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Monday, 26 September 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (September 26th)

The tennis season enters the final six-eight weeks of the 2016 year and that means one final swing through Asia and Europe for the players on the two Tours. Most of the big names will make sure they continue playing as both the Tour Finals are upcoming, while this week we have one of the bigger events left on the schedule before that at the WTA Wuhan tournament.

Most of the big names on the WTA Tour are in action through the week in Wuhan, but there are three other tournaments that are also being played with two of those on the ATP Tour.

I will have picks through the week if I find any matches that are appealing.

Shuai Zhang - 3.5 games v Shuai Peng: Two compatriots will play one another in their home country in one of the bigger tournaments played in China. It is Shuai Zhang who is far higher in the World Rankings thanks to injuries suffered by Shuai Peng which has seen her own Ranking drop outside the top 200, but that is not reason enough for this pick.

Instead I will point out the superior form that Zhang has been showing since the US Open as she has recorded back to back tournaments with Semi Final runs. Her confidence is much stronger this year heading into the Asian swing thanks to some strong runs in 2016 and Zhang has put together some impressive wins over the last couple of weeks.

On the other hand, Peng has been playing at a lower level than her opponent and has been in a poor run since returning from injury. I do think Peng's movement around the court can extract some errors from the Zhang game, but she will have issues protecting the serve especially with the power she will need to absorb from the other side of the court.

While there will be some frustrating moments filled with mistakes from the Zhang racquet, I do think she will recover deficits in breaks and ultimately will prove a little too strong for her compatriot with a 64, 63 win.

Sara Errani + 2.5 games v Barbora Strycova: Simply reading the head to head record between players is not good enough when making a pick in a match, but there are some which are heavily slanted in one direction that it is hard to ignore. If you look at the way 2016 has gone for Sara Errani and Barbora Strycova, I am not surprised that the latter is the favourite in this First Round match.

However it is Errani who has won seven of their previous eight matches which includes both matches played in 2016. In those two matches, Strycova has won a grand total of SIX games and there has to be something about the Errani game that she can't get her head around.

We know the Italian can play with plenty of variation and is capable of getting to the net, while I think her movement around the court is still good enough to force Strycova to hit closer to the lines and force mistakes. Strycova has a similar style of play to Errani as she looks for opponents mistakes, but she simply hasn't been able to stay in the moment as much as Errani in the long, grinding rallies.

It might be the emotional factor at play here with Strycova more likely to lose her cool than Errani under pressure and I will take the games with the Italian to keep her dominance over Strycova moving through another match.

Caroline Garcia - 3.5 games v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni: There hasn't been much sign of either of these players since the US Open so you can't really point to too much recent form for either. Outside of the US Open performance, there hasn't been too much for either Caroline Garcia or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to shout about as they begin their Asian swing on the Tour.

It is Garcia who has dominated the head to head thanks to an ability to get more out of the first serve than Lucic-Baroni and that might be a difference maker again in this one. It is the Frenchwoman who has won all four previous matches between the players and the majority of those matches has seen her win a significantly higher percentage of first serve points than Lucic-Baroni.

I am still waiting for Garcia to show the consistency that will see her get closer to fulfilling the potential that so many believe she has. When you watch Garcia play you see all of the tools to become a threat to win any tournament she enters, but she can sometimes wander away mentally which sees her opponents get back into matches.

If she does that here, she will be beaten by Lucic-Baroni, but I think the match up works well for Garcia. She should have the edge in power off the ground and also from behind the first serve which should see Garcia edge past Lucic-Baroni in two tough sets as she moves into the Second Round with a 75, 64 win.

Lucie Safarova + 3.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: There are a couple of Second Round matches to be played on Monday and one of those is between two compatriots from the Czech Republic. It isn't that long ago that Lucie Safarova would be coming into a match with Karolina Pliskova as the favourite to win, but that isn't the case in Wuhan and hasn't been the case in their last three matches.

However all of those matches have been competitive and it is Safarova who won the most recent one in Prague in the build up to the French Open. The Pliskova run to the Final at the US Open might have boosted her confidence levels, but backing up big performances in Grand Slam events can be hard for those having those experiences for the first time.

Unsurprisingly Pliskova was beaten in her first match since reaching the US Open Final, but she has a big serve and can cause problems when that shot is working alone. The hard courts in Asia tend to be a little slower than the North American ones that these players have been playing on, and I do think the slower court might give Safarova the edge in the match.

She too has a very good serve which can provide cheap points when on her game, but I think the slower courts will also take something away from Pliskova who likes to play a lot of short rallies. I am expecting this match to be very close and this looks like too many games for Safarova to be getting in this one.

MY PICKS: Shuai Zhang - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sara Errani + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Season 2016- 12.56 Units (1643 Units Staked, - 0.01% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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