, while a second consecutive Quarter Final run in preparation for the Australian Open will build some confidence. I expect Bouchard to go even further as she faces the erratic Camila Giorgi who can be unplayable at times, but struggles with her consistency as she has little margin for error in the way she plays the game.

At times I have looked at Giorgi as more than capable of reaching the top 20 of the World Rankings, while others may feel she has the potential to go even higher. Her issue is reining in her game when beginning to makes some errors, but that has not been something Giorgi has been able to do on the court.

While I can see her have more than a couple of moments in the match, I am looking for Bouchard to just batten down the hatches when that happens and eventually gain control of the match. It wouldn't surprise me if this goes the distance, but I think Bouchard goes a step further than in Shenzhen last week and wins this match to move into the Semi Final.

Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: A second consecutive Quarter Final to open the 2016 season would certainly have been something that Grigor Dimitrov will appreciate as he looks to erase what was a disappointing 2015 year for him. Last week it took Roger Federer to end his run, albeit in a tight match, but Dimitrov should have a much better opportunity to move forward against Alexandr Dolgopolov.

You can't take anything away from the talent that Dolgopolov clearly has- he can hit almost any shot he likes, but that also means his decision making can let him down, while Dolgopolov is as erratic as they come.

The Ukrainian is back up to World Number 36 in the Rankings, but his form fluctuates all the time even if he has had a couple of decent looking wins this week. If Dolgopolov is 'on', he can be very, very difficult to play even for the very best players in the world, but far too often he doesn't reach the levels he has shown fleetingly and I think Dimitrov is too good for him in this Quarter Final.

A difference between these players is that Dolgopolov never seems too far away from throwing in an absolute shocker of a service game. That has been an issue for Dimitrov at times too, but Dolgopolov's slashing style and sometimes questionable decision making when it comes to shot selection has given the Bulgarian the slight edge in previous matches between them.

I believe that will be the case again as Dimitrov battles to a 63, 46, 64 win.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Fabio Fognini: The layers were expecting a very tight match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Second Round in Auckland, but the Frenchman showed he is ready for a big 2016 season. I certainly expected it to be closer than it was as Tsonga was dominant behind serve and earned enough joy from the Kohlschreiber delivery to come through in relative ease over two sets.

Now he moves into the Quarter Final where he faces the enigmatic Italian Fabio Fognini who can equally frustrate viewers as well as he can have them drop their jaws in awe of the tennis he produces. There have been some very good matches played by Fognini over the last couple of seasons and he has had considerable success on the Doubles circuit with Simone Bolelli too, but far too often he flatters to deceive.

Tsonga won't mind the match up as he has won all three previous matches and has a serve that can pick up cheap points when they are needed. On the other hand, Fognini is never too far from a meltdown behind his own serve which is much more difficult to redeem on the hard and grass courts compared with the clay courts where Fognini is at his most comfortable.

You can't always predict what you are going to get from the Tsonga return as that remains a big weakness in his game, but when the Frenchman has his eye in he can be tough to stop. Tsonga looked solid enough in his performance against Kohlschreiber to think he can put the Fognini delivery under pressure and I think that will result in a similar win for Tsonga as he had in the Second Round and also a place in the Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Eugenie Bouchard @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-1, + 8.64 Units (14 Units Staked, + 61.71% Yield)

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