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Monday, 30 May 2016

French Open Tennis Day 10 Picks 2016 (May 31st)

For the first time in exactly sixteen years, the French Open had a complete wipeout of a day thanks to the rain in Paris and now there will be some fingers being crossed that the rain will move on so the tournament can get on schedule for Tuesday.

With the way the day looks set to pan out, I think the organisers will simply be hoping to get the Fourth Round matches completed on Tuesday and then look to play the Quarter Finals all on Wednesday. There are a couple of Men's Quarter Finals scheduled for Tuesday that will potentially be played if there are enough breaks in the weather and the speed in which the earlier matches on those courts are completed, but the feeling is that Roland Garros will do well to get through all the Fourth Round matches.


Thanks to the rain, I am also waiting for a number of picks to be completed and I am providing a link to the picks for Day 9 which was completely rained out. You can read those picks here.

I am going to make a couple of picks from the two Men's Quarter Finals that have been scheduled for Tuesday as both Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray hope to get a step on Novak Djokovic by getting through and earning plenty of rest ahead of the weekend. Of course Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Richard Gasquet will have plenty to say on Tuesday and both of those matches look like interesting ones while we wait for the rest of the Quarter Final line up to be completed.

Garbine Muguruza and Shelby Rogers might have expected to play too, but there are four ladies in the bottom half of the draw still waiting to complete their Fourth Round matches and the organisers have made the right decision in leaving all of the Women's Quarter Finals until Wednesday.


Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Richard Gasquet: The big Quarter Final for the home fans is the one involving their last hope in the Men's draw when Richard Gasquet takes on Andy Murray, the World Number 2. This is the furthest that Gasquet has reached in the French Open in his career and he has to make sure that he is not emotionally spent after beating Kei Nishikori on Sunday in the Fourth Round.

The rain might be a good thing for Gasquet who could perhaps do with another day off the court to compose himself and get ready for this Quarter Final from a mental standpoint even more than a physical one. There is a chance the Frenchman would get his wish to the disappointment of the fans who have tickets for the Philippe-Chatrier Court on Tuesday, but even with that in mind it will be a big test for him to beat someone like Andy Murray.

It is Murray who has won the last five matches between these players and Murray is also 2-1 up on the clay courts with both of those wins coming at the French Open. The last couple of Rounds at the French Open this season won't have been too taxing from a physical position for Murray, even if he had to deal with totally different players than the one he will see in the Quarter Final.

I do think Gasquet can win a set in this one on his current form, but beating Murray still looks a big ask for him. When the rallies get beyond the first four shots, you would think Murray is the more capable player and can wear down an opponent who has had physical problems in the past in the longer format of the game.

Murray has to improve the second serve if he is going to win this tournament, but I think he can eventually get the better of Gasquet in this one and come through with a 63, 36, 63, 63 win.


Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 6.5 games v Stan Wawrinka: The layers will have been as surprised as the fans to see Albert Ramos-Vinolas make it through to the Quarter Finals in Roland Garros. The Spaniard is most comfortable on the clay courts so perhaps it isn't as much of a surprise to himself, but Ramos-Vinolas will have to dig deep again if he is going to extend his stay at the expense of the defending Champion.

Stan Wawrinka has had some difficult moments through the draw, but he has come through those to reach the Quarter Final again. At this Stage of any tournament he begins to be really dangerous and Wawrinka might be the favourite to come out of the bottom half of the draw for the second season in a row.

He crushed Ramos-Vinolas for the loss of just two games when they met in Geneva ahead of the French Open, but that is the exception in his six wins over the Spaniard. The majority of those matches have been very competitive and I am going to put it down to a bad day in the office for Ramos-Vinolas who I think will be a lot better in this one.

The heavy conditions might not bother either player, but I can see Wawrinka making a few more errors than normal under these conditions. That should give Ramos-Vinolas a chance to perhaps win a set as he had in two of three matches against Wawrinka on clay before the beating he took in Geneva.

The Spaniard has a lefty serve that can put him in a strong position in points when he is in top form and I think the biggest issue for him may be dealing with the nerves of a maiden Grand Slam Quarter Final. I don't think he will have enough to beat Wawrinka in this one and surprise the defending Champion as he did Milos Raonic in the Fourth Round, but Ramos-Vinolas has enough to get within this number by forcing a tie-breaker and keeping himself competitive through this Quarter Final.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 6.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)

French Open Tennis Day 9 Picks 2016 (May 30th)

The last few days have been very frustrating when it comes to the picks as I haven't really had a lot of luck on my side and mixing that with bad picks equals a difficult time.

We now get into the second week at the French Open and I am hoping I can get some better results behind me after the last few days have knocked the tournament into a losing position which is not where I want to be at this Grand Slam.

The next few days might be heavily affected by the rain in Paris though and I am not sure how many of the remaining Fourth Round matches will be played on Monday when the rain is expected to settle in through the day. We still have two Fourth Round matches to be completed in the Women's draw that the organisers will be under pressure to get completed to ensure those four women are not put in a really difficult position when it comes to trying to win the title here.


I will be looking for a better day from the picks that had a rough outing on Sunday as I look to get back into a strong position for the week. The Fourth Round matches on Monday look very interesting and it should be a fun day of tennis for the fans in attendance if the weather does allow for some play to be commence.


David Goffin Win 3-1 v Ernests Gulbis: The first match on the Philippe-Chatrier Court will see David Goffin and Ernests Gulbis meet after differing Third Round matches. Both won the first two matches in Paris in straight sets but Goffin had to dig deep to beat Nicolas Almagro in five sets, while Gulbis was the beneficiary of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's retirement before the first set was completed.

The big question here is whether Goffin has had something taken out of the tank against what should be a physically fit Gulbis. We have seen some players affected by their long matches despite having a day rest between matches and there might even be some hope in the Goffin camp for some rain to offer him a little more rest.

I am not convinced that Goffin should not be ready to play anyway because the match with Almagro was not one that went deep into the sets and so I do expect the best from the Belgian. This is a tough match for him with Gulbis talking about feeling like he is getting back to his best, but I do think Goffin can wear him down although I wouldn't be surprised if he was to drop another set here.

This should be quite a good watch when it comes to the tennis being played by the two players, but I will have a small interest on Goffin coming through this one in four sets. He looks the better player, but his serve can be a weakness at times and Gulbis can put together some strong moments to take a set, although ultimately I think Goffin will wear him down in those four sets.


Dominic Thiem - 6.5 games v Marcel Granollers: When Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament, it gave someone like Dominic Thiem the chance to really prove he is ready to take the next step in his career. His opponent in the Fourth Round is Marcel Granollers who has won one match when his opponent retired and was the beneficiary of Nadal's withdrawal prior to their Third Round match.

It is Thiem who has won all three previous matches between these players and all of those wins have come on the clay courts in 2014. Since then the Austrian looks a much improved player and I think Granollers is going to need all of his clay court experience to give himself a chance in this one.

The Spaniard can't be underestimated having reached the Quarter Final in the Monte Carlo Masters, although it has to be said that Granollers is a better Doubles player than a Singles one these days. My one concern for Thiem has to be the amount of tennis he has had to play over the last couple of weeks as he won the title in Nice in the week prior to the beginning of the French Open.

However he has shown some real strength in his wins so far this week as Thiem has twice dropped the first set in matches but then gone on to take control of those matches. I think the first set could be tight in this one too as Thiem tries to get used to the heavy conditions that are likely to be around in Paris, but I can then see him taking control of proceedings with Granollers' serve vulnerable.

That should lead to Thiem coming through this one with a 75, 63, 63 kind of win.


Novak Djokovic - 9.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: The poor weather in Paris saw Novak Djokovic rushing through his Third Round match in double time and I can see him looking to get on the front foot in this one. The match up with Roberto Bautista Agut is one that some of the top players have enjoyed and Novak Djokovic is no different having won all four previous matches between the two.

What makes the Bautista Agut game one that the top players enjoy? The Spaniard is a solid competitor but he simply doesn't have the firepower to compete with those at the top and his serve is vulnerable, while Bautista Agut has to work hard for every point he earns.

The match at the US Open last year was a very tight one but Novak Djokovic has plenty of 6-1 and 6-2 sets under his belt against Bautista Agut including a crushing win at the Madrid Masters. The US Open match saw Djokovic struggling to impose his serve on proceedings, but the two matches around that one has seen Djokovic secure a large percentage of the points on serve which has helped him move clear of Bautista Agut.

With the weather as it is, I am expecting a focused Djokovic to come out and prove too good for Bautista Agut and cover a big number behind a 61, 64, 63 win.


David Ferrer-Tomas Berdych Under 40.5 Total Games: David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych have met thirteen times in the past and it is the Spaniard who leads 7-6, although Berdych has won three of the last four including on the clay in Madrid earlier this month. Surprisingly that means Berdych leads Ferrer 3-2 on the clay courts, although the player from the Czech Republic is a fairly significant underdog in this Fourth Round match.

After parting ways with his Coach, Berdych has flown under the radar in Paris with not a lot of people having faith in him going all the way. He did have an impressive win over Pablo Cuevas in the Third Round and Berdych will believe he can get the better of Ferrer who has been a little up and down in his form in recent weeks.

Even here in Paris Ferrer has perhaps not been as strong behind his serve as he would have liked and the Spaniard has to be careful in this match against the big serving Berdych. Ferrer has only dropped one set so far this week, but he has had to battle back in some of those sets he has won to come through to take them.

I do think this match is likely to go four sets, but I still can't help thinking that this is too many games in the 'total games' market. The lack of confidence in the Berdych game and Ferrer's vulnerable serve could lead to a couple of sets being split between them by wide margins and it would likely need this match going to five sets to cover this number.

I am leaning towards Berdych perhaps surprising Ferrer here, but my overriding feeling is that this will go three or four sets and we won't see this total games number covered.


Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Elina Svitolina: After two very easy wins, Serena Williams was pushed all the way in the Third Round against Kristina Mladenovic. It was only the battling heart and the talent Williams has that prevented her from dropping the first set in that match and all of the difficulties that would have brought her in trying to come back from a set down.

Coming through difficult matches during a Grand Slam is a part of the two weeks that any player spends at this level and Williams has been through many of those moments and then gone on to win the title. There is a feeling that Williams will suffer from some nerves in trying to get to 22 Grand Slam titles, but I think she will put in a better performance in this Fourth Round against Elina Svitolina.

Not many would have picked Svitolina to come through the draw to be the opponent Serena needs to face at this Stage, but she has played well so far in Paris. Playing well is good enough to beat many players, but Svitolina will need to raise her levels if she is going to upset Serena who has won all three previous matches between them.

The surprise that Svitolina has reached this Stage also comes from a poor clay court season with some heavy losses in Madrid and Rome. Playing the defending Champion looks a big test for Svitolina and I think it will be hard for her to keep this one competitive if she drops the first set. I believe Serena Williams will come through this Fourth Round match with a 64, 62 win as she wears down Svitolina.


Venus Williams + 3.5 games v Timea Bacsinszky: I am not surprised that the layers saw this as a very close match considering that the clay courts probably give Timea Bacsinszky the edge against Venus Williams. Even with that in mind, I was surprised to see Venus Williams as a significant underdog in this one and I like the American with the games in this one.

The clay courts might not suit Venus Williams, but she is still able to put together some very strong periods on the surface which could make this a lot of games for Bacsinszky to cover. The latter is the better overall performer on the surface, but she does offer chances on her serve and a big serving display from the American will give the veteran a chance of securing an upset.

It most definitely gives Venus Williams a chance to win a set although my concern remains that she drops a set with a couple of breaks of serve being handed over to Bacsinszky. We saw that against Alize Cornet in the second set of their match before Venus Williams regained control of the match, but that won't be as easy against someone like Bacsinszky who has had success at the French Open in the past.

The heavier conditions that could be in play on Monday would make it a little more difficult for Venus Williams, but I think she has played well enough this week to keep this one competitive. I won't rule out the upset even if the conditions are not quite to her liking, but I will take the games here and look for a tight three setter between these players at the least.


Yulia Putintseva + 3.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: This has already been a very good week for Yulia Putintseva, but I don't believe it is definitely coming to an end in this Fourth Round against Carla Suarez Navarro. Putintseva has been in very good form so far in Paris and she has come through her three matches while dropping just eight games and has the firepower to make life very uncomfortable for Suarez Navarro.

This has not been the best clay court season for Putintseva but she does have a couple of Quarter Final appearances to her name, although failure to Qualify for Rome was a disappointment. The young player will need to use all of her power and shot making ability to get into this one and anything less than her best will mean Suarez Navarro is the big favourite to progress.

However Putintseva can win a set in this one at the least if she is at her best although Suarez Navarro is playing on her favoured surface and has previous strong results at the French Open. Suarez Navarro has needed three sets to get through two of her three matches so far in the tournament while it was a relatively disappointing clay court season for her too.

The Suarez Navarro serve is definitely vulnerable to the power that Putintseva has on her side of the court, but the heavier conditions might mean she is pushing to attack the lines and leads to unforced errors. Keeping in control of her game is very important, but doing that will give Putintseva the chance to keep this close and make this number of games appealing to have in the bank.


Madison Keys - 3.5 games v Kiki Bertens: The Third Round saw Kiki Bertens have to play eighteen games in the final set to earn her place in the Fourth Round and the question has to be about how much she has left in the tank. She won the title last week in Nuremberg after coming through the Qualifiers and having a ten match winning run behind her means there has to be some type of physical toll that has been taken on her.

With a day of rest, Bertens might be hoping the expected rain does come down on Monday to give her a little more time to get physically ready for the test that Madison Keys will present. A strong run in Rome has shown Keys she is more than capable of playing on the clay courts even if her game looks more suited to the faster surfaces.

If the American is serving well, she will put Bertens under pressure as mental and physical exhaustion begins to take its toll on the young Dutch player who will be making a significant move up the World Rankings next week. This has been a tremendous clay court season for Bertens, but I can't help think that she might have left something on the court in her win over Daria Kasatkina and that may show up here.

At times Bertens will hold her own, but I think eventually she might struggle to deal with the power Keys brings to the court. With the physical effort she has already put in to the last two weeks, Bertens' best chance may be hoping for rain and this match to be suspended until Tuesday, but I still believe Keys will have too much and come through 64, 63.

MY PICKS: David Goffin Win 3-1 @ 3.80 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Dominic Thiem - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 9.5 Games @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
David Ferrer-Tomas Berdych Under 40.5 Total Games @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Venus Williams + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Yulia Putintseva + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

French Open Update: 16-19, - 8.72 Units (70 Units Staked, - 12.46% Yield)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

French Open Tennis Day 8 Picks 2016 (May 29th)

It was a frustrating Saturday for the picks when it is all said and done and that has knocked the way the French Open has gone for me in the first week of the tournament.

I am disappointed that Venus Williams had a bagel to her name but didn't get close to covering because she somehow let Alize Cornet take a 6-1 set to her name. David Goffin had chances to win in three or four sets but had to come through in five sets and backing him to cover the games would have been a winner.

Ana Ivanovic struggled in her loss and the only pick I feel I misread was the Serena Williams one although she had 0-40 on two different occasions without breaking which would have given her the chance to cover.

Hopefully the rest of the tournament is not going to result in as many poor bits of luck as I feel I may have had the last couple of days. The Fourth Round begins on Sunday and I am looking for something of a return to form.


Kei Nishikori - 3.5 games v Richard Gasquet: The big question most of us will have going into this Fourth Round is how much energy did Kei Nishikori exert in seeing off Fernando Verdasco a couple of days ago? Is there enough energy left for Nishikori to recover from that Third Round win and does he have enough to beat Richard Gasquet who will be backed by a passionate home crowd?

On the face of things this would be the kind of match up that Nishikori would seemingly enjoy having beaten Gasquet in Madrid and Rome already this season. However it is the Frenchman who has won six previous matches against Nishikori and this easily looks the pick of the Men's Fourth Round matches to be played on Sunday.

This is going to be a battle with both players likely relying on their ability off the ground to win the points as both have decent first serves and attackable second serves. Nishikori has the edge with those two wins behind him on the clay courts this past month, but he has to have recovered from a tough Third Round match.

The day of rest between matches might have been enough though and I think Gasquet will struggle to bridge the gap that saw him lose all four sets to Nishikori in Madrid and Rome. Those sets were won thanks to Nishikori being the superior player from the back of the court and I think he can end another home favourite's hopes of winning the title in Paris with a comprehensive win.


Svetlana Kuznetsova + 3.5 games v Garbine Muguruza: No one will ever forget the way Garbine Muguruza dismissed Serena Williams here at the French Open and she is a dark horse to win the title. In fact the winner of this Fourth Round match might feel they can go all the way to the Final at the least as Svetlana Kuznetsova has been rolling back the clock on her own form.

Kuznetsova is a former winner at Roland Garros and she has been in very good form in her last two tournaments which makes her another dark horse in what is an open Women's draw. Nothing too much has fazed her this week although it has to be noted that Muguruza is by far the biggest threat she has faced.

The Spaniard has won brutally one sided matches in the last two Rounds although again it has to be said that this is a level upwards in terms of opponents for Muguruza.

Both players will feel that they are in for a tough test in this one and I do think it will be a close match. I do think Kuznetsova has been playing well enough to win a set which should give her a chance of covering this number in this Fourth Round match and I will back the former Champion here to keep this one competitive throughout.


Irina Camelia-Begu - 3.5 games v Shelby Rogers: No matter when this tournament ends for Shelby Rogers, this has already been a successful Slam for the young American. She was completely in control against Petra Kvitova who she handed out two bagels in three sets and Rogers will come in with plenty of confidence.

Even with that in mind, Rogers has yet to really prove she is very comfortable on the clay courts unlike her opponent Irina Camelia-Begu who had a very strong run in Rome in preparation for the French Open. As good as the results have been for the American this week, Rogers will have to step up her game against Begu even if the latter has had to play three sets in all three Rounds in Paris so far.

Every win for Rogers has come as the underdog so she won't mind being placed in that position again, but I do think she has been a special run that has to come to an end. While Rogers does have a big game with the heavy serve and forehand, I think she lacks in consistency and someone like Begu can make life very difficult for her on this surface.

As long as Begu doesn't hand over easy games like Kvitova did, I think she can find her way to a 76, 63 win in this one and move into the Quarter Finals.


Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Sam Stosur: When you look at the last two performances put up by both Simona Halep and Sam Stosur, you may think the Australian should be a lot closer in terms of pricing than she is. Halep had to battle through her Third Round match, while Sam Stosur came through as the underdog, but I still think the Romanian can record a fairly straight-forward win in this one.

For all of the strength Stosur has in the service department, she is not someone Halep will look at being overpowering off the ground as her opponent in the last Round was. The serve is a big weapon for Stosur and can set up some easy points when it is firing, but Halep is a very solid returner and will feel her last three wins over Stosur will give her a mental edge in the contest.

You know Halep will have to work hard to retain serve which makes this a big number for her to cover, but I think she is certainly the better player when it comes to general rallying in this match. Stosur also has to make sure she can put her one-sided hammering in Madrid at the hands of Halep behind her if she is going to be competitive in this one and it could all be a tough task on the day.

When it comes to those rallies, I do think Halep wins more of the points than she loses and that can make a difference. If Stosur brings her very best serving day to the court this could be a tight match, but I think Halep is the stronger player and will find a 64, 63 win from this one.


Agnieszka Radwanska - 5.5 games v Tsvetana Pironkova: I was a little surprised with the way Tsvetana Pironkova beat Sloane Stephens in the Third Round, but a lot of that was down to how poor the latter was. Now the Bulgarian faces a big challenge in Agnieszka Radwanska who has come through the draw with relative ease and is deserving of being a big favourite in this one.

The clay courts have not normally suited the Pironkova game and the slower conditions that should be around on Sunday makes it tougher for her. She hadn't shown a lot of form on the clay courts over the last few weeks before winning three matches her over the last week and I think Pironkova has done well to take advantage of the draw she has been given.

It won't be as easy to do that against Radwanska who has been playing very well this week and dropped just the one set on her way through to the Fourth Round. While the French Open hasn't been as strong an event for the Pole as it may be expected to be, this is a surface that is far more suited to Radwanska than it is to Pironkova.

Radwanska has a very strong record against Pironkova and has won all four previous matches between them on clay. Three of those matches have been fairly one-sided in favour of Radwanska and I think she will have too much on the day in a 64, 62 win that puts her into the Quarter Final.

MY PICKS: Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova + 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Irina Camelia-Begu - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

French Open Update: 16-16, - 2.72 Units (64 Units Staked, - 4.25% Yield)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Champions League Final 2016 (May 28th)

The Champions League Final is once again going to be competed by Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid for the second time in three years.

Can Atletico Madrid earn a measure of revenge for the late way they were denied in Lisbon, or will Real Madrid make it eleven times a European Cup winner? We will find out on Saturday in Milan.


Real Madrid
If you go back around five months, I don't think there would have been many people tipping Real Madrid to win too many trophies come the end of the season as Barcelona steam-rolled all around them. The last couple of months has seen a real upturn in form that saw Real Madrid only just miss out on winning La Liga from under their great rivals' noses, but now they have a chance of winning the biggest competition in European Football.

This is the second time in three years that Real Madrid have reached the Champions League Final and two years ago they won their 10th European Cup under Carlo Ancelotti. Now Zinedine Zidane looks to write his name in the Real Madrid history books by winning the Champions League as a player and then as a manager of the club.

Real Madrid have been beaten in 1 of their 12 Champions League games this season, but they have only just got through the last couple of Rounds. After losing 2-0 in Wolfsburg, Real Madrid beat the German side 3-2 on aggregate in the Quarter Final before a narrow 1-0 win on aggregate over Manchester City in the Semi Final.

Form has not been an issue for Real Madrid to close out the season as they are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions since their 2-0 loss in Wolfsburg. Real Madrid have won 9 of those 10 games and have won 4 in a row since the goalless draw with Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium in the Champions League Semi Final First Leg.

The big news out of Madrid is the injury scare suffered by Cristiano Ronaldo, although the Portuguese superstar has said he will not miss the Final. Raphael Varane has been ruled out.


Atletico Madrid
All credit has to be given to Diego Simeone for the job he has been doing as manager of Atletico Madrid as his side look for revenge for their Champions League Final defeat to Real Madrid two seasons ago. Simeone might be one of the sought after names in management, but his loyalty to Atletico Madrid has to be admired, while an ability to replace the top names that have left the club and to maintain standards is a testament to the job he has done at the Vicente Calderon.

There will be some history that Atletico Madrid are trying to make as the club have lost both of their previous European Cup Finals and will be looking to win the competition for the first time. The defeat to Real Madrid two years ago was particularly galling as Atletico led with just a couple of minutes left in the game before falling apart in extra time and many of those players are still in the Atletico squad.

No one will be able to say Atletico Madrid don't deserve to win the Champions League if they do go on and take the trophy home in Milan. The side have already beaten the two previous favourites in Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Quarter Final and Semi Final respectively so going into this one as the underdog will hold no fear for Simeone or his players.

Atletico Madrid had won 7 games in a row in all competitions before suffering back to back away losses at Levante and Bayern Munich, the former effectively ending their La Liga title hopes. There have been two weeks for Atletico Madrid to prepare for the Champions League Final and they did end the season with a 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo.


Tiago has been out since November but did play against Celta Vigo so should be in the squad for the Final.


Head to Head
Atletico Madrid scored late to earn a 1-1 home draw with Real Madrid in the League, but they did win 0-1 at the Santiago Bernebeu in February.


These are closely matched teams with the last four games producing a total of four goals.


Prediction
For the second time in three seasons, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will take their city rivalry onto the European stage as they contest the Champions League Final. The philosophies of the two clubs might be at opposite spectrums, but both have been very successful with the way they want to impose their game on opponents and it will be the team that manages to do that who will win this game.

There is some revenge at play for Atletico Madrid.

Two years ago they led going into injury time of the Champions League Final before a Sergio Ramos equaliser. Diego Godin has admitted it took some time to get over that disappointment as Atletico Madrid had nothing left to give in injury time in an eventual 4-1 loss to Real Madrid.

Winning this in 90 minutes is the key for Atletico Madrid this time in Milan too. The defensive concentration and hard work is tough enough to maintain over that time, but the extra thirty minutes in extra time can prove critical as they did in 2014 and Diego Simeone might be a little more cautious with his substitutions this year.

Confidence shouldn't be an issue for Atletico Madrid who have beaten both Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last two Rounds to reach the Final. One concern might be that they lost both away ties in that one as they won't have the passion from the Vicente Calderon stands to call upon in this one, but Atletico Madrid also got the better of Real Madrid in their two League games.

After saying all that, it is hard not to be seduced into backing Real Madrid thanks to the attacking talent at their disposal. The injury sustained by Cristiano Ronaldo is a big concern, but I can't see him missing this game and Real Madrid should be able to call upon their Portuguese superstar as well as Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Those trio of players can create a moment of magic to win any game, but I think Atletico Madrid are used to dealing with them which is a huge mental advantage. Not facing them regularly could be intimidating, but Diego Simeone and his players should be completely at ease in knowing what they need to do to give themselves the best chance to win.

And Atletico Madrid do have players like Antoine Griezmann who have the potential to be a match winner too.

My feeling is that Atletico Madrid might have learned something from two seasons ago and I do think they can cause the upset in this one. They've done that in two straight Rounds and I think this can underline the superlative job that Simeone has done at the Vicente Calderon by winning the Champions League.


There will be scares and some desperate defending, but this is a team that has shown they can do that with their win at the Santiago Bernebeu in February. I do think Atletico Madrid have to win this in 90 minutes, or hope to have the energy to last to penalties, and I will back the underdogs for a small interest.



Earlier in the day on Saturday, the 'Richest Game in Football' will also be played in the Championship Play Off Final between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday.

I think those teams are very closely matched and we could see extra time and potentially penalties in that one if I am correct in my prediction which can be found below.

Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday PickThe Championship Play Off Final has regularly been described as the 'richest game in football', but even that tagline might have to be changed to describe the new financial rewards the Premier League will have next season.

While the players don't worry about off the field finances, there is no doubting there will be tension in this fixture as both Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday will be desperate to get back into the Premier League.

Both League games have been closely contested affairs and it is hard to see the Wembley Play Off Final being much different. Draws have been something like a Sheffield Wednesday speciality this season and I think they will make sure they are hard to beat in this one and hope to frustrate Hull City into a mistake.

Both teams have played better in front of their own fans through the last few weeks of the season and the last few Play Off Finals have proven to be tight affairs right down to the end. In fact a couple of the recent ones have needed goals in the final few minutes to decide them and I think this one is going to be very close too.

Picking a winner isn't as easy as the layers think with Hull City as a relatively strong favourite to win in ninety minutes. Personally I think we are going to need more time to separate the teams and backing the draw for a small interest is my call for the early game on Saturday prior to the Champions League Final.

MY PICK: Atletico Madrid @ 3.40 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Hull City-Sheffield Wednesday Draw @ 3.25 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

French Open Tennis Day 7 Picks 2016 (May 28th)

What a truly dreadful Friday with some really poor picks coupled in with those that didn't receive the luck to get through.

Petra Kvitova, Gilles Simon and Sloane Stephens just go in the rubbish pile.

Lucie Safarova just couldn't find the way to break through Sam Stosur despite being in a strong position in the second set, while John Isner had to go 2-1 down in sets before coming back and losing just six games in the final two sets to come through in five sets.

Isner was another who missed big opportunities to move into a 2-0 lead in sets, and the other let down was Kei Nishikori who was up 2-0 in sets and cruising before suddenly losing his arm and failing to hold serve for much of the next two sets.


Brutal day, but hopefully it won't get much worse than that and I have hit the bottom of the barrel.

With Saturday scheduled for another load of Third Round matches, I am hoping for much better than what was produced on Friday.


Dominic Thiem - 5.5 games v Alexander Zverev: With Rafael Nadal exiting the draw with an injury, there is a chance for one of the young guns on the Tour to make a big impact at Grand Slam level. Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev are part of the next generation and perhaps even the stand out talents of their generation and the winner of this Third Round match will believe they are favourites to at least reach the Quarter Final in Roland Garros.

The edge has to be given to Thiem who is a very comfortable clay court player and who has won titles on this surface. This has been a very strong clay court season for Zverev too, but it can't be ignored that two of his tournaments have been ended by Thiem including in the Final last week in Nice.

That Final did go the distance as did their first match in Munich, and I do think this match will follow a similar pattern although I am not expecting it to go five sets. The way Thiem likes to play his points means he can be a little loose with his points at time and that has allowed Zverev to get into the match early but eventually Thiem proves the difference in consistency and takes control of the match.

Out of the two players I am looking for Thiem to have more success when it comes to winning points against serve and that should help him come through in four sets. He can wear down Zverev in this one and that should be enough to see him cover this spread in a 46, 64, 64, 62 win.


David Ferrer - 5.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: Two veteran players in the Third Round of a major might consider that they don't have too many better opportunities to get into the second week of a Grand Slam. However both David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez are not your usual veterans and the two Spaniards will have some big goals even once the French Open is completed.

The edge here has to be given to Ferrer who is much more comfortable on the clay courts than his compatriot Lopez who prefers the faster surfaces. The Lopez lefty serve will give him a chance to get through some games, but Ferrer will feel he can win the baseline rallies and make it difficult for Lopez to attack the net.

I don't think there would be too many surprised faces out there if you heard that Ferrer has won all five previous matches between these players on clay, including here at the French Open a the same Round three years ago. Four of the five matches on clay have been routine wins for Ferrer and he has also beaten Lopez six times in a row which should give him the confidence to enjoy the match up he faces on Saturday.

Ferrer has been a little loose with the way he has played behind serve, but I think he wears down Lopez in this one. While I think one of the sets will be tight when Lopez finds a groove behind serve, I think Ferrer will eventually come through with a 63, 76, 64 win.


David Goffin - 1.5 sets v Nicolas Almagro: The head to head between David Goffin and Nicolas Almagro reads 0-3 in favour of  the Spaniard, but I think Goffin is a much improved player since they last met in 2013. At the same time I also think Almagro has lost a little speed in his game although the clay courts remain his favoured domain.

That has shown up in his first two wins in Paris this week as Almagro has dominated his opponents and dropped just a single set. However he will need to raise his game when facing David Goffin who has won two matches in a row in straight sets and who has had a couple of solid runs on the clay courts in preparation for the French Open.

Almagro has a definite edge in the power game with a bigger serve than Goffin and a little more on the groundstrokes on both wings. The key for Goffin is to get the Spaniard moving around the court and trying to use his consistency to wear down Almagro and this is a tight match as the layers are expecting.

I can see Almagro having his backers after two solid wins, but I think he is still trying to find his consistency after injury and that should make life difficult against someone like Goffin. I wouldn't be surprised if Almagro gets 'hot' and takes a set, but ultimately I think Goffin can wear him down and beat him for the first time in his career in three or four sets.


Ana Ivanovic - 2.5 games v Elina Svitolina: We all know the inconsistencies that exist in Ana Ivanovic's game these days, but Elina Svitolina hasn't done a lot on the clay courts this season to think she can change history. That history says Ivanovic has won all seven previous matches against Svitolina and she has only dropped one set in that time.

Their last match was played last year here at Roland Garros with Ivanovic coming through very comfortably and this is the third year in a row Svitolina will try and beat the former Champion at the French Open.

I won't take anything away from the two performances that Svitolina has had in the tournament so far, but Ivanovic has also looked fairly solid and I do give the Serb the edge. If she is looking after her serve as she has for the most part this week, Ivanovic will find her chances on the return and so looks the more likely winner again.

The layers have lost some faith in Ivanovic but I do think her belief will be strengthened by her previous results against Svitolina. I like Ivanovic to cover this small looking number and move into the Fourth Round with another solid win behind her.


Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Kristina Mladenovic: The home crowd will be firmly behind Kristina Mladenovic, but the Paris crowd is no longer as anti-Serena Williams as they once were.

The World Number 1 has been very good in the first two Rounds here following on from her title win in Rome and Serena Williams should have too much for Mladenovic. The latter has some power behind her, but she has been on the wrong end of some heavy losses on the clay courts over the last few weeks.

I am not convinced that Mladenovic has the best movement right now and someone like Serena Williams will be able to get her on the move straight off the return of serve. If Serena is serving as well as she can, the pressure will be on Mladenovic to find a way to hit the winners with first strike tennis which is tough to do on a consistent basis.

I can see Serena Williams finding a couple of breaks of serve in a single set which should set her up to cover this number and I think the American will entertain the home crowd with another interview in French as she moves into the Fourth Round.


Venus Williams - 4.5 games v Alize Cornet: There was some controversy in Alize Cornet's win over Tatjana Maria in the Second Round as she battled through cramp to win that match. Some people suggested her dramatics affected her opponent, but Cornet won't be able to rely on that against the experienced Venus Williams in this Third Round match.

The previous meetings between these players suggest it will already be a big task for Cornet who has yet to win a set against Venus Williams in ten attempts. Those five matches have all resulted in easy wins for the American although only one of those have come on the clay courts where Williams is at her weakest.

It has been a tough clay court season for Cornet, but Venus Williams has hardly pulled up any trees during that portion of the season too. However she has had a couple of solid wins this week and I think Cornet's fitness has to be a concern even if she made out she was much worse than she actually was in the Second Round.

I don't think it will always been straight forward for Venus Williams, but I think she can get the better of a player she has dominated through their careers. After some rough moments, I think Venus Williams wins this one 64, 63.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
David Goffin - 1.5 Sets @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

French Open Update: 14-12, + 1.62 Units (52 Units Staked, + 3.12% Yield)

Friday, 27 May 2016

French Open Tennis Day 6 Picks 2016 (May 27th)

After a pretty slow start to the tournament which opened with a 0-2 day, the picks are back on the right track thanks to a couple of very good days. Thursday the picks went 6-0 thanks to David Ferrer completing the sweep with a come from behind four set win and that has put the tournament in a very good position.

There are still plenty of days to go at the French Open so this isn't the time to patting myself on the back for a solid start because ultimately it is only a solid start.

Making sure I keep making the right picks is the key to keeping this going and the research into the Third Round matches to be played on Friday will hopefully pay dividends. The weather was supposed to be erratic on Thursday, but Paris managed to avoid the thunderstorms that were expected to be in the area and they will be hoping to push through all the Third Round matches scheduled for Friday before the rain comes down.


Kei Nishikori - 6.5 games v Fernando Verdasco: It has been 'easy' for both Kei Nishikori and Fernando Verdasco in the first two Rounds at Roland Garros, but this should be a much bigger test for both. Nishikori has to consider himself as a real dark horse to go all the way in Paris like his mentor Michael Chang did, but he can't overlook Verdasco who has the power game suited for the clay courts as well as being vastly experienced.

Both players will feel they have had very solid clay court campaigns heading into the French Open, although Verdasco has struggled for consistency. He is back up the World Rankings thanks to a title win in Bucharest, but early losses in three tournaments following that win shows the inconsistencies that have hit the veteran Verdasco.

He is still a dangerous customer with his lefty serve and powerful groundstrokes making him a threat through a best of five set match. Nishikori has to be aware of the potential Verdasco has coming at him from the other side of the court and he will have to deal with some sticky moments if he is perhaps not as serving as effectively as he can.

However ultimately I think Nishikori is the better player and he is capable of covering a big number even in a four set win. I can see the top ten player being able to record a couple of breaks of serve in a single set which should see him still able to cover in a 46, 64, 63, 62 win.


John Isner - 1.5 sets v Teymuraz Gabashvili: Anyone who has seen Teymuraz Gabashvili play in the past will tell you this is a player that has a wide spectrum of ability- there are some days when he looks like a top 20 player and others when it is barely understandable how Gabashvili is a professional tennis player.

So far this week in Roland Garros we have seen the best of Gabashvili who upset Benoit Paire in the Second Round. This is off the back of a really poor clay court season where Gabashvili had lost seven of eight matches during the European portion of the Tour.

Even with that in mind, the layers are not expecting this to be an easy match for the Seeded John Isner with the form that Gabashvili has shown this week. The clay courts might be the least favoured surface for Isner who hasn't spent a lot of time on the court in recent weeks, but he did have a couple of solid wins so far this week.

The serve remains a big weapon and John Isner is capable of making enough returns to give himself a chance to break serve in this one. However it is likely to come down to tie-breakers and I do think Isner is the stronger player on the court even if he was beaten on the Houston clay courts when these two players met last season.

I do think Isner can cause enough scoreboard pressure to put Gabashvili in a tough position and I like him to come through in three or four sets.


Richard Gasquet v Nick Kyrgios: This does look the pick of the Third Round matches as Richard Gasquet and Nick Kyrgios meet at the French Open after two previous memorable encounters at Wimbledon. Both of those matches at Wimbledon were memorable for showing the good and bad of Nick Kyrgios although I am not ashamed to say I am a fan and think he will be in and around the top ten for much of his career going forward.

The faster surfaces may suit his game better than the clay courts, but Kyrgios has shown he is still a very capable player on this surface too. His serve makes him dangerous and the Australian crushed Gasquet when they last met on the indoor courts of Marseille earlier this season.

However it is Gasquet who has gotten the better of Kyrgios more often than not with four wins compared to two and the Frenchman has also won both previous matches on the clay against him. He will have the home fans firmly behind him and Gasquet has shown some good form in his two wins so far this week.

This has all the makings of one of the best matches of the Third Round and I think it will likely be a close one. I do think Gasquet has the game to make enough returns against Kyrgios to give his opponent something to think about and I do think the home support might just rally Gasquet to the win as the underdog in this one.


Gilles Simon - 4.5 games v Victor Troicki: I will open up by saying I don't really have a lot of faith in either Gilles Simon or Victor Troicki and find both players can be a little untrustworthy when it comes to backing them. However there is enough evidence to think Gilles Simon can see off his opponent and become another Frenchman to reach the Fourth Round here as the home fans are desperate for a Men's winner in the main draw.

It is Simon who has won all six previous matches against Troicki and he is yet to drop a set in that time- that includes a fairly routine win over the Serb in Monte Carlo earlier in the season.

You do have to take into account that a lot of those matches took place at least five years ago and both players are much more experienced these days. However I do think Simon can expose any inconsistencies in the Troicki groundstrokes with his ability to make him play one more ball, although the fear is how much Simon's Second Round five set win has taken out of him.

I don't think either player has had a lot of success on the clay courts this season, but I think Simon can use his superior fitness and movement to cause problems for Troicki throughout. While the latter can win his first set against Simon, I do think the Frenchman can win this one 63, 64, 46, 64.


Petra Kvitova - 4.5 games v Shelby Rogers: The clay courts might not be the most favoured surface for Petra Kvitova and she might have been in inconsistent form through 2016, but I do like the match up for her in this Third Round. She faces the young American Shelby Rogers who is Ranked outside the World top 100 and who has had a pretty average clay court campaign heading into Roland Garros.

That takes nothing away from the fact that Rogers has come through two Rounds here in big upsets, but the level certainly goes up again when she meets Kvitova.

The power coming from Kvitova's side of the court can be tough to deal with, especially if she is able to keep control the unforced errors that can blight her game. She should have every chance of attacking the Rogers serve and forcing a number of break points, but covering this number will be all about Kvitova looking after her own serve.

Kvitova has still had some struggles in finding some consistent results as I have mentioned, but I do think she will be a little too good in this one. After a tight first set, I can see Kvitova taking control as she did in her Second Round win and I like Kvitova to come through with a 63, 64 win.


Lucie Safarova - 3.5 games v Sam Stosur: 2016 has been a tough season for Lucie Safarova who has been recovering from injury but her title win in Prague might be the confidence boost she needs. The tournaments in Madrid and Rome did not go to plan but Safarova was a very strong winner in the first two Rounds and she has previous of performing strongly in Paris.

There is also a feeling she likes the match up with Sam Stosur having won eleven of their previous fourteen matches including in the Final in Prague. Some of those matches have been competitive with both Safarova and Stosur owners of solid serves and being able to use that shot to set up the points for themselves, but ultimately Safarova has proved too good the majority of the time.

The lefty serve should give her an edge on the clay courts and she has to find a way to take the kicker out of Stosur's weaponry, but I do think Safarova is going to be good enough to win this match. The chances might be limited in the match which means the pressure will be on the server at those moments and I do think Safarova will have the better of those chances as the more effective returner.

I can see this being a tight match with not a lot to separate the players, but I feel Safarova can find the two more breaks needed to help her through for a 64, 64 win and a place in the Fourth Round.


Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: This is an all-Russian encounter in the Third Round in Paris and it is Svetlana Kuznetsova who is favoured. I can't argue with that considering the form that Kuznetsova has been showing while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a difficult season.

A former winner of the French Open, Kuznetsova has been showing some very strong form on the way to Roland Garros and many are tipping her as a dark horse for the title. It is an open tournament for the Women involved in Roland Garros, although beating Serena Williams is likely to be the key, something Kuznetsova has done already this season.

It won't be an easy match against Pavlyuchenkova who has some power behind her and can be difficult to stop once she gets a roll behind her. The key for Kuznetsova is to get her opponent on the move where the consistency comes down and I think she is capable of doing that if she continues playing at the level she has been.

A strong head to head for Kuznetsova over Pavlyuchenkova should also keep her in this match mentally even when things are perhaps not going her way. All four of her wins from their five previous matches have come while covering this number and I think Kuznetsova is able to do that in this one.


Sloane Stephens - 4.5 games v Tsvetana Pironkova: A win in Charleston would have given Sloane Stephens some confidence as she has begun to win titles on the WTA Tour, but the European clay is a different story. The American has not had the best time in Madrid and Rome, although she has looked strong so far this week in Paris.

Now she faces Tsvetana Pironkova in the Third Round and it is a surprise to see the Bulgarian in this Round considering she usually reserves her best form for the grass court season. This is already the first time the Bulgarian will have a winning record on the clay courts since 2008 and the win over Sara Errani in the First Round shows Pironkova is not to be discounted easily.

However she had struggled in Qualifier losses in Madrid and Rome and was beaten comfortably in those while Pironkova has lost all three previous matches against Stephens. That includes two defeats on the clay courts including a comprehensive one last year at Roland Garros when Pironkova won just five games and two of their three previous matches have seen Stephens win by a margin that covers this number of games.

The American has to serve well to give herself a chance in this one as Pironkova is a confidence based player that might be difficult to stop if she has the momentum behind her. If Stephens does serve well, I think she can come through a difficult first set before breaking through and moving away in the second set and I like Stephens to cover.

MY PICKS: Kei Nishikori - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
John Isner - 1.5 Sets @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet @ 2.10 Coral (2 Units)
Gilles Simon - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Sloane Stephens - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Betway (2 Units)

French Open Update: 12-6, + 9.22 Units (36 Units Staked, + 25.61% Yield)

Thursday, 26 May 2016

French Open Tennis Day 5 Picks 2016 (May 26th)

It was another intriguing day at the French Open on Wednesday, especially for those Andy Murray fans who saw their man fall behind in the best of five set match before heading through in five sets.

This is not the time that Murray wants to be expending as much energy as he has been, but he has gotten through which is the most important thing. Having a couple of days until Friday to recover is important for Murray as is the fact he is playing an opponent like Ivo Karlovic who won't be looking to get involved in the long draining rallies.


Other players in Murray's half of the draw that will be looking to go all the way to the Final had a much easier time on Tuesday than the World Number 2 and the majority of the big names have moved through.


The same can be said from the Women's draw where the majority of those expected to move through to the Third Round made their way past their opponents on Tuesday.


On Thursday the remaining Second Round matches are to be played, but the weather in Paris doesn't look that appealing in the next few days which can affect the schedule.


David Goffin - 7.5 games v Carlos Berlocq: This Second Round match might have been a very awkward one for David Goffin if Carlos Berlocq was at full health. However the Argentinian is still outside the top 100 in the World Rankings following an injury hit 2015 and this is a big challenge for him.

You have to give Berlocq some credit having come through the Qualifiers and then comprehensively beating Paolo Lorenzi in the First Round. Now he faces David Goffin who has reached the Quarter Final at the Rome Masters and has the kind of game that will give Berlocq some troubles.

The rallies are likely to be extended as neither player can really rely on a serve for easy points but that is where I think Goffin is going to be good enough to win more often than not. The consistency that Goffin should be able to produce through the contest will give Berlocq plenty to think about, although I do think the latter will have his moments in this match too.

When it comes down to it, I do think Goffin will likely outlast Berlocq in a straight sets win and I do think he can take one of those with two more breaks than his opponent. A 63, 63, 64 win looks to be on the card for Goffin and I will back him to cover the number.


Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Jiri Vesely: Nicolas Almagro proved me right earlier in the week when he not just covered the games as the underdog, but beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets. That is an impressive win for the Spaniard but he will need to produce his best tennis to get past Jiri Vesely in this Second Round match with the latter a very confident clay court player.

While the consistency is still lacking for Vesely through the year to move up the World Rankings into one of the Seeded spots at these Grand Slam events, it has to be noted that he did beat Novak Djokovic on the clay in Monte Carlo. That has been the high point for the player from the Czech Republic and Vesely has had a couple of poor losses over the last few weeks which would be a concern.

The lefty serve will help Vesely and he does have some power which can give Almagro something to think about, but the latter is a solid player on the clay courts when he builds some momentum up. Almagro might not have beaten someone as good as Novak Djokovic, but he did win a title in Estoril and he was an impressive winner in the First Round over Kohlschreiber when coming from a set down to win in four sets.

This is likely to be a close match between the players, but I do think Almagro is the better clay court player and that will show up on Thursday. It will potentially need four sets to separate them but I can see Almagro coming through 63, 64, 36, 63 and move into another Third Round in Roland Garros.


David Ferrer - 5.5 games v Juan Monaco: This is a big number for David Ferrer to cover when you think that I am no longer convinced the consistency that took him into the top three of the World Rankings is there any more. The Spaniard is still very capable of producing some solid results, but someone like Juan Monaco will give him a few things to think about.

However as much as Monaco is comfortable on the clay courts, he is not a player that will hit through Ferrer and that is why I think this is the kind of match the latter can still win. Previous meetings between the players have been close which isn't a surprise when you think how similarly they try and play their tennis.

Neither player has a big serve, but instead will look for their rallying ability and clay court nous to outmanoeuvre opponents and get into a position to win points. That lack of a serve for both means there will likely be a few breaks of serve and there won't be a lot to separate Monaco and Ferrer during the match at times.

The key to the match is I believe Ferrer is still the more consistent player from the back of the court and I do think he can win more of those longer rallies. Again this is likely to go into four sets, but I believe Ferrer is capable of winning one of the sets with two more breaks than Monaco which can help him come through 64, 46, 75, 62. 


Ana Ivanovic - 5.5 games v Kurumi Nara: After winning the first set in the First Round with a bagel, Ana Ivanovic made life much tougher for herself before moving into the Second Round. There is still too much inconsistency around her game which makes her a dangerous favourite to back, but I do think Ivanovic will be too good for Kurumi Nara who hasn't had much success on the clay in the last couple of seasons.

Nara was the beneficiary of a retirement in the First Round and had lost her last three clay court matches prior to that. She doesn't have a lot of power which can be a problem on the clay courts and I do think Ivanovic will be able to play a lot of first strike tennis which suit the way she wants to impose herself on this match.

The serve remains the biggest weakness for Ivanovic as the ball toss is still erratic and that leads to her getting behind on the scoreboard. It is a concern when looking for the Serbian World Number 16 to cover big spreads, but I do think Ivanovic is likely to create more break point opportunities and can break Nara two more times in one of the sets they compete in.

As a former winner in Roland Garros, Ivanovic's clay court record this season has not been the best, but I think she can be too strong for Nara and win this one 64, 62.


Madison Keys - 4.5 games v Mariana Duque-Marino: Any player that comes from South America should be comfortable on the clay courts so Mariana Duque-Marino should be a threat to Madison Keys in this Second Round match. While Duque-Marino may have the patience to extend rallies, she has to find a way to deal with the power that Keys brings to the table, the type of power that helped her reach the Final in Rome earlier this month.

That might be the stand out result either player has put together, but Duque-Marino will point to her run to the Final in Nuremberg last week as a reason not to underestimate her. Unsurprisingly the Colombian's best results have come on the clay courts and the World Number 75 is going to be more of a threat than her Ranking may suggest.

I do think Duque-Marino will give Keys some problems, but the latter has been an improving player on the surface. Her serve will still be a big weapon on the surface if it is firing and has the potential to set up cheap points as she showed in Rome.

I think the power Keys has will give her every chance to attack the Duque-Marino serve and put her opponent under pressure, likely earning the majority of break points. As long as the American doesn't serve poorly or go looking to finish points too early on her own serve, I think she can look after that aspect of her game and Keys can win this 63, 64.


Venus Williams - 2.5 games v Louisa Chirico: These two American players might be at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to where their careers currently stand, but I am surprised that Venus Williams is not a bigger favourite to win this. Yes she isn't at her best on the clay courts, but Louisa Chirico will have to deal with the mental pressure of playing one of the Williams sisters who have done so much for Women's tennis in the United States.

I think the layers have been swayed by what was a very good run for Chirico at the Madrid Masters when she reached the Semi Final but the conditions there are much different than in Paris. Chirico has come through three Qualifiers and then won a First Round match over Lauren Davis in three sets, but she had to go deep into the third set and I do wonder if some energy has been sapped from her.

There is some power in the Chirico game that will give Venus Williams issues, but I do wonder how she will deal with the power that will come back her way. There will be some respect for Venus Williams which might create mental obstacles to overcome and I do like the chances of the older American to work her way through this match.

It is clear that Venus Williams is not quite as comfortable on the clay as the hard and grass courts which gives Chirico a chance of the upset. However I am not convinced she should be considered as potentially competitive as she is in this match simply because Chirico has not been consistent on the clay courts and I do think Venus Williams wins this one and covers what doesn't look the biggest number.

MY PICKS: David Goffin - 7.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

French Open Update: 6-6, - 1.50 Units (24 Units Staked, - 6.25% Yield)
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