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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 27th)

Two of my picks on Friday ended in retirements with one going against me and one going for me so I can't really complain too much.

It was a tough day for the picks, easily the toughest of the week as I didn't really get the luck to go with them. Alexandr Dolgopolov looked to be in complete control of his Semi Final before he was beaten in three sets, while Federico Delbonis would have covered if he wasn't upset in another final set losing pick.

Thankfully Sloane Stephens saved it from being a really poor day as we head into the final two days of this weeks tournaments. Next week is a quieter one with a couple of WTA tournaments being run, but the ATP Tour takes time off with the Davis Cup First Round matches played from Friday 4th March until Sunday 6th March.

Following that we have back to back Masters/Premier Event taking place in North America at Indian Wells and Miami so March is going to be another busy month on the Tour.

Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 games v Marcos Baghdatis: The Final in Dubai is something of a surprise because Novak Djokovic is not involved having pulled out of the draw earlier in the tournament. Both Djokovic and Roger Federer have dominated the title in Dubai in recent seasons so the locals will have a new Champion to support at the end of this one.

Stan Wawrinka had never won a match in Dubai before this week and had to ride his luck in the First Round when under intense pressure from Sergiy Stakhovsky. At this point of the event he should be very comfortable in the conditions and Wawrinka will also be confident of the match up against Marcos Baghdatis.

The Cypriot has had a very strong week to this point, but he will have to be even better than previously if he is going to beat Wawrinka for the first time. For starters he has to continue to protect the second serve as well as he has and Baghdatis will be put on the back foot if he has to look after that aspect of his game for much of this match.

I don't doubt Baghdatis has the quality to pressure Wawrinka in this one too when the latter blows hot and cold on the court, but I think this is the time in a tournament when the Swiss player is at his best. I can see Wawrinka working the Baghdatis backhand through the match and eventually finding his way through the defences to take the title home with a 64, 64 win.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 games v Inigo Cervantes: I got it wrong on Friday as Inigo Cervantes was able to knuckle down and beat Federico Delbonis, but it was a close final set that would have seen the latter cover the number if he had won the match. Cervantes was involved in a really close battle with Pablo Carreno Busta in Quito earlier in the South American Golden Swing, but was beaten for the third time by his compatriot.

On that occasion it was a really close match until the final set when Carreno Busta was able to take his chances and run away with the set. The style of play Cervantes has means there is always a chance for him to lose a set by a double break and that means Carreno Busta should have a chance to cover if he can win the match.

There are just too many second serves that Cervantes is relying upon and that leads to mistakes with double faults or being put under immediate pressure. Of course the chance to get to a main Tour Final is not something either player is that familiar with so nerves will play a part especially who can deal with those best.

I think Carreno Busta is the player with more upside and I think he can make that pay in this one as he comes through in three sets with a double break in one of the sets he wins to make sure he gets over this number.

Dominic Thiem - 2.5 games v Bernard Tomic: I really think Alexandr Dolgopolov let Bernard Tomic off the hook in their Semi Final on Friday, but I do think Dominic Thiem is not going to be a generous as that. The Austrian has a big game that can certainly lose the radar at times, but I love what Thiem brings to the court while his ever improving game is now leading to more Finals and title wins.

This would be the biggest tournament win of his career and he will be one more title from matching his entire haul of 2015. In fact all four previous title wins have come within the last twelve months as a player who I believe will crack the top ten and potentially go much further.

I am not underestimating Tomic who has a big serve and can play with plenty of variation to frustrate players and extract errors from their game. That should work to an extent against Thiem who loves to hit very close to the lines so disrupting the rhythm is a very good tactic against him to try and see errors creep into his performance.

However I am not 100% convinced that Tomic is completely healthy for this one and a more composed and focused player than Dolgopolov would have knocked him out on Friday. Dominic Thiem strikes me as someone who wants to get every ounce out of his ability and is unlikely to start 'messing about' with his shot selection and I like him to come through in two tight sets to win his first hard court title of his career behind a 76, 64 success.

Dominika Cibulkova + 2.5 games v Sloane Stephens: When the WTA Final in Acapulco was set, I thought Dominika Cibulkova would be the favourite to win it even if Sloane Stepehens has a title win behind her in 2016 already.

I just believe the movement of Cibulkova and her aggression on the court combine to make it a very difficult day for Sloane Stephens even if the American has looked very strong this week. While Stephens was an impressive Semi Final winner, I think she was helped by Yanina Wickmayer who brought her error strewn game onto the court, but I don't think Cibulkova is going to be as generous.

In saying that, Cibulkova is not likely to have the same impact behind her serve so will have to work hard to make sure she keeps Stephens at bay, although on the other hand I expect her to put more pressure on the Stephens serve too.

All in all I think this is a match that could easily go the distance which automatically makes the games in hand appealing. Add in the fact I think Cibulkova has every chance of winning the title outright and I have to back the 'pocket rocket' to cover these games.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.67 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 2.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 23-13, + 11.66 Units (70 Units Staked, + 16.66% Yield)

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