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Monday, 15 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 15th)

The Tennis Tour moves on to a number of new stops this week after some strong performances from surprising players last week.

Martin Klizan and Dominic Thiem were both winners of events in Rotterdam and Buenos Aires that I don't think many would have expected of them, but the big tournaments keep coming as some of the bigger names look for a response.

The biggest news of the week, at least for me as a fan, is the return of Juan Martin Del Potro in Delray Beach. I just hope he has the fortune of being able to finish his career on his own terms and that means avoiding another major injury that has prevented Del Potro from really pushing on as his potential suggested and I would hate to see him have to retire.

It is a long road back to the very top, but Del Potro wants to play and I hope he is over his injuries and able to compete in the next few years.

Camila Giorgi - 1.5 games v Andrea Petkovic: The WTA tournament in Dubai is a very strong event so you can't be surprised when you see First Round matches like this one. Both Camila Giorgi and Andrea Petkovic are players that will feel they should be inside the top 20 in the World Rankings by the end of the season, although 2016 could have opened up more effectively than it has.

Petkovic is trying to snap a three match losing run, while Giorgi managed to end her own losing streak during the Fed Cup as both players have had a week off from the Tour.

There is plenty to like about the attack off the ground that both Petkovic and Giorgi can produce, but I do think the match is more on the racquet of the Italian. Her first serve can be very good, but Giorgi has to make sure she doesn't offer too much encouragement for Petkovic by handing out double faults for fun.

I do think Petkovic is the more reactive player on the court and that Giorgi looks to push the tempo a little more and that aggression can pay off in the usually quick conditions we see in Dubai. It might need three sets to separate the players, but Giorgi at least comes into the match having snapped her losing run and I think she will be a little too good for Petkovic in this First Round match.

Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 games v Coco Vandeweghe: It has been a few weeks since Coco Vandeweghe last played on the Tour and I do wonder if she has been able to rebuild some lost confidence. The American hasn't begun 2016 in the manner she would have liked having also had a disappointing last few months in 2015 following her Quarter Final run at Wimbledon.

Now she faces Karolina Pliskova who is much more consistent than Vandeweghe and has the power to counter punch her opponent in this one. The serve is going to be all important for both players as that sets them up for easier points, and being able to hold serve, but I think Pliskova has an edge with that shot.

I definitely believe Pliskova is the better player off the ground as Vandeweghe is the kind of player that can make a lot of unforced errors as soon as the rally goes beyond four shots played. Her backhand is also significantly weaker than the forehand and Pliskova is capable of hitting a heavy ball into that wing to expose errors.

Pliskova might have had another relatively early exit from the Grand Slam tournament in Australia last month, but she played very well in Fed Cup duty and I think her confidence is stronger than Vandeweghe's. After a couple of tough sets, I like Pliskova to come through this one with a 63, 64 win.

Joao Sousa - 2.5 games v Robin Haase: The First Round match in Marseille that kicks off the tournament is one that I do think Joao Sousa can win after a couple of tough losses in Montpellier and Rotterdam. Both of those matches have seen Sousa go down in three sets and I think he will be seriously disappointed that he didn't win at least one of those and perhaps even both of them.

It looks a much more winnable match against Robin Haase than the last one against Roberto Bautista Agut especially when you consider the Dutchman has lost four matches in a row. Haase has a solid serve, but he doesn't seem to be able to back that up effectively and perhaps his best form is going to be reserved for the Doubles Tour in the coming years.

To be honest, Haase has always been far too inconsistent and his best performances have come on the clay courts. Someone like Sousa should be able to make life awkward enough with his ability to get plenty of balls back in play and I do think Sousa has been close enough to win matches recently without getting over the line.

With a bit more luck at key moments, Sousa would have won the last two matches he lost and I am backing him to come through this one while covering the number.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 games v Dusan Lajovic: This is the second time in three weeks that Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Dusan Lajovic will be meeting on the clay courts during the South American Golden Swing. The first time saw the Spaniard win a tight match on the fast conditions in Quito and I think Ramos-Vinolas can come through this one too.

I actually backed Lajovic in their first match with the added hook of the extra game on the handicap, but he was a little fortunate in that match. While he served well for the most part, but Ramos-Vinolas was much better in protecting that side of his game and a similar level will see him have the edge.

The defeat to Pablo Cuevas last week in Buenos Aires is not that much of a surprise for Ramos-Vinolas especially as he had reached the Semi Final in Quito the week prior. The Spaniard will look to set himself up by producing effective lefty serves to put Lajovic in awkward positions and that scoreboard pressure can build on the latter.

Lajovic is at his best on the clay courts, and had a very solid week last time out in Buenos Aires when reaching the Quarter Finals. That will give him confidence but ultimately I think Ramos-Vinolas will get the better of the key moments and record a similar 76, 64 win he had in Quito against the Serbian.

MY PICKS: Camila Giorgi - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Joao Sousa - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Final: 14-11, + 1.88 Units (48 Units Staked, + 3.92% Yield)

Season 2016- 32.36 Units (320 Units Staked, - 10.11% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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