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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 3rd)

The first two days of the week have been very productive for the picks on the Tour as I start the road to recovery from the poor Australian Open tournament.

The tournaments in Montpellier, Quito and Sofia continue on Wednesday as we move into the Second Round matches and that also means the top Seeds are in action who have received a bye in the First Round. The key is to find the right angles to play as I have so far, but also hoping that the luck remains behind me which is always a benefit when making picks in any sport.

Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 games v Taro Daniel: He is a veteran of the Tour these days and Marcos Baghdatis never seems too far away from an injury that keeps him off the circuit for a prolonged period. There is no doubting the talent Baghdatis has, but he is not quite the same player as a few years ago with the movement not quite as good as it was, but he remains a popular figure who will receive plenty of support.

Baghdatis felt good on court in the First Round win over Lukas Lacko thanks to a couple of late breaks of serve. There was some room for improvement though as Baghdatis will want to be a little better dealing with the pressurised situations of being down break points, but he would have been happy with the way he was returning on the day too.

It will need to be more of the same if Baghdatis is to get through to the Quarter Final at the expense of Taro Daniel, but I do think the Cypriot will have more of the break point chances in this one. Daniel won his first match in 2016 with his victory over Denis Istomin in the First Round, but he has been a tough out having lost all three previous matches after pushing them the distance.

Maybe Daniel has earned enough experience now to deal with the main Tour, but I think he is a player that is yet to really look after serve fully which puts pressure on him. The second serve points will be key in this one as the player that can look after that side of their game the best is likely to come through, but that is where I give Baghdatis the edge as the superior player on the ground.

I would be surprised if there aren't some twists and turns in the match, but ultimately I think Baghdatis is going to show he is still in a position to win matches like this in a tight 75, 64 victory.

Marin Cilic - 3.5 games v Alexander Zverev: Some toughness and ultimately some luck helped Alexander Zverev beat Luca Vanni in the First Round in Montpellier but he will need to be a lot better if he is going to beat Marin Cilic. Zagreb is no longer one of the events on the Tour which means Cilic has decided to take in Montpellier for the first time, but as a former four time Champion at this time of the season, he will be considered a danger here.

It has been a disappointing start to 2016 for Marin Cilic who is hoping to get back into the kind of form that took him to the US Open title in 2015. Defeats to Dominic Thiem and Roberto Bautista Agut would have bothered him but Cilic is comfortable on the indoor hard courts and can certainly go deep into the draw if he wins this Second Round match.

The serve has to work better than it has been for Cilic to really get back into a position to be a real contender at the very best tournaments. It will also give him a good chance to beat the potential star of the future in Alexander Zverev who was a little erratic with his own delivery on Monday.

A problem Zverev was having against Vanni was backing up his play off the ground and trying to deal with the power that his opponent was hitting with. That is going to be coming to the fore again against Cilic who hits the ball plenty hard, but also is a much better returner than Vanni and I think that pressure will see him crack the Zverev defences.

I can see Cilic earning a break more than Zverev in each set in this one to move through in a 64, 63 straight sets win.

Lukas Rosol - 2.5 games v Martin Klizan: A six match losing run was brought to an end by Martin Klizan with an easy win over an overmatched Wild Card entry in the First Round here, but the competition ramps up considerably for him. In the past Klizan has shown he has plenty of talent and shot making capabilities, but he doesn't play with a lot of margin for error and so when he is off his game he can look a really poor player.

Klizan battled well at the Australian Open to come back from 2-0 down to Roberto Bautista Agut before ultimately losing in five sets, but his first two appearances in 2016 had seen him look very poor. Now he faces Lukas Rosol who battled back from a set down to beat Robin Haase in the First Round and who has plenty of wins under his belt to open the new season.

I will admit that it can be hard to back Rosol with any real faith because he is another player that can go through periods of making far too many unforced errors with poor shot selection or with a low margin of error in his shots. He has a huge serve that I don't think Rosol uses to his advantage as well as he should, but the Czech player has to be feeling more confident than Klizan at this moment in time.

I do think Rosol is the right favourite and I like him to cover this number because of the manner in which Klizan has lost matches. Before the defeat at the Australian Open, the last thirteen losses Klizan had suffered had all come in straight sets and only a couple of those sets even went as far as the tie-breaker. Rosol might need a tie-breaker in this one, but I do think he wins 76, 64 to move into the Quarter Final.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 games v Inigo Cervantes: I backed Inigo Cervantes to come through his First Round match here and he did eventually see off Pere Riba, although he will need to serve a lot better to beat another compatriot in this Second Round match. Over the first two sets, Cervantes struggled with his first serve percentage and he had to save a host of break points before eventually taking control, but a slow start is likely to be punished this time.

Pablo Carreno Busta has some big expectations on his shoulders and he has shown he has the talent to be the next Spanish player to reach the top of the men's game. However his inconsistencies have not helped and being World Number 67 has to be a disappointment for Carreno Busta.

He was a very comfortable First Round winner and has beaten Cervantes the two previous times they have played one another, both times coming on the clay courts. The courts in Quito are playing a little faster than other clay courts, but that should suit Carreno Busta who has the more reliable serve of the two players.

Neither player has really pulled up any trees to open the 2016 season, but I think Carreno Busta is the superior player and can battle through this match and move into the Quarter Finals with a 64, 64 win behind him.

Thomaz Bellucci - 3.5 games v Albert Montanes: The Golden Swing on the clay courts of South America will be seen as a good time for Thomaz Bellucci to get his season on track after a tough start to 2016. He beat Albert Montanes here in Quito last season and I really do think the lefty Brazilian can beat the veteran again this time around.

Last season Bellucci beat Montanes in the Quarter Final which meant he had got used to the conditions here but this time he is coming in blind with this being his first match in Quito compared with his opponent who won in the First Round.

Will that make a difference? I think there is a chance it does early on in the match as Bellucci settles down, especially as he is yet to win a match this season. However, Bellucci should begin to get a good read of the Montanes serve and start creating break point chances, while his own first serve can set up a few more easier points on these quicker courts.

At this stage of Montanes' career, you can't really expect him to maintain the form over a couple of hours to beat a player like Bellucci who is comfortable on this surface. Th first set might be very tight as Bellucci gets familiarised with his surroundings, but that should set him up for a 76, 63 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Lukas Rosol - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Thomaz Bellucci - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Betway (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-1, + 8.26 Units (14 Units Staked, + 59% Yield)

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