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Friday, 30 September 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (September 30th)

There was a much better set of results on Thursday which is helping move the week back in a positive direction, but it wasn't a perfect day and that means room for improvement is there.

We have reached the Quarter Finals in the majority of the tournaments being played this week and the Semi Finals in the Wuhan tournament as the Asian swing gets set to move onto a couple of really big events at the beginning of October.

At this stage of the tennis season the focus is on getting to the World Tour Finals/End of Year Championships for the players at the forefront of the ATP and WTA Tours and that should keep players motivated as they try to secure their positions in the top eight. The WTA Tour comes to an end sooner than the ATP Tour and this is the final month of the 2016 season for the women players compared with the men who have a couple of extra weeks to play.

Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: One of the more memorable moments on the Tour this season has to be the way Grigor Dimitrov forfeited in his defeat to Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in the Final in Istanbul. It was during the height of Dimitrov's poor performances in 2016 when he fell apart in the third set decider but there have been signs over the last couple of months that he is finding his game again.

I am not ready to see Dimitrov take on the best players on the Tour as I do feel he will ultimately come up short in those matches, but he should be confident of earning some revenge over Schwartzman. The match in Istanbul was very close until the final set and Dimitrov is playing at a better level now which makes me think he can have a relatively straight-forward win in this one.

The Dimitrov game is still a little uncertain at times as he is not getting enough of the first serve and continues to make plenty of errors off the ground. However there have been more signs of Dimitrov finding his consistency and the hard courts should favour him more than Schwartzman which should give him the edge in the match.

I do think the Schwartzman serve can be vulnerable even if he has recorded two very good wins already in Chengdu this week. I am expecting Dimitrov to have his chances to break serve in the match and I think he is going to be strong enough at the key moments to come through with a 63, 64 win.

Dominic Thiem - 4.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: There is every chance that Dominic Thiem is going to be a part of the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career, but he still has work to do if he wants to make that a reality. Winning the tournament in Chengdu would be huge for him as he tries to improve from his current position of Number 7 in the Race to London and also to earn some momentum to take into the big events coming up.

2016 has already been a memorable year for Thiem and he was a fairly routine winner in the Second Round to move into this Quarter Final. He will have to be better if Thiem is going to find a way to get past Albert Ramos-Vinolas even if the Spaniard is most happy on the clay courts.

However his lefty serve will always be awkward for players to deal with even if it isn't the most powerful shot on the Tour. When Ramos-Vinolas is not able to hit his spots, I do think the serve is going to be attacked by Thiem who won't be afraid of using his backhand to hit heavily into the Ramos-Vinolas forehand and earn something from that.

Thiem will need some time to adjust to what he is seeing from Ramos-Vinolas in their first match on the Tour. He has shown he can do that and begin to turn matches in his favour and I think that is what happens here as the young Austrian comes through a tight first set to win this one 76, 62.

Dominika Cibulkova + 2.5 games v Svetlana Kuznetsova: The first Semi Final in Wuhan is perhaps a surprising one that not many would have picked before the tournament began. Both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dominika Cibulkova are solid players on the Tour, but have come through a half of the draw that did contain Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova so their presence in the Semi Final is unexpected.

This match will have a big impact on the Race to Singapore though with Cibulkova going into the tournament in Number 7 spot and Kuznetsova Number 11 and the winner will believe they have made a huge step to playing in the elite eight. However there is plenty of the line with a place in the Wuhan Final at stake so I am not going to believe the players are worrying about their position in Singapore instead of the immediate match in front of them.

I can't imagine this will be anything but a close and competitive match between two players who have played seven times previously but not since the 2011 season. Both Kuznetsova and Cibulkova came through tough matches on Thursday to get to the Semi Final and you have to think Kuznetsova is favourite as her opponent had to win two matches on Thursday to get through to this one.

I do have to respect the fact that Cibulkova had those tough matches on Thursday, but this is not a match that will have too many gruelling rallies with both players big time shotmakers. I think Kuznetsova has the edge on the serve, but she has lost four in a row to Cibulkova and that will be something these players might remember even if it was five years ago when they last met. I am a fan of Cibulkova and I think she can make this competitive by forcing Kuznetsova into some mistakes as she fights fire with fire and I will take the games being offered.

Simona Halep - 2.5 games v Petra Kvitova: It will be strange to watch the WTA End of Year Championships and not have Petra Kvitova involved, but her 2016 has been one of disappointment. This week has been far from a disappointment though and Kvitova has been in impressive form, although the challenge in front of her is arguably the most difficult one she will have faced.

That might sound funny considering she has beaten the US Open Champion and current World Number 1 Angelique Kerber, but physically I don't think Kvitova can be anything near where she wants when taking on Simona Halep. Beating Johanna Konta in straight sets was very important for Kvitova to get some more time to rest, but someone like Halep can force her into the really long rallies she would like to avoid.

Halep also has won all three previous matches between these players including when they played in the Fed Cup earlier this year. The Romanian will be playing in Singapore at the end of October and she has been in fine form over the last two months while her confidence should mean she is not going to be intimidated by the raw power Kvitova has been displaying in Wuhan.

I do think there will be moments that Kvitova is able to penetrate the Halep defences and the serving edge definitely goes to the former too. She has been playing well enough to win this match, but I think Halep is in the better place physically and has the mental edge having won all previous matches against Kvitova and I like Halep to come through with a 36, 63, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-8, - 2.56 Units (32 Units Staked, - 8% Yield)

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