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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 18th)

This has been a miserable week for the tennis picks as I literally haven't had even the slightest bit of luck to help me out. I've had players get into a position where they have either had a double break of serve before blowing that kind of lead, or players like Grigor Dimitrov who have crumbled when in a position of strength.

I have to only describe it as a pretty pathetic week with other players losing from a set up and I won't like when saying my frustration is at an all-time high. Since the second half of 2015, I really don't think I've had any rub of the green and it looks like 2016 is going to be a difficult season barring some luck coming my way.

Some will say you make your own luck, but that isn't the case when players miss an insane amount of break points or play like crap when dominating matches. If Thursday is as poor as the other days this week, I am thinking of calling it a wrap for the week as the first two months of 2016 have already meant a big hole has developed for the picks.

Caroline Garcia v Andrea Petkovic: It has already been a strong week for both Caroline Garcia and Andrea Petkovic and this is a big chance to win a major tournament. Every Seed in Dubai has already been beaten and that means the eight Quarter Finalists will be full of belief that they can take the title home including the winner of this one.

It does look like Garcia and Petkovic are arguably on the tougher side of the draw, and this is likely going to be a Quarter Final when both have to dig deep to move through. It is Petkovic who has won the two previous matches, but the latter of those came in three sets at the US Open and Garcia actually won more points overall in that match.

The big points had been won by Petkovic as she barely got past Garcia, but I have to say the Frenchwoman looks ready to make a real move up the World Rankings. I do think this is going to be another close match between the two and wonder if Garcia's tough win over Carla Suarez Navarro has a negative effect on her game in this Round.

However, I can see Garcia just knuckling down through the tough moments and working her way to the three set win and a place in the Semi Final.

Richard Gasquet - 3.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: Richard Gasquet won his first tournament returning to the Tour in Montpellier and I think he has every chance of going all the way in Marseille. Last week saw Gasquet pull out of the tournament in Rotterdam, but he should be well prepared for this one and faces Ernests Gulbis who he dismissed in two sets in Montpellier.

It was a strong serving day from Gasquet which helped him get past Gulbis when they last met two weeks ago. It will need another to make sure the Frenchman is in a position to win this match and I have to say that the Gulbis confidence is not in a great place at this moment in time.

Gulbis hasn't played badly and was a strong winner in the First Round, but his confidence is not in a great place and he never seems that far away from throwing in a really poor service game. I think the forehand continues to be something of a weakness and Gasquet will be happy to mix backhand to backhand and I expect him to have the edge in this match once again.

A couple of years ago Gulbis did crush Gasquet here in the Semi Final, but I think the two players are in a different place mentally from that time and I expect Gasquet to come through 64, 64.

Donald Young - 2.5 games v Tim Smyczek: This is the fourteenth time that Donald Young and Tim Smyczek are going to meet on the Tour and it is Young who leads the head to head 8-5, although he is just 2-4 in the last six of those matches.

I don't think anyone can deny that the field in Delray Beach is not the deepest so this is the chance for these two American players to earn some big Ranking points. The winner might feel they can get much further than the Quarter Final and I think this is going to be a tight match that will see both have their chances.

There isn't a lot that either player can point to in terms of successes in 2016 to give them the edge in this one. However, I think some of Smyczek's losses have been particularly disappointing and the Young serve is the definitely more effective weapon of the two players.

He isn't the easiest player to trust, but Young should be the better one on the court if he can maintain his concentration and I think he snaps his two match losing run against Smyczek. After a battling couple of sets, I think Young moves through 76, 64 in this one.

Jeremy Chardy - 4.5 games v Noah Rubin: He was described as a terrible player when beating Benoit Paire at the Australian Open, but Noah Rubin might be a little better than that. He battled through a really awkward First Round match against Sam Groth, but Rubin will be a big underdog when he faces Jeremy Chardy.

I will say that Chardy can be a really frustrating figure to back, but I do think he has a very good chance of winning this match. The Frenchman destroyed Matthew Ebden in the First Round, but he has a tendency to blow hot and cold through a tournament and Chardy will need to be at his best to make sure he isn't the latest to underestimate Rubin.

The problem Rubin has had is struggling to cope with the pressure that players on the main Tour can build up on him. That has been underlined by the nature of his losses in 2016 as he can't keep up with those opponents who have eventually proved too strong and someone like Chardy has a good enough serve to set himself up for some cheap points.

He will need to be better at converting break points than he was last week but if Chardy can do that he will be a big favourite to progress. He should have the majority of the chances with the heavier weight of shot coming from the back of the court and I do think he will eventually wear down the young American in a 63, 64 win.

Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 games v John-Patrick Smith: How good was it to see Juan Martin Del Potro not just return to the Tour, but return with a pretty convincing win over Denis Kudla? I am a huge Del Potro fan and am looking forward to his comeback Tour, but am more hoping he is over the injury problems that he has suffered with for over two years.

This is still a work in progress for Del Potro who has admitted he doesn't have full faith on the two-handed backhand having relied on the one handed slice in the First Round. However the serve and forehand looked like the big weapons that took him to the US Open title in 2009 and Del Potro has admitted he was very happy with how those two weapons were firing on Tuesday.

The draw in Delray Beach is not the deepest and Del Potro has to be favoured to beat John-Patrick Smith who has spent the majority of his time away from the main Tour. A win over Ivo Karlovic will give the Australian confidence, but I do wonder if we have seen the best of the big serving Croatian after a pretty miserable start to the season.

Smith will look to blunt Del Potro's power in a similar way, but this is a much bigger hitter from the back of the court than Karlovic so it is a big test for Smith. The key for Smith is clearly getting a chance to hit into the Del Potro backhand wing as much as possible, but that won't be easy if Del Potro is serving as big as he was in the First Round.

Of course we don't know how Del Potro will have reacted to his first match in eleven months on the Tour. However I do think he will get the majority of chances to break serve in this one and I like his chances of making it two from two and seven from seven in Delray Beach as Del Potro moves into a Quarter Final behind a 64, 64 win.

Federico Delbonis - 2.5 games v Paolo Lorenzi: One of the interesting Second Round matches in Rio de Janeiro comes from one that is on one of the outside courts. Federico Delbonis is at his most comfortable on the clay courts, but he is facing Paolo Lorenzi who has opened 2016 in very strong form and is also very successful on the clay.

This is the third season in a row that Delbonis and Lorenzi have met during the Golden Swing in South America and it is the former who has won the last couple of matches. Both players played well in Buenos Aires and were beaten by players in form, but it is Lorenzi who has also reached the Final of a Challenger and the Semi Final in Quito since the Australian Open.

That is certainly a lot of tennis being played by the Italian in a short space of time and I do wonder if that is going to have sapped some energy. He is used to playing a lot of tournaments, but Lorenzi has been going deeper into events on a more consistent basis and this will be a big test for him.

Delbonis had a strong win over Jack Sock in the First Round here and he is capable of producing some top tennis. He can be a little erratic at times too, but I think Delbonis can work his way through to a 64, 46, 63 kind of win and a place in the Quarter Final.

Rafael Nadal - 4.5 games v Nicolas Almagro: It was a really special week for Nicolas Almagro in Buenos Aires even if he ultimately fell short in the Final. That will give the Spaniard confidence as he rebuilds his Ranking following injury eighteen months ago, and he had a solid win to open this tournament.

However Almagro is not going to be that used to playing long consecutive weeks on the Tour and now faces Rafael Nadal who is desperate to get his 2016 season going after a couple of bitter blows over the last month. Nadal's defeat to Dominic Thiem last week in Buenos Aires has underlined his current status on the clay courts he had dominated for so long over the years.

It has only been a couple of seasons since Almagro beat Nadal for the first time on the Tour, that coming on the clay courts of Barcelona. However that has been a rare high for Almagro against his compatriot and he has lost all three matches played since against Nadal and has lost all seven sets played.

Nadal would have covered this number in each of those and I do think he can use superior fitness to see off Almagro. I do think Nadal has to improve his serve massively to not have another disappointing clay court season as he did last season, but I do wonder if Almagro will have enough in the tank to take advantage, while Nadal would have covered this number in his last three wins against Almagro.

A tough match with some long rallies likely will be in the offing, but I think Nadal wears down Almagro 75, 63 in this one.

Pablo Cuevas - 5.5 games v Thiago Monteiro: The big question for Thiago Monteiro is how will he respond to his biggest win of his career after coming from a set down to see off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the First Round. That was such an impressive win for the youngster who hadn't won on the main Tour, or even played on the main Tour, prior to that one.

Beating a former Grand Slam Finalist and a player who has reached Semi Finals at the French Open is a huge achievement for Monteiro. However, I think picking himself up from that is going to be a big ask for the Brazilian despite the home support he will receive, especially as he faces someone of the quality of Pablo Cuevas.

There is little doubt that Cuevas is very comfortable on the clay courts and he is a player that can pick up some momentum during matches to run away from opponents. There is an under-rated power that Cuevas possesses, but he is also willing to be patient which is a huge key for performing on this surface.

It might take a little time for Cuevas to figure out what he is seeing from the other side of the court, but he has shown there is definitely a level in which he thrives. By that I mean he is seeing off the opponents he is expected to without too many issues, but still trying to match the very best clay courters and I think Cuevas will eventually figure out what Monteiro can offer and prevail 64, 62.

MY PICKS: Caroline Garcia @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Donald Young - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Juan Martin Del Potro - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 William Hill (2 Units)
Federico Delbonis - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-10, - 16.40 Units (24 Units Staked, - 68.33% Yield)


  1. Hi Dav,

    I have been following your blog since 2011 and am very grateful that you are writing it. Sorry about the recent bad luck, I know how frustrating it can be.

    I tried reaching you through Facebook a few months ago about sharing some thoughts but it seems I may have sent it to the wrong person. So I thought I would reach you through here.

    I had bet on tennis quite succesfully during all of the previous decade but it has leveled off in recent years and I had slight loss for 2015. I have analyzed my results from many angles in recent times and have come away with 2 main practical take-aways. First, in the early part (until Thursday or Friday) of regular tournaments (and increasingly grand slams) it hasn’t been net profitable to bet on the favorite (win bets, to cover the spread or the under in the number of games). Second, the better in knew a match (the players, the match up or other insight) the better my result was. This argues for being more selective and allocating my units more to matches that I know quite well. Given the trend in my results, the game seems to have changed for me in a way that I have not quite completely figured out.

    I hope the above 2 take-aways are useful for you as well. Your picks and analysis are extremely helpful to me and I am sure to many others. Hope you will return to your normal stride soon.


  2. Thanks for the comments MG.

    I tend to agree with your second point a lot- there seems to have been an adjustment that I haven't quite moved with, but am analysing that and seeing what I can do to move with it. That is harder to determine when you are not completely sure what adjustment has been made but hopefully something I will pick up on sooner rather than later.

    Very much appreciate the time you've taken to post, was an interesting read.

    Here is hoping back to a standard that has been set over the years sooner rather than later