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Friday, 12 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 12th)

For the second week in a row, two pretty solid days have been followed by a third disappointing one which has knocked down the weekly totals.

I am not happy with the way that has happened as Jeremy Chardy had no right losing his match against Nicolas Mahut despite what the scoreline suggests. He was terrible at almost every big point and that is a real disappointment, while that result going the way it should have would have made a big difference.

It is Quarter Final day on Friday and I do hope there will be a little more luck going for me as I analyse a few of the matches that are taking place through the day across various continents.

Timea Babos + 3.5 games v Roberta Vinci: The run to the US Open Final will be the memorable moment of Roberta Vinci's career and I think she is using that as added belief she can still have an impact on the WTA Tour. The Italian has had a couple of solid runs since the surprise effort in Flushing Meadows, but the consistency is still not quite at a place she would like.

Now she goes into this Quarter Final as a strong favourite to see off Timea Babos, but I think the Hungarian is a dangerous opponent who can give her something to think about. Vinci has won three of the previous four matches between them, but the last one of those was on a clay court and the previous two wins were at a time when Babos was much more inexperienced.

At this moment Babos has developed a decent first serve that can set up her points but she will have to keep control of her errors as Vinci will play with a lot of slice off the backhand wing. That slow down of pace can be an issue for someone like Babos who is very aggressive, but she did win her first match against Vinci last season which came on a faster surface.

I can see this being a tight match with Babos having her success, but Vinci is rightly given the edge in terms of favouritism. However, I think Babos can take a set and that will give her a chance to stay within this number in a battling Quarter Final.

Ana Ivanovic - 4.5 games v Kateryna Kozlova: One of the main reasons I don't back Ana Ivanovic to cover big numbers that often is because her serve can fall apart at any given moment. There is no doubt she is working on the ball toss which is really proven to be an achilles heel for her over the years, but I do like the match up for Ana Ivanovic when she faces Qualifier Kateryna Kozlova.

There are a few things to like about the Kozlova game including the power she is able to generate, but she can be erratic off the ground and that leads to errors. Her run here in St Petersburg will give her World Ranking a significant boost after she was suspended on the Tour last season and her wins over Barbora Strycova and Elena Vesnina have to be respected.

However neither of those players are as talented as Ivanovic and Kozlova will be faced with some significant power from the other side of the court.

As long as Ivanovic can hold her serve together for the majority of this match, she is going to have a very strong chance to dominate proceedings in this one. I like the way Kozlova plays, but she is taking a significant leap up in terms of level of opponent she is facing and eventually I expect Ivanovic to prevail 75, 63 in this one.

Belinda Bencic - 3.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: I am not exactly sure where I stand when it comes to Belinda Bencic- sometimes I think she has the talent to go to the very top of the women's game, others I think she might not have the power to really compete at the business end of the big tournaments on a consistent basis.

The new Swiss Miss is young and very, very talented and I do think her superior movement will help her see off Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in this Quarter Final. The Russian did miss the Fed Cup to get ready for St Petersburg and I have to say that makes her a big threat with the focus she has to do well in her home tournament.

However Pavlyuchenkova will have to serve very effectively as she can really struggle when being forced to go side to side on the court and that has prevented her taking her Junior success to the main Tour.

Bencic did have two confidence boosting wins in the Fed Cup which included a win over Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber and she will have settled into the tournament with her Second Round win over a tough Annika Beck. I will be looking for Bencic to serve well to try and keep Pavlyuchenkova on the back foot in this one and I expect her to find her superior movement leading to a couple of extra break point chances which will eventually result in a 64, 64 win.

Victor Troicki - 3.5 games v Nicolas Mahut: There is no doubting that Nicolas Mahut rode his luck in his Second Round win over Jeremy Chardy, but backing that up is going to be far from easy when he takes on Victor Troicki. If Mahut is as generous as handing out the break points as he was against Chardy, I don't think he will be able to earn the same level of fortune to save those as he clearly did at times on Thursday.

Victor Troicki has had two solid weeks on the Tour and my concerns that the long run in Sofia would take a toll should no longer be there having reached the later stages here. He hasn't had to spend too long on court and Mahut also had to come through the Qualifiers which means he has had less time to recover physically.

The serve is all important when you get the likes of Troicki and Mahut on the court and it proved to be the case for both on Thursday. We know both are going to have success behind the first serve, but it is the second serve that will be the key to this one as both Troicki and Mahut will have time to get on the front foot in the rally off that shot.

When they met last month, it was Troicki who was much more effective behind the second serve while the first serve points percentage won was similar. That might be the case here in Rotterdam too and I like Troicki to come through 76, 63 in this Quarter Final.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: It has been a few seasons since Marin Cilic and Philipp Kohlschreiber have met in a competitive match and I think there has been more of a shift than the layers believe.

While Kohlschreiber looks to have come through the two matches he has played with a little more ease than Marin Cilic has come through his own, I also think the German has enjoyed the better draw.

You know there will be plenty of big serving in this one and both players should have considerable success behind the first serve. I do think Cilic is going to be able to move Kohlschreiber around the court a little more on the second serve and I do think the latter has lost half a step now as his career begins to wind down.

I do think Cilic has had a disappointing start to 2016, but also think a couple of his losses could easily have gone his way with a little more luck on the court. This match should be a fun one to watch with some very good shot making from both sides of the court, but I think the Kohlschreiber second serve might let him down at big moments and allow the Croatian to move into the Semi Final behind a 76, 64 win.

Gael Monfils - 3.5 games v Alexander Zverev: A mental collapse in the second set is all I can think of when it comes to figuring out what happened to Gael Monfils in his last match with Borna Coric. There is no doubt the youngster picked up his play, but Monfils was struggling very much with the mental side of the game and now he has to get ready to play another potential star of the future.

There is an edge for Monfils having had a day of rest between his Second Round match and this Quarter Final. That edge was highlighted even more when noticing how much time Zverev had to spend on the court to see off Gilles Simon on Thursday and I do wonder if he will have enough in the tank for this one.

Zverev has played some good tennis over the last couple of weeks and he has been solid at the big moments, but he will be drawn into another grinding match here and I think that is going to be a difference maker. There is only so many times you can dig deep and Monfils is playing well enough this week in Rotterdam to think he has a genuine chance of winning a title.

I have been frustrated by Zverev and his ability to hold on in his matches last week, but I think physically he will be pushed to the limit again in this one and I like Monfils' chances of coming through 64, 64.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Nicolas Almagro: If this match was being played a couple of seasons ago, I would imagine that the layers would have this a little closer on the prices. However Nicolas Almagro has been struggling to get back to the level he had before an injury he suffered which has affected him over the last eighteen months although the Spaniard has looked very strong this week.

In saying that, Almagro hasn't played someone who is as strong as Tsonga and the latter is a much better clay court player than many would initially imagine. I think the slower courts give Tsonga a little more time to set his shots up and he showed in his Second Round match that the conditions in Buenos Aires might very well suit him.

Tsonga crushed Leonardo Mayer, but I think Almagro's serve can be a little more effective when he is firing than Mayer's. That will give Almagro a chance to hang with Tsonga, but ultimately I think he will come up a little short at key moments in this one which will allow Tsonga to pull away for the victory.

They might not have played for a while, but Tsonga's six wins from six against Almagro will allow him to settle into this one and I think he comes through 64, 64 for a place in the Semi Finals.

Pablo Cuevas + 4.5 games v David Ferrer: The last Quarter Final in Buenos Aires looks like it could be the best one of the bunch as Pablo Cuevas takes on David Ferrer.

Both players have enjoyed the South American Golden Swing in the past and both have come through their matches fairly comfortably. Pablo Cuevas has had the more impressive wins and should be battle hardened to take on Ferrer who has won both previous matches they have played, both on the clay courts.

The Cuevas serve is going to be key- he has to get a decent percentage of first serves in play to keep the pressure on Ferrer as the Spaniard will look to pounce if he is seeing too many second serves. I like the way Ferrer battles, but I am convinced he is on the way down in his career although I do think he will ultimately still prevail.

However these days Ferrer can throw in more sloppy sets than we have been used to seeing from him and Cuevas is more than capable of taking his first set against him. I will look for Cuevas to try and stay in this one mentally which has been his undoing in the past, most notably in the third set against Rafael Nadal last season, but this still looks too many games for Ferrer to cover if it does go into a final set decider as I am anticipating.

MY PICKS: Timea Babos + 3.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Belinda Bencic - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Victor Troicki - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas + 4.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-7, + 1.78 Units (32 Units Staked, + 5.56% Yield)

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