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Friday, 19 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 19th)

It was a much better Thursday than the first three days of this week's tournaments and it has given me a chance to turnaround what had been a poor week to that point.

Juan Martin Del Potro moved through to the Delray Beach Quarter Final which was good to see on Thursday, although it would be a big surprise to see him win the title. As well as the serve and forehand seem to be working, the backhand looks to be a big weakness at this moment and Del Potro is going to play better opponents than Denis Kudla and John-Patrick Smith as this week goes on.

Richard Gasquet - 1.5 games v Nick Kyrgios: I might be a fan of Nick Kyrgios, but that doesn't mean I am blinded to some of the weaknesses he needs to work on to improve his World Ranking. While this has been a solid week to this point in Marseille, Kyrgios can get very frustrated at times and someone Richard Gasquet has proven he is able to bring those frustrations to the fore.

That has shown up in the head to head between the players as Gasquet is capable of getting enough balls back in play to try and force the break points while also serving well enough to keep Kyrgios at bay. After winning in Montpellier, Gasquet had a very solid win over Ernests Gulbis in the Second Round and the Frenchman will be confident having won all three matches against Kyrgios in 2015.

As I have said, Kyrgios has played well this week and served effectively but this is the best player he would have played. Unlike Vasek Pospisil and Teymuraz Gabashvili, Gasquet is not going to allow Kyrgios to simply dominate behind his second serve and I do think this is a match up that fires up Gasquet.

The home crowd will recognise that and get behind their man and I do think Gasquet comes through and wins this one 76, 64.

Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 games v Benoit Paire: After coming through his Second Round match having saved match point, Stan Wawrinka can now build some momentum in the tournament in Marseille. He meets Benoit Paire in this Quarter Final and Wawrinka has been able to get the better of this opponent more often than not when they have met on the Tour.

Wawrinka has already beaten him on his way to winning the title in Chennai and you have to think the Swiss player will be a little too solid for him again. Much of that is down to the fact that Wawrinka is able to serve effectively against Paire and the latter is never that far away from giving up break point opportunities with his own sloppy play.

The erratic style Paire brings to the court means he can go through streaks of making mistakes and that is an issue when playing someone like Wawrinka. The latter can hit a couple of winners which can be coupled with Paire errors to force break point chances and a chance to get his nose in front in this match.

It hasn't been the best of starts to a season for Paire since reaching the Chennai Semi Final, but he has at least put together back to back wins this week. However, I think Wawrinka continues his dominance of their head to head with the more effective serve to set up his points and I like the two time Grand Slam Champion to win this one 63, 76.

Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v David Goffin: This looks to be one of the better Quarter Finals to be played in a very competitive tournament in Marseille and I like Tomas Berdych to get past David Goffin.

I am a fan of Goffin who plays some very good tennis and is fun to watch- however he has regularly struggled against the very best players on the Tour as he can have a hard time matching the power coming at him across the court. That is going to be an issue when he faces Tomas Berdych who came through a tough Second Round match against Alexander Zverev.

The consistency Berdych brings has kept him in the top eight of the World Rankings in recent years, but he also has a very heavy weight of shot. If the serve is working, Berdych is able to get himself into a position to set up some easy points and the Czech player can work his way through more comfortable service games than his opponent in this one.

There have been times I have watched Goffin and he has played some really special tennis. He will need to reach that level to see off Berdych in this Quarter Final, but the more consistent player with the power to hit through the court seems to be Berdych. If he can just stay focused, he should have the chance to win this one 63, 75.

Pablo Cuevas - 2.5 games v Federico Delbonis: It is Quarter Final day on what looks another rainy day coming up in Rio de Janeiro and I only like one of the four ATP matches that are being played. Pablo Cuevas had a more difficult time in the Second Round than I imagined, but much of that was down to his opponent Thiago Monteiro raising his own game.

The first set might have been decided on a tie-breaker, but Cuevas protected his serve very well throughout and that is the second match in a row he has served well. Cuevas will need to do that again when he faces Federico Delbonis who has also put together a couple of very good performances to reach the Quarter Final.

It does look like the serve will be all important for both players and the other key to the match is which player can force the other to play their backhand shot into the forehand. The lefty Delbonis going into the one-handed backhand of Cuevas is going to be a big part of the match, but I do think the latter is a little stronger on the clay courts and that will show up here.

Both Cuevas and Delbonis have had a couple of solid weeks on the clay courts with their losses coming against players they were perhaps expected to lose to. I do think Cuevas will have the edge in this one because the Delbonis serve can be a little more erratic of the two players and I like the higher Ranked player to move through 75, 64.

Jeremy Chardy v Juan Martin Del Potro: Another slow start almost cost Jeremy Chardy a place in the Quarter Final here in Delray Beach, but he ended up being a comfortable win over Noah Rubin. Chardy is most definitely the toughest opponent Juan Martin Del Potro will have played this week and I am a little surprised he has been considered the underdog in this match.

I have been impressed with how Juan Martin Del Potro has handled himself this week, but there is little doubt he doesn't have a lot of feel on the backhand. The serve and the forehand have been firing effectively, but there is a clear feeling on the court that the backhand is significantly short of the standard needed.

You have to think the highly paid coaches would have seen that and someone will let Chardy know that is the wing to attack. It isn't easy when Del Potro is putting together some monster shots off the serve and forehand, but Chardy is the best player he would have faced and someone who has plenty of weight of shot behind him too.

Heavy shots into the backhand wing should produce short balls for Chardy to deal with while Del Potro will be playing on back to back days for the first time in a long time. The Frenchman can be criticised of handing over matches with a ridiculous number of unforced errors, but controlling those will give him a chance of winning this match and ending Del Potro's run of success in Delray Beach.

MY PICKS: Richard Gasquet - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-13, - 12.90 Units (42 Units Staked, - 30.71% Yield)

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