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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 25th)

Wednesday was another solid day for the picks, but I am hoping for even better to start getting this season moving in the direction that I would be expecting.

There have been some rough weeks for many by the sounds of things at the beginning of 2016 and you have to think the Tennis Tour will settle down as the weeks progress.

One thing that hasn't changed is the dominance Novak Djokovic is showing on the court and he has won his two matches in Dubai this week while losing just six games. It looks like it is going to take some special efforts to stop Djokovic doing whatever he wants on the court this season as he looks head and shoulders above his peers at this moment.

Speaking of Dubai, we have reached the Quarter Finals there and in Doha as we have in Acapulco. However the tournament in Sao Paulo has been affected by the poor weather that was also in play in Rio de Janeiro last week and that means there is an almost full Second Round schedule to get through on Thursday.

Nick Kyrgios v Tomas Berdych: Last week I actually picked Tomas Berdych to beat Nick Kyrgios in Marseille and was duly stunned when the Australian served so effectively that he barely lost points behind his biggest shot. Winning his first title on the Tour seems to have inspired Kyrgios and he has been pretty impressive in Dubai where the quicker court conditions just aid a huge serve.

It would have been easy for Kyrgios to have come to Dubai and perhaps not have the energy to compete, but this looks a player with the potential that a lot of people have been talking about. Kyrgios is playing smart tennis and he continues to produce the multiple big serves that is putting a lot of pressure on whoever is standing on the other side of the court.

I have a lot of respect for Berdych who I thought would have more joy from his return than he did in Marseille but I am not expecting a repeat of those struggles. However, it will still be difficult to break the Kyrgios serve and I would be worried that Berdych isn't able to protect his serve as well as the Australian.

Over the last four sets they have played, Kyrgios has begun to get the better of things and I think he can mach the Berdych power with better movement and better ability off the backhand to cause damage. It should be a fun match but backing the underdog Kyrgios to make it two out of two against Berdych is my call in the first Quarter Final of the day.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Marcos Baghdatis: Backing Marcos Baghdatis has been good for me this week, but I have continued to be impressed with the way Roberto Bautista Agut is playing and I think he gets the better of this Quarter Final.

There is a lot of hard work that Bautista Agut puts in on the court and I think he will have to do that to protect his serve against a talented and healthy Baghdatis. However, I also think Bautista Agut is a player that will get a lot of balls back in court and extract errors from Baghdatis if the Cypriot is even a little off his game.

Bautista Agut will see plenty of second serves and that is a shot that I think he can take advantage of by leaving Baghdatis in some really awkward spots on the court. I do think Bautista Agut has to serve well to make sure there is no encouragement for Baghdatis in this one, but I think his confidence is high enough at this moment to do that and I think he will be too good on the day.

At times Baghdatis has just rode his luck in his couple of wins here, but he is now playing an opponent who is in such fine form that he is unlikely to lack belief in his own game. After a battle I look for Bautista Agut to come through 75, 64.

Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: Stan Wawrinka hadn't won in Dubai before and he might have been a little lucky to get over the line in the First Round to break his duck. However that is the kind of win that can get Wawrinka going and he should be a stronger favourite to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in my opinion.

The German has taken advantage of a very kind draw to reach the Quarter Finals this week, but the opposition certainly picks up considerably in the form of Wawrinka. Both players have wonderful backhands to watch so that should be fun for the neutrals lucky enough to watch this one.

However one big difference has to be the movement around the court and I definitely feel Kohlschreiber has lost half a step from side to side on the court. If Wawrinka is controlling the unforced errors, he should be able to move Kohlschreiber around which will increase the pressure and eventually force some errors from his racquet.

I do think the momentum is behind Wawrinka now who should be confident in the conditions here with another evening match scheduled. For the most part Kohlschreiber is beginning to struggle against the top players on the Tour and I think Wawrinka will be able to expose those movement issues I have mentioned and come through 76, 64.

Santiago Giraldo - 2.5 games v Gastao Elias: There is plenty of rain around Brazil at the moment which had affected the tournament in Rio last week and is set to disrupt the Sao Paulo tournament too. Wednesday was effectively written off which means we have a full Second Round schedule to get through on Thursday, although I wouldn't be holding my breath that they are able to get through the whole day without more rain.

That does make it difficult for the players having to warm up and warm down during matches while it isn't any easier for those scheduled for later in the day as they have to wait around. That might be the case for Santiago Giraldo and Gastao Elias in their Second Round match which is expected to be closer than I would have had it myself.

They did have a tight match in Rio de Janeiro last week, but I think Giraldo was looking the stronger player in that match and I expect the Colombian to frank that win here. He played very well in the First Round and it has to be remembered that Elias usually plays at a lower level with more Challengers in his future than there will be these main draws.

Elias has played well over the last couple of weeks to show he might be capable of bridging the gap, but Giraldo is the better player in this one. It might be a similar scoreline to last time, but I have a feeling Giraldo will find a break more in each set and I like him coming through 64, 64 to move into the Quarter Final.

Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 games v Facundo Bagnis: Winning the title in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest of his career, should be the kind of confidence builder that can see Pablo Cuevas perhaps achieve the goals he has set for himself. There was plenty of belief in the way he played last week and I think he might be glad of the rain which will mean his first match here is delayed until this moment.

It might be a little longer that Cuevas has to wait to get his event underway, but he should be happy with the match up against Facundo Bagnis who will give him a decent rhythm from the back of the court.

They met last meet and Cuevas won very easily, but that is unlikely to be the case again. Bagnis has put together three solid wins this week to get into the Second Round and I think he will have learnt something from the lesson that was handed out to him by Cuevas.

In saying that, I do think Cuevas is the far stronger player and he loves the clay courts in South America. With the extra time to recover I think he will be ready for this event in Sao Paulo and while it will be closer than last week, I still believe Cuevas is good enough to win this one 63, 64 and book his place in the Quarter Final.

Bernard Tomic - 3.5 games v Illya Marchenko: There were some sloppy moments in the Bernard Tomic win over Adrian Mannarino, but the Australian knuckled down at key moments to ensure he moved into the Quarter Final in straight sets. He will need to continue his focus if he is going to see off Illya Marchenko who is a player that can produce some fine tennis on his day.

Marchenko has already reached one Semi Final on the main Tour this season so I don't imagine nerves are going to bother him that much. However he has also had some silly losses since that Semi Final in Doha and it can be hard to figure out what kind of form he will bring to the table.

It will need to be his best to see off Tomic who has enjoyed his time on the South and Central American hard courts in his career. He regularly performs well in Bogota in Colombia later in the season and Tomic has looked a little more focused this week even through some of the inconsistent moments.

This is certainly a big event for Tomic who has made his top ten ambitions very clear to the media and picking up the Ranking points from a deep run in an ATP 500 event is certainly the way to go. That should keep him focused in this one and I think Tomic will find his way to break down Marchenko in a 64, 64 win.

Dominic Thiem + 2.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: When this match was set and before the prices were released, I really thought it was going to be a pick 'em Quarter Final between Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem. It is going to be a close match to call so I would not have played it, but I can't stand by and see Thiem as a fairly big underdog being given this many games on the handicap.

The bigger 'name' is definitely Dimitrov for the casual fans, but I don't think he has been in the kind of form that his straight set wins over Denis Kudla and Donald Young may suggest. Dimitrov had to dig deep in both of those matches and now he is facing a much better player in Thiem who has the confidence of a title win and a Semi Final run behind him.

Perhaps the clay courts are more to Thiem's liking at this moment in his career, but he is more than capable of producing on the hard courts. He has some power behind him and Thiem won't be intimidated by facing Dimitrov but instead may look at this as a chance to show there is a 'new kid on the block'.

I might be completely wrong and Dimitrov dominates this match from start to finish, but I think he is not serving as well as the scores might suggest. He will give Thiem chances and I think the upset has every chance of being achieved in this one.

However I will take the security of the games and look for a very competitive showing from Thiem in this one.

Sam Querrey - 1.5 games v Taylor Fritz: This looks a fascinating match between the last generation of American players and the next.

You can't help but be impressed with Taylor Fritz and the way he has performed on the main Tour after a strong Junior season in 2015. He is set to break into the top 100 in the World Rankings on Monday and Fritz has already reached a Final in Memphis to back up a Challenger win earlier in the season.

Fritz has won some solid matches this week against the likes of Jeremy Chardy and Victor Estrella Burgos, but I do think the level steps up when facing the Delray Beach Champion Sam Querrey. I have to say I wasn't sure Querrey was going to do anything but slip down the World Rankings, but he looks revitalised and the serve continues to be a huge weapon for him.

If he is serving well it will build plenty of scoreboard pressure on Fritz and I think the youngster might just struggle to cope in this one. I do think he could have big things in his future, but I also believe Querrey is in hot form and can come through this one 76, 64.

MY PICKS: Nick Kyrgios @ 2.20 Bet365 (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Santiago Giraldo - 2.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Bernard Tomic - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Querrey - 1.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 16-7, + 10.68 Units (44 Units Staked, + 24.27% Yield)

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