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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Shanghai Tennis Picks 2016 (October 15th)

This has been a very good week for the tennis picks from the four tournaments being played, but I am looking to underline that with one more strong showing this Saturday.

It is a day when all of the Semi Final matches are to be played and another strong set of results will mean a positive week has been assured.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: This has been a week in which Novak Djokovic has had to dig deep as he not only looks to protect his World Number 1 spot, but also regain some confidence that looks to have been lost over the last few months. Now I don't know Djokovic personally so I am not sure whether there are factors at play which have yet to be determined around his health or personal issues that have yet to be cleared up.

Either way, no one can deny that Novak Djokovic has not been looking like himself since his defeat at Wimbledon as he deals with wrist issues and his place at the top of the ATP Tour looks under threat. However I think Djokovic will still be too good for Roberto Bautista Agut who won't have a lot of weapons to intimidate as his last two opponents have.

All credit needs to be given to Bautista Agut for the run to the Semi Final this week but this is not a good match up for him with Djokovic likely to get plenty of pressure on his serve with his own return. That pressure against this limited serve can see the Spaniard break down, although I also expect Bautista Agut to have his chances to break serve against an opponent who has not been at his very best behind that shot over the last few months.

They have had some closer than expected matches at times, but ultimately you would think that Djokovic has too much in the locker, even in this current state, for Bautista Agut. The edge in the rallies should go to the World Number 1 more often than not and I think he can come through with a 75, 63 win and move into a potentially huge Final on Sunday.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Gilles Simon: Andy Murray have been in really good form for a few months now, but he seems to have kicked on another gear this week in Shanghai. He has dominated the opponents he has played so far and I think Murray is in a position where he can take advantage of any tiredness that Gilles Simon is feeling.

That is because Simon had to play late into Friday evening in overcoming Jack Sock in three tight sets and doesn't have a lot of recovery time ahead of this Semi Final. While the Frenchman has been able to run all day through his career, I do feel he has lost a bit of the stamina that made him an irritating player to play these days, and those factors can combine to help Murray overcome his challenge.

There is no doubt that Simon will give all he has, I just simply don't believe he can have that much left in the tank going into this Semi Final and Murray is playing well enough to put him under intense pressure. The serve has been working well for Murray this week and that should only make Simon feel the pain even more from a physical and mental standpoint in this Semi Final.

Murray and Simon have had some close matches in the past, but I can't ignore Murray's form combined with the obvious tiredness that Simon has got to be dealing with. That should see the World Number 2 move into that likely Final against Novak Djokovic with a 63, 63 win in this second Semi Final.

Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 games v Alison Riske: The race for the final places at the WTA Finals has heated up this week with all of the leading contenders, bar Johanna Konta, reaching the Semi Final of the events they have taken part in. Svetlana Kuznetsova knows her chances of reaching the elite eight are diminishing because she needed the players above her to falter, but she can put the pressure on by winning and moving into the Final in Tianjin.

The match up with Alison Riske has proved a good one for Kuznetsova in the past with all four previous matches being won by the Russian. Most of those have come in comfortable fashion too as she has used her stronger groundstrokes to wear down Riske over the course of the match and I think something similar will happen here.

One concern has to be the amount of effort Kuznetsova had to put into her Quarter Final win over Naomi Osaka which was won in a deciding set tie-breaker. It also has to be pointed out that Riske has been in very good form herself and she has been a tough nut for players to crack, but Kuznetsova has the stronger serve and groundstrokes and that has to be a difference maker.

It is a lot of games that Kuznetsova is being asked to cover, but I think she can show why she is the superior player by coming through this match with a 64, 63 win.

Kristina Mladenovic + 3.5 games v Daria Gavrilova: All credit has to be given to Daria Gavrilova for the way she managed to get past Angelique Kerber in the Quarter Final, but I am not sure the World Number 1 was completely at the races. While I am not surprised that Gavrilova has come into this Semi Final as the favourite, I do have to say I am that Kristina Mladenovic is being given as many games as she is in this match.

It has been a decent week for Mladenovic who has been able to serve her way out of trouble at times, while she showed some heart in coming from a set down to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the Quarter Final.

Mladenovic has managed to play the big points well which has seen her win all of the tie-breakers that she has played this week. That will be important in this one as both players should be able to create the break points but it will be down to the player who is able to take those opportunities that will make it through to the Final on Sunday.

I do think this will be a close match, much like it was when they met at the Australian Open back in January. Back then it was Gavrilova who came through in three tough sets and I think something similar may be needed here which makes this number of games far too many to be ignored.

Carla Suarez Navarro + 2.5 games v Dominika Cibulkova: Both players still have an opportunity to play in Singapore in the WTA Finals and I am expecting a tight Semi Final between Dominika Cibulkova and Carla Suarez Navarro. I am certainly expecting a tighter match than the layers are and I also do think the Spaniard should not be the underdog in what I considered to be a pick 'em match.

The form guide certainly suggests that Cibulkova is the more likely winner, but Suarez Navarro has won the last two matches between the players and that has to play a mental role in the match.

Both players have looked vulnerable behind serve which is an issue for them, but I think it does mean we are likely to see a three set match. I can see Cibulkova being able to break down the Suarez Navarro game with her power, but I also think there will be moments where the Spaniard is able to make enough balls back into awkward positions to force mistakes from the Cibulkova game.

Anticipating this match to be closer than the layers means it is an easy choice for me to back Carla Suarez Navarro to at least keep this match close with the games she is being given. I wouldn't be surprised if this goes deep into a third set and that might be long enough for Suarez Navarro to make the games count.

Madison Keys - 4.5 games v Viktorija Golubic: This has been a really good week for Madison Keys and finishing off with a title should mean a first appearance at the WTA Finals for the young American. She has been in dominant form and I have backed her three times already this week and see no reason why she can't cover for a fourth time in a row.

The big serve possessed by Keys has gotten her out of trouble on the indoor hard court in Linz and I think that serve has also produced pressure on her opponents who know they can't afford any mistakes on their own serve. Unfortunately the struggles on the return means it has been difficult for players to stay focused when they are serving and that has seen Keys take charge in sets and matches.

Viktorija Golubic received the benefit of a Garbine Muguruza withdrawal in the Quarter Final, but she did spend a significant amount of time on court. I think Golubic has the look of a player that will make improvements in her World Ranking over the course of the next few months, but I also think she is going to be in a difficult situation against Keys in the form the American has been in.

The problem for Golubic is that she has not been serving as effectively as she would have wanted during this week. She has been broken ten times in her last two matches and that is not going to cut it against Keys and I think the American will end up coming through with a 75, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Kristina Mladenovic + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 18-11, + 11.32 Units (58 Units Staked, + 19.52% Yield)

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