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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Shanghai Tennis Picks 2016 (October 13th)

There is a lot of tennis to get through on Thursday as the tournaments in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tianjin and Linz start getting to the business end of the events. Big points are still up for grabs for the players left in the draw as we get closer to the Tour Finals and that should keep the motivation high for most of those involved.


On Wednesday the headlines were taken by another Nick Kyrgios meltdown on the court when he clearly tanked away his match with Mischa Zverev. You can understand the frustrations of some fans out there as most 'tanking' is less blatant than Kyrgios' attempts on Wednesday but he is not the first player to do this and he certainly won't be the last.

He clearly didn't feel the tournament at all but Kyrgios might have been better served withdrawing before the match began. However I think he is always going to be a temperamental player that intrigues the casual fan who might suddenly decide during a match that he 'doesn't want to be there' any then produce the kind of performance he did on Wednesday.

It wasn't a good look for Kyrgios, but I won't be ashamed of saying I am a fan and he is still on a decent progression path that can take him to the top. He reminds me of someone like Marat Safin who will be able to produce huge performances in Slams in the coming years, but might never have the full determination to win week after week as the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have shown over the last thirteen years.

The game is all there for Kyrgios to be successful, but he will have these up and down moments and I will still be a fan of his even after watching this kind of performance.

And for all those people who think Kyrgios has thrown the match for betting purposes or to fix the result I have to borrow a Chris Jericho line and say you are just 'a stupid idiot' for thinking that.


Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 games v Victor Troicki: Beating Rafael Nadal in the last Round was a solid achievement for Victor Troicki but this is going to be a tough match in which to back up that victory. He is taking on another Spaniard on Thursday when he plays Roberto Bautista Agut who has already beaten Troicki twice this year.

The last match between them came in Winston Salem when Bautista Agut came very close to blowing a huge lead in the win over Troicki. However that showed that he has the game to give the Serb plenty of problems as his ability to make plenty of balls back in play and having a solid return game from the serve is going to give Bautista Agut a chance for the win.

Troicki will have some chances against the Bautista Agut serve though and that makes him a threat, but I think backing up a win of the magnitude of beating Nadal is going to be tough for him. He has been in better form overall than Bautista Agut since the US Open, but I don't like the match up for him and I think the Spaniard is a little more consistent.

I will be looking for Bautista Agut to win the majority of the longer rallies in this match and I think that will lead to him coming through with a 64, 64 win as Troicki struggles to match the intensity and emotion it took to beat Nadal.


Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v David Goffin: This is a big match when it comes to potentially deciding the places at the World Tour Finals and the winning player will have a very strong chance of booking their place in London. Both Gael Monfils and David Goffin have shown some good form of late and this should make this Third Round match a very good one to watch.

It is Gael Monfils who has found a way to get the better of Goffin in their previous matches and you have to say it is easy to see why that might be the case. Both are athletic around the court, but that is where Monfils should still be a little stronger than the Belgian, while Monfils definitely has the stronger first serve.

Those two elements alone can give Monfils a significant edge in this match and I think that is a big reason he has been able to overcome Goffin. He has to employ both of those factors to the best of his ability to prevent Goffin picking up some momentum in this match and Monfils can't produce the loose games that gave Kevin Anderson a chance in the last Round, although the South African has more power than Goffin and was able to hit through Monfils at times.

This should be a fun match with both players helping produce some long, entertaining rallies. I do think Monfils will be a little better than Goffin at the big moments and I will back him to come through this tough test with a 63, 36, 63 win.


Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Lucas Pouille: There is no doubt that finishing the year as World Number 1 and reaching the pinnacle of the men's game for the first time is motivating Andy Murray down the stretch. He looked tired after the Davis Cup Semi Final against Argentina, but Murray has taken some time off and was in dominant fashion in Beijing last week.

Murray has made no secret of his desire to reach the World Number 1 spot, but Novak Djokovic is not going to give away that position easily. An easy win over Steve Johnson has continued the fine form that Murray has been producing and now he faces a tough test in Lucas Pouille who is a much improved player.

The Frenchman has a solid game, but I do think the serve still needs some work and that is going to be a problem against Murray. I can see Pouille being put under pressure by Murray for much of the match in the current form he is in and the question here is whether Murray can serve well enough to keep Pouille at bay.

With the way that Murray has been playing, I think he will eventually begin to wear down Pouille and can pull away in this one with a 64, 62 kind of win to send him through to the Quarter Final.


Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 games v Gilles Simon: A comprehensive win over Kyle Edmund in the Second Round has kept Stan Wawrinka going in a positive direction after a strong showing in St Petersburg a couple of weeks ago. Wawrinka was serving well enough and made some big shots through the win over Edmund and now faces Gilles Simon who can be a dangerous opponent if players are not quite up to their standards.

The thing with Simon is that he is going to be able to get plenty of balls back in play and that can cause problems if players are not at their very best. However his serve is vulnerable if players have found their range and someone like Wawrinka can punish the Frenchman if he is still seeing the ball as well as he has been since winning the US Open.

Wawrinka has managed to dominate Simon the last couple of times they have met on the clay courts, but being on the hard courts means there is less room for mistakes. However you have to give Wawrinka the edge when it comes to creating break points and Simon does take a few more heavy losses these days as he has perhaps lost a little bit of a step around the court which made him so effective in his career.

You can't always know how Wawrinka is going to be feeling when he enters the court and whether he can keep a lid on his unforced errors. Even so, I think he is better than Simon and can take the chances that come his way for a 63, 64 win.


Kirsten Flipkens + 4.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: This was a Semi Final match here in Linz last season, but Kirsten Flipkens and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will meet in the Second Round this time around. I am surprised Pavlyuchenkova is seen as such a big favourite when you consider her form in the last few weeks of the 2016 season and I think Flipkens can make a match of this one.

She is receiving plenty of games on the handicap and Flipkens has given Pavlyuchenkova something to think about when they have played one another the last couple of times. The Russian has gotten the better of her all three previous times they have played but she would have only covered this number of games once and Flipkens can keep this competitive.

I am a little worried about her serve which can be attacked by Pavlyuchenkova who has a lot of power when standing and hitting. Getting her on the move has to be the tactic for Flipkens but that isn't always easy when Pavlyuchenkova is at her best and she has to be respected for her performance in the First Round where she didn't even give up a single break point.

However Pavlyuchenkova is coming off a difficult set of results in Asia when she failed to win any of her last three matches. While she should be able to dominate the rallies when getting the first strike in, Flipkens is capable of playing decent enough defence to trouble her opponent and I think she can stay within this number.


Madison Keys - 5.5 games v Misaki Doi: The race for the final places at the WTA Finals in Singapore are hotting up this week and Madison Keys has opened up her draw by coming through a tough First Round match against Camila Giorgi. With the serve Keys possesses, she should be far too good for Misaki Doi in this Second Round encounter, although she has to give her opponent the necessary respect.

Doi came through a difficult First Round match herself, but she can't really rely on her serve to get her out of trouble like Keys will be able to. The other issue for Doi is trying to deal with the significant power advantage that Keys has in this match and her chances of being able to dominate the rallies for the most part.

It is important for Keys to take control of the unforced errors though to prevent Doi getting a foothold in this match, but she has dominated when these players have met the last couple of times. It has been a couple of years since Keys and Doi have met, but Keys is significantly improved since then and I expect her to have too much for Doi in this one.

I would expect Keys to break at least four times over the course of this match and I think that is going to be enough for her come away with a 63, 63 kind of win. There will be a couple of awkward moments on the Keys serve where it will decide whether she can get over this number of games, but I think she can serve her way out of those trouble spots to cover these games.


Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 games v Annika Beck: There is a real chance for Dominika Cibulkova to make it to Singapore for the WTA Finals, but she has to have a very deep run in Linz to keep her hopes alive. She will need help from others above her to falter, but Cilbulkova can only control her own destiny over the next couple of weeks.

She had a dominant win over Belinda Bencic in the First Round although that had much to do with her opponent not being fully at the races. That would usually be seen as a difficult match up for Cibulkova, but I think she will be much happier by what she is facing in the Second Round when going up against Annika Beck.

The German doesn't have a dominant shot and will rely on outworking opponents, but all that means is that Cibulkova will be in every rally. I also think Cibulkova has a clear edge in the power department and will be able to penetrate the Beck defences regularly over the course of the match, although she will also face a few break points with the Cibulkova serve a little vulnerable at times.


Ultimately I think Cibulkova is an all around better player than Beck when it comes to the serve and return. I also think she is the stronger player and it is going to be a match dictated by her racquet. Controlling the unforced errors should mean Cibulkova is able to come through with a fairly routine win as I look for her to get past Beck with a 63, 64 win.


Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 games v Monica Niculescu: There is very little doubt that Garbine Muguruza will manage to make it through to the WTA Finals in Singapore, but she will want to confirm her place in that end of season finale as soon as possible. Her First Round win has put the Spaniard on the right road and I think she can be too strong for Monica Niculescu in this match.

You have to be aware of what Niculescu brings to the court and there is enough tape for Muguruza to know what to expect. Knowing and dealing with it are two different things though and the slicing and dicing that Niculescu produces can take a little bit of time to adjust to, especially for someone like Muguruza who wants to take the ball on and hit with her power.

Timing has been an issue for Muguruza anyway in recent weeks, but I think that is going to be a big issue here especially early in the match. However I do think Muguruza has a significant edge when it comes to the serve and return which will eventually see her playing enough first strike tennis to put Niculescu in awkward positions on the court and allow the Spaniard to avoid the longer, more thinking rallies the Romanian wants to play.

The top players generally have a little too much power in the locker for Niculescu to deal with and I think that is what is going to happen in this match. After a few early issues, Muguruza should take control in a 75, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 William Hill (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 Games @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kirsten Flipkens + 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-7, - 0.48 Units (28 Units Staked, - 1.71% Yield)

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