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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (January 7th)

The tennis matches from Auckland to Doha are played over so many time zones this week that everyone will get an opportunity to catch some live tennis if they so wish to see it.

With the preparation for the Australian Open continuing at pace, a lot of people will be interested to see where the big names stand at this moment with little tennis played since November before the tournament at Melbourne Park begins.

Any doubts about the Men's favourite have been erased by the way Novak Djokovic has been playing so far in Doha and his previous successes at the Australian Open looks to make him a very strong favourite to win that title. That could change in the final few days in Doha, but looks unlikely at this point, although the draw is still going to be interesting in ten days time to see how it will break down for the World Number 1.

The picks went 2-1 yesterday after Djokovic crushed Fernando Verdasco far easier than I imagined he would. Fortunately both Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych were comfortable winners after that to even up the week in terms of winners and losers.

Hopefully that will be pushed on in the final few days and get the season off to a positive beginning.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Anastasia Pavlychenkova: There were a lot of high expectations for the career that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was going to have and I think this is a big year for her. There have been some very good matches produced by the Russian which has shown off her talent, but movement has been an issue and consistency has also been a struggle for Pavlyuchenkova.

If she wants to have the career that people expected for her, Pavlyuchenkova has to kick on in 2016 and try to find that consistency that has been lacking. She has had two impressive wins this week, but facing Angelique Kerber is an altogether different challenge for Pavlyuchenkova as the German has the movement and defensive abilities to extract the mistakes that can be a big hindrance to Pavlychenkova.

Kerber is not just a fine defender, but she has the shot making to quickly turn a rally back into her favour and she has been in pretty strong form this week. Since losing the first set to Camila Giorgi, Kerber has won four straight sets for the loss of just six games in total and she has dominated in recent matches against Pavlyuchenkova having won four of five matches including both last season.

I do think Pavlyuchenkova will have her chances to break serve, but Kerber will also have her own opportunities and I like the latter to come through this one. After a tight battle, I think Kerber wins this one 75, 64 to move into the Semi Final.

Naomi Broady + 4.5 games v Sloane Stephens: For all the controversy of Naomi Broady's win in the Second Round, it might have been a little lost that the British player is making some real waves in Auckland this week. Beating Ana Ivanovic in the First Round following a run through the Qualifiers was impressive, but Broady will have to dig deep to see off Sloane Stephens in this Quarter Final.

I think it will be very difficult for Broady to win this match, especially if the drama of yesterday has taken a toll mentally. It was also a long match against Jelena Ostapenko which coupled with the long week already might mean Broady doesn't have a lot left in tank.

Broady is going up against a talented opponent in Stephens who will be looking for a bounce back year having struggled through much of 2015. The second half of the season was much better for the American and she is a player that I can see moving back up the World Rankings very quickly.

However, it has to be said that Stephens can be very inconsistent and that is where Broady might be able to take advantage and keep this very competitive. She has the power and the mental strength to win a set in this one with confidence high from a strong run in Auckland and I think this looks a lot of games for Stephens to cover.

Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 games v Illya Marchenko: It has already been a strong week for Illya Marchenko who has won two matches in Doha while being the underdog in both. Coming back from a set down to beat David Ferrer is never easy, but he might have caught the defending Champion a little cold and that won't be the case at this stage of the week.

He faces Jeremy Chardy who has been a comfortable winner in both of the matches he has played this week and who has to be extremely confident. The Frenchman looks to be Seeded at the Australian Open and he is a player that can be very effective on the court, although the serve can sometimes become a weakness.

The first serve is very good, but Chardy's second serve can be a weakness at time although Marchenko is going to face the same kind of problem. The player who can dominate on the second serve return is going to be the one to move into the Semi Final this week, but I do think Chardy is the more effective player and likely to be in that position.

Both players have only been broken once this week but Chardy is the better player and I think he will come through 76, 64 after a challenging match.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Kyle Edmund: I am 1-1 picking Tomas Berdych matches this week but he came through for me yesterday, even if he didn't produce the best second set that he would have liked. I do think Berdych should be too good for the young Brit Kyle Edmund even if the latter has put together a strong week which should move him into the top 100 of the World Rankings.

After three pretty comfortable wins, Edmund had to dig very deep to win his Second Round match on Wednesday and I do wonder if that has taken something from him physically. Edmund has also not played anyone of the level of Tomas Berdych and I think bridging that gap will be difficult in this Quarter Final.

Edmund is a talented player that can't be underestimated and he showed that he could potentially be making a real move in the World Rankings with his solid appearance in the Davis Cup Final in November. He pushed David Goffin to five sets having taken the first two sets in that Rubber and so Berdych will have to be aware that being too far short of his best will cost him in this one.

Some of Edmund's better results have come on the slower surfaces and I think fatigue might be an issue for him in the Quarter Final. It won't be easy for Berdych unless he can really improve his serving to keep the pressure on his younger opponent, but I think the top ten player will earn a break more in each set to come through 63, 64 and move into the Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Naomi Broady + 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-3, - 0.70 Units (12 Units Staked, - 5.83% Yield)

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