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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 17th)

It wasn't the best day on Tuesday for the tennis picks but a marked improvement on a really poor Monday.

The tournaments continue on Wednesday with the Second Round matches going on at the various events taking place this week.

Julia Goerges v Barbora Strycova: There are a number of very close matches in Dubai on Wednesday as the Second Round is completed in one day. That makes it hard to find picks I am comfortable with, but I do think Julia Goerges will like the conditions more than Barbora Strycova and I will back the German to move into the Quarter Final.

She was dominant in her win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, although I have my doubts that the latter was completely healthy going into that one. However Goerges has the power the do that to opponents on a quick court, especially when she is serving as well as she was.

I think that is going to make a big difference in this Second Round match as Strycova is much more about her movement and ability to counter punch. She will look to extract errors from Goerges by forcing her to play one more ball, but I think the latter will be able to get a few more cheaper points behind her serve.

When they met earlier this season, it was Goerges' first serve that made the difference in a very close match. There really wasn't a lot between them then and I don't think there will be a lot between them now, but I think Goerges can make it two in a row against Strycova.

Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 games v Elina Svitolina: A disappointing Australian Open is behind Garbine Muguruza and I still think more consistency is needed from her game even though she is up to Number 5 in the World Rankings. There is a lot more potential that Muguruza has and she has to fulfil that if she is to become a regular threat to win the biggest prizes on the Tour.

I do like her chances to make a winning return to the Tour after a couple of Fed Cup wins, although Elina Svitolina could have a serious impact on the Tour in the coming months. She has recently joined forces with Justin Henin and if she can implement some of the tactics that the Belgian had in her career, Svitolina could make a rapid rise up the World Rankings.

Svitolina had an impressive win in her First Round match against Jana Cepelova, but the level increases somewhat in this one. 2016 has been a mixed bag for her so far and I think Henin has to make sure Svitolina remains competitive against the top players with her having a tendency to fall apart when the going gets tough.

She has to overcome other mental hurdles in this one having lost her previous two matches to Muguruza by comfortable margins. The big hitting from Muguruza can push Svitolina onto the back foot where she is not the most comfortable and I definitely think the Spaniard has a big serve that can set her up for the win in this one. It looks a big number, but I think Muguruza can win this one with a 63, 64 score.

Fabio Fognini - 4.5 games v Daniel Gimeno-Traver:  You never know what you're going to get with Fabio Fognini as he can quickly lose his focus mentally which makes it tough to back him to cover big numbers. He is sometimes hard to trust but the Italian is at his best on the clay courts and he will have good memories of Rio de Janeiro where he reached the Final last season after knocking out Rafael Nadal in the Semi Final.

He had to show all of his battling qualities to see off Aljaz Bedene in the First Round, but the level hasn't increased in the Second Round when he faces veteran Daniel Gimeno-Traver. The Spaniard has benefited from a retirement in each of his last two matches to reach the Second Round and Gimeno-Traver is a threat having achieved his best results on the clay courts which should not be a big surprise.

Prior to this tournament, Gimeno-Traver has gone just 2-9 in his last eleven matches on the clay courts and a number of those losses have come by a margin that would see him fail to cover in this one. The serve is under-rated which makes him a danger if Fognini is not playing with the concentration needed, but you have to think the clay courts will favour the Italian who plays his best tennis on this surface.

Fognini does hold a significant edge on the head to head, but they have not met on the Tour since 2012 so I won't put too much stock in that. I am looking for the Seeded player to instead show the improvement in his game and eventually wear down Gimeno-Traver in a 63, 64 win.

Dominic Thiem - 4.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: Some may think the tournament win in Buenos Aires makes Dominic Thiem a vulnerable Seed this week, but he showed last summer he can put together strong consecutive weeks on the clay courts. A convincing win over Pablo Andujar has backed up that belief and I think Thiem will move into another Quarter Final on the clay courts with a win over Diego Sebastian Schwartzman.

I won't underestimate the Argentine who has been able to produce some quality tennis in his career and dismissed Joao Souza in front of his own fans in the First Round. However, Schwartzman has had some difficulties in putting in consistent performances on the main Tour compared with the Challenger level and I think there is a gap to bridge.

A lot of that will depend on how well Thiem protects his serve, something that has been an issue for him at times in his young career. That has to be expected when you think of the inexperience, but Thiem is ever improving and could be a genuine threat to the top names on the upcoming clay court season in Europe.

I do think Thiem will have the edge when it comes to the return of serve and the extra power generated from the Austrian should give him the chance to push Schwartzman around the court. I think Thiem will be in trouble if he is less than at his best, but getting to that level should see him come through 63, 64 for the second match in a row and another Quarter Final on this South American Golden Swing.

David Ferrer - 5.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: A retirement while down a break helped Albert Ramos-Vinolas move into the Second Round, but now he faces a difficult test against his compatriot David Ferrer. The higher Ranked Spaniard is perhaps not at the same level that saw him reach multiple Grand Slam Quarter and Semi Finals in his career, but Ferrer should still have a little too much about his game for Ramos-Vinolas.

There are a lot of points for Ferrer to defend on his first of two trips to Rio de Janeiro this season having won the title here last season. That puts some pressure on him and it has to be said that Ferrer is now more likely to drop silly sets than he has in recent seasons.

It was the case when Ferrer and Ramos-Vinolas met in Vienna at the back end of 2015 when Ferrer dropped the opening set 61 and that is a concern for me. However, Ferrer has beaten Ramos-Vinolas two out of three times fairly comfortably on the clay courts and the latter was also dismissed in straight-forward fashion against Pablo Cuevas last week.

If Ramos-Vinolas serves well he is a genuine threat in this one, but I can see Ferrer making enough balls back in play to grind him down and eventually prevail 75, 62.

Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: The final match in Delray Beach on Wednesday features Grigor Dimitrov who is trying to reignite his career and show he can fulfil the potential a lot of people had for him. A tough 2015 is behind him and a couple of defeats to Roger Federer to open 2016 shouldn't affect the confidence too much considering Dimitrov had been fairly competitive in both.

His First Round win over Dudi Sela came in fairly comfortable fashion and I don't think Dimitrov should be too disheartened with his draw at all.

It was a solid win for Damir Dzumhur in the First Round over Ricardas Berankis, but the latter didn't look anything near being at the races in that one. Now the level increases significantly for the Bosnian who doesn't have the biggest serve and also has some issues with his shot selection that was highlighted despite a big win in the First Round.

Unless Dzumhur can be at his very, very best, I am not seeing this as competitively as the layers seem to be. There haven't been many moments where Dzumhur has been completely outclassed this season, but he hasn't really played the very best players too often and did only win four games in a defeat to Tomas Berdych early on. I do think he wins a couple more in this one, but I expect Dimitrov to have the lion's share of the break point chances as he gets to see a pretty weak serve more often than not, and I like the Bulgarian to win this one 64, 62 once he gets his eye in.

MY PICKS: Julia Goerges @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 4.5 Games @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Bet Fred (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 Games @ 2.20 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-6, - 8.40 Units (16 Units Staked, - 52.5% Yield)

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