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Friday, 5 February 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (February 5th)


The week looked to be in tremendous shape going into the final few days and what happens?


But more frustrating is the fact that at least three of those matches go very differently if players don't have some really sloppy moments.

I'll never know how Gilles Muller didn't cover considering he had break points in all but one of Ricardas Berankis' second service games. The big moment was in the middle of the set with Muller leading 2-1, 0-40, but he then lost an incredible 15/17 points to go a break down.

He did retrieve that break but missed match point at 6-5 up and won in a tie-breaker to miss the cover by a single game.

Add Fernando Verdasco who was up a break in the deciding set as he looked to be on course for the cover only to lose serve twice, once with a back to back double fault, before Feliciano Lopez won a set 6-2 against Joao Souza but couldn't do much against the Brazilian in the first two sets to also miss the cover by one game.

Don't misunderstand though, the Benoit Paire pick sucked as he continues to be the worst player inside the top 30 of the World Rankings (I couldn't tell you how surprised I was to see Paire is Number 21 in the World Rankings), but even a little bit of luck wouldn't have ruined the first three days of the week.

The week might have been hit badly, but there are still three days left of the week and I do think things can be turned around. Frustrating as Thursday was, I have to keep the mind clear and look at the picks and see that at least two were in very strong positions to cover while a third dominated just a little too late so they weren't far away.

I just hope that bit of luck for the hundreds of break points generated can help see those serves broken this time.

Michael Berrer + 2.5 games v Alexander Zverev: This is the kind of match where the veteran Michael Berrer can use all of his experience to find a way past his young opponent Alexander Zverev. Berrer has done that once already in this tournament when seeing off Borna Coric in the First Round, but this might be a big week for Zverev who has had his share of luck to reach this Quarter Final.

I can see a tight match develop between the two compatriots.

Michael Berrer has had plenty of success on the indoor hard courts in the past with his lefty serve a big weapon on the surface. He has used that to good effect so far in the tournament and it was a key to beating Zverev last season.

He will have to serve well as Zverev has done well in holding his own serve for much of the week, especially under pressurised situations. However being back as the favourite brings its own pressures and I am not Zverev is going to be able to deal with that element and the expectation he reaches the Semi Final.

I wouldn't be surprised if we get to see a deciding set between these players, but Berrer has a good chance of getting to another indoor hard court Semi Final if he can serve as well as he has for the most part this week. I have to give Zverev credit for holding it together at key moments through his first two matches, but he might have to do that again if he is to get through and I believe Berrer keeps this one close if he doesn't win outright.

Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 games v Richard Gasquet: Despite a lay off from the Tour which meant missing the first month of the 2016 season, Richard Gasquet played very well in his Second Round win over Ernests Gulbis. It was a back injury that kept the Frenchman out of the Australian Open, but he didn't seem to have too many problems serving against Gulbis, although I expect a much sterner test in the Quarter Finals.

Marcos Baghdatis might not be at the level that took him to the Australian Open Final and the Wimbledon Semi Final these days, but he has had two solid wins this week. He is still capable of producing some very strong tennis and I think he will offer more on the return of serve than Gulbis did against Gasquet a couple of days ago.

The concern has to be that Baghdatis still throws in a sloppy service game or two through the course of a set because he is ultimately going to have a pretty low first serve percentage. That will give Gasquet a chance to get a read on the second and really get into the rallies and pressure Baghdatis and I think the serve could be a key for the Number 1 Seed.

However, this is the second competitive match Gasquet will be playing following his lay off and I do wonder how the back held up on Thursday the day after his match. He might not have been tested in the Second Round, but Gasquet is playing a more confident opponent than Gulbis and I think Baghdatis has enough to take a set at least.

That should be enough to give him the games to cover with the head start and I will back the Cypriot to do that in this Quarter Final.

Andreas Seppi - 3.5 games v Martin Klizan: A late break of serve while drinking in the last chance saloon helped Martin Klizan to come back and then beat Lukas Rosol in the Second Round. That is a big win for Klizan who has been struggling for wins on the Tour over the last few months and will be playing in his first Quarter Final since September and only the second since April last season.

These are the kind of wins that will build confidence for Klizan who seems to have plenty of talent but lacks consistency and plays with a low margin of error. When things tend to go wrong for Klizan, they go wrong significantly and that might be a problem against the savvy veteran Andreas Seppi.

Over the years Seppi has produced some big performances on the Tour, but has always had to work hard to protect serve. He remains in a position to be Seeded at Grand Slam events and his convincing win in the Second Round over Thiemo de Bakker will give the Italian plenty of belief in his game.

That follows a decent Australian Open and I think Seppi has the return game to give Klizan some issues. I can see him frustrating Klizan if he is making enough balls back in play and that could see Seppi get the better of his opponent who may self-destruct.

I am a little concerned that Klizan can hit a real purple patch that will see him dictate the points against the Seppi serve, but he is likely to give Seppi chances to break too and I think the higher Seeded player moves through 75, 64.

Thomaz Bellucci - 2.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: This should be a decent Quarter Final to get us underway in Quito and I do think the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci will have a little too much for Pablo Carreno Busta. The conditions in Quito are seeing the ball fly very quickly, but the speed of the courts are quicker than those you would see on other clay courts around the world.

That should aid Bellucci who definitely has the bigger first serve, especially if Carreno Busta is struggling to get his eye in as he was in his Second Round win over Inigo Cervantes. Bellucci made much lighter work of Albert Montanes and he looks to have the edge in this match.

The lefty serve is awkward to deal with at the best of times, but having that big first serve on the faster courts should lead to Bellucci having a slightly easier time holding serve than Carreno Busta. The Spaniard is very effective on the clay courts so I won't rule a line through him easily, but I do think he might be put under a little more pressure when it comes to holding serve and that can be key in the contest.

Bellucci has definitely had the more consistent results at this level than Carreno Busta and I can see him battling through with a 76, 64 win under his belt.

Victor Estrella Burgos - 2.5 games v Renzo Olivo: I have to give Renzo Olivo credit for battling past Fernando Verdasco in the Second Round despite being a break down in the final set. However he now faces Victor Estrella Burgos who has enjoyed his two appearances in Quito having won the tournament last year and come through a couple of matches this time around.

Last season Burgos had a little too much for Olivo when these players met in the Second Round but it was a tight match decided by a point here or there. I was impressed with the pop Olivo was getting out of his first serve against Verdasco, but it has already been a long week for him and there were signs of fatigue before his Spanish opponent self-destructed in the third set.

This is another big test for Olivo considering how much Burgos has enjoyed his time on these courts with just one set dropped in seven matches in Quito. He has been playing well this week too and Burgos has been holding it together on break points and he is yet to drop serve.

That will be tested by Olivo who is solid off the ground and far better than his World Ranking suggests. However, I also think Olivo will present some chances to have his own serve broken and Burgos might record the same win he had last season over Olivo as he moves into the Semi Final behind a 76, 64 win.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 2.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: Like he had to do on his way to the Final in Quito last season, Feliciano Lopez had to battle from behind to come through a match here. My one concern for Lopez is that he looked a little tired at times and I am wondering if he is 100% healthy for the event here where is defending a number of Ranking points as he tries to reverse a slip outside of the top 20 in the World Rankings.

He will be tested by Albert Ramos-Vinolas who has looked very assured of himself here this week. Ramos-Vinolas has only been broken once in his two matches here this week and the serve has been working well enough to think he can give his compatriot and fellow lefty some problems to work out in this one.

Their two previous matches have been very tight affairs too and Lopez has to be careful that he isn't playing the loose service games that almost cost him against Joao Souza in the Second Round. Lopez will earn plenty of cheap points in this one too behind a very effective first serve, but if my feeling is right that he is not fully healthy, the edge does move towards Ramos-Vinolas.

I do think the lower Ranked Spaniard can win a set in this one which should give him a strong chance of covering this number and I think Ramos-Vinolas has every chance of winning outright. Chances might come at a premium in this one but I think Ramos-Vinolas will get inside this number even in a close loss.

MY PICKS: Michael Berrer + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 Games @ 1.73 William Hill (2 Units)
Andreas Seppi - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Thomaz Bellucci - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victor Estrella Burgos - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-8, - 0.38 Units (34 Units Staked, - 1.12% Yield)

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