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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

French Open Tennis Day 4 Picks 2016 (May 25th)

So the last month has been inconsistent with my timings and getting posts out there and some are perhaps wondering what has been happening.

First things first- on May 1st I attended my own wedding (would have been very awkward if I hadn't attended) and that was followed by a two week honeymoon.

As soon as I got back, my brother and sister in law had their first child and another big moment for the family means my attention has gone towards the new arrival.

Things are definitely settling down as we reach the final few days of May which means picks from the French Open tennis as well as the Champions League Final and NBA Play Offs.

Next month will clearly be all about the Copa America, European Championships, grass court tennis leading up to Wimbledon and the NBA Finals and things should be a lot more settled from here on.

The biggest surprise at the French Open so far has to be the exit of Victoria Azarenka in the women's draw, although that was down to injury. The likes of Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem came through some sticky moments as did Stan Wawrinka earlier in the week, but the majority of the big names have made it through to the Second Round.

Matches should be getting a little more interesting now, although the big ones are set for later this week as the tournament progresses.

Kei Nishikori - 7.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: Both Kei Nishikori and Andrey Kuznetsov came through First Round matches without breaking too much of a sweat. Now they meet in the Second Round and Nishikori is unsurprisingly a strong favourite to progress, a worthy place for the Number 5 Seed in Roland Garros.

It has taken Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (twice) to end Kei Nishikori's runs on the clay courts so far this season and Kuznetsov is not up to that level. I do think the Russian is a solid player but I am also of the belief that he is better on the faster surfaces and that is where I think Nishikori will have the edge in the contest.

Some of the defeats that Kuznetsov has had on the surface has shown his limitations on the clay and Nishikori is more than good enough to expose those. He will be under some pressure on the serve, but Nishikori has the return to really hurt Kuznetsov too.

I can see Nishikori coming through in straight sets in this one and I do think he can win one of those with a double break of serve. I like the World Number 5 to come through with a 63, 63, 64 win in this one.

Richard Gasquet - 8.5 games v Bjorn Fratangelo: Winning the Savannah Challenger helped Bjorn Fratangelo earn his way into the main draw at the French Open. He surprised Sam Querrey in the First Round, but it is a big ask for Fratangelo to get past Richard Gasquet who had been in good form in seeing off a dangerous Thomaz Bellucci.

The home favourite will have all the support behind him and should have the clay court experience to make this another fairly comfortable day in the office.

It has to be said that Fratangelo has had some solid results on the clay at the Challenger level. That means he will be anything but a pushover, but Gasquet is a considerable step up from the normal level of competition he faces and is also someone who has won plenty of matches on the surface.

Some of the defeats and the margin of those defeats that Fratangelo has suffered in the last few weeks on the clay would be a big worry for me. If Gasquet is serving well enough, he should have enough in the locker to come through with a 63, 62, 64 win.

John Isner - 2.5 games v Kyle Edmund: Not many people would have been surprised that John Isner needed a couple of tie-breakers on his way through to the Second Round. It was a tough match against John Millman and Kyle Edmund should pose more questions as he has plenty of good experiences to fall back upon on the clay courts.

Edmund won a title on the clay courts during the last few weeks, albeit at Challenger level, and he should be able to give Isner plenty to think about if he is serving well. However the big question is whether Edmund can deal with the monster Isner serve which can be a huge weapon even on this surface.

Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer would be the first to tell you that and Isner is a big challenge for the young British player to overcome. The big serve can build pressure on his opponents and Isner has managed to eventually find the breaks of serve he need as the matches go into the third and fourth sets.

I expect that to be the case here as Isner perhaps wins a couple of tie-breakers before finding a late break of serve to help him get over this number. I do think the American is the likely winner of the match with his experience and bigger weapons keeping Edmund on the defensive, but it might be a fairly long match with those tie-breakers likely being key.

Simona Halep - 6.5 games v Zarina Diyas: There have been two previous meetings between these players and both times it is Simona Halep who has won by a considerable margin. I think the clay courts certainly suit her more than Zarina Diyas and I expect the gap in class between them to show up on Wednesday.

While Halep was winning the Madrid Premier Event, Diyas has been struggling on the ITF circuit and I think that difference in levels will be an issue for the latter.

The key to the previous matches between the players has been the fact that Halep is more consistent from the base line. Neither player has a dominating serve so that ability to dictate from the back of the court is very important and Halep should have plenty of opportunities to break serve in this one.

That should be the reason the Number 6 Seed is able to come through and move into the Third Round. As long as Halep can control things in the manner expected, I am looking for her to come through with a 62, 63 win.

Sam Stosur - 4.5 games v Shuai Zhang: No one will forget the run that Shuai Zhang had at the Australian Open but she has struggled to reach those heights in the four months since. The clay courts don't exactly suit Zhang's style of play so we may see better in the coming weeks as the Tour moves back to the grass and then hard courts and I do think Sam Stosur can come through this Second Round match.

The Australian made harder work of her First Round match than some would have thought but she has moved through which is the most important thing. The serve is still a serious weapon on the clay as it can kick up some, but Stosur has to show more consistency off the ground if she is going to make a real impact in Roland Garros.

Zhang had lost three clay court matches in a row before her own First Round win and the level of opponent has increased significantly in this one.

It will come down to how well Stosur can protect her own serve if she is going to cover this number of games. If she can keep Zhang at bay, I do think Stosur will have her chances to break serve and she should be able to come through with a 75, 63 win.

Caroline Garcia + 3.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: The Number 2 Seeded Agnieszka Radwanska is considered a real contender to win the title in Roland Garros, but her Second Round match couldn't be much tougher. There is a lot of hope surrounding Caroline Garcia and what she can do for French tennis although she is yet to start fulfilling her potential on a consistent basis.

Winning the title in Strasbourg last week will have given Garcia a real boost of confidence to take into the French Open and she can open the draw if she can win this match.

That won't be easy, but her matches with Radwanska have been very competitive in the past and that win in Strasbourg should mean Garcia will have the belief to earn the upset. There hasn't been a lot of tennis played by Radwanska over the last few weeks on the clay courts which makes her vulnerable even if she was a convincing First Round winner.

This match has all the hallmarks of being a competitive one and I think we will likely see a third set needed to separate them. Both players have every chance of winning the match and that makes the games being given to Garcia very appealing and I will back the Frenchwoman to keep this one close.

MY PICKS: Kei Nishikori - 7.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 8.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
John Isner - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia + 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

French Open Update: 2-4, - 4.4 Units (12 Units Staked, - 36.67% Yield)

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