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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (October 19th)

It is the middle of the week for the tournaments that have been set for the week and that means there are plenty of matches scheduled for the day.

Yesterday the picks went a disappointing 1-1, but I am looking for the Wednesday matches to really get this week going.


John Isner + 2.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: There should be plenty of big serving on display in this match between John Isner and Juan Martin Del Potro but I am a little surprised the latter is such a strong favourite. He did win the first four matches played between them, but it is John Isner who has managed to battle through in the last two matches.

There hasn't been too many sightings of Isner on the Tour since the US Open and his sole match since then was a one sided loss to Alexander Zverev. 2016 has perhaps not been as productive a season as Isner would have liked, but I do wonder if his opponent Del Potro has much left in the tank after playing as many matches as he has on his return from injury.

He looked a little tired in his defeat in Shanghai last week, but Del Potro will at least know he won't be involved in long rallies in this one that might sap energy. Instead he has to show his mental strength in a match where John Isner is going to be tough to break even if his serving has been below par in the last six weeks.

Tie-breakers look to be the order of the day with Isner and Del Potro in the match and I do think the American might have the mental edge having won the last two times these players have met on the Tour. I am a little bothered that Isner has barely played any tennis since early September, but Del Potro might already be looking towards 2017 and being able to recover both physically and mentally from a tough 2016. I'll take the games with Isner in this one and look for him to keep it competitive if not win outright.


Carla Suarez Navarro - 2.5 games v Daria Gavrilova: With Serena Williams pulling out of the WTA Finals and Johanna Konta injured and not playing this week, there might be room for Carla Suarez Navarro to earn a place in Singapore next week. The task is simple for Suarez Navarro this week and that is she needs to win the tournament in Moscow which will be good enough to move above Konta in the Number 8 spot.

That puts some pressure on the Spaniard and it will be far from easy to win a tournament which is loaded with plenty of talent. Straight away Suarez Navarro will play against Daria Gavrilova who has had her best year on the Tour and will be looking to kick on in 2017 which opens up with plenty of events in Australia, Gavrilova's new home.

There is plenty to like about Gavrilova's game and she has the power to give Suarez Navarro something to think about, especially when it comes to returning what is a limited second serve. Even the first serve is not particularly intimidating and I do think Gavrilova will have her chances to break serve.

However I think Gavrilova will also be under pressure from Suarez Navarro who has the consistency to break her down when the rallies develop. While there will be times Gavrilova will hit through the court and penetrate the Suarez Navarro defences, I do think she can be worn down mentally and that can see the Spaniard prevail 64, 46, 63.


Elina Svitolina - 3.5 games v Yulia Putintseva: It was a big week for Elina Svitolina who reached the Semi Final in Beijing as she looks to end 2016 with another strong showing. She was in fine form in Beijing but Svitolina is still to show the consistency that can see her make the business end of tournaments on a regular basis and prove she more than belongs inside the top 20 of the World Rankings.

The match with Yulia Putintseva is going to be a difficult one for Svitolina because she will be asked to make plenty of balls from the feisty player she is facing. That can see her struggle off the ground at times but I think Svitolina has the edge when it comes to the serve and that can be a big difference maker.

Instead of having to rely on winning rally after rally, Svitolina should have a chance to play plenty of first strike tennis behind her first serve, while she will also have the time to attack the Putintseva serve. I think that has played a big part in Svitolina winning the last three matches against Putintseva after initially losing the first two matches and this should be the key to having success in this match.

I do have to say that there are times when Svitolina can lose focus mentally, but she looked very good in Beijing and I look for her to keep the momentum going in a 64, 64 win.


Kristina Mladenovic v Timea Babos: I am a little surprised that Timea Babos has been set as the favourite in this Second Round match in Moscow. She did produce a tough First Round win, but Babos has not been in the best form of late and it would be easy for her to look ahead at next week when she will be playing in the WTA Finals in the Doubles event.

The same could be said of Kristina Mladenovic who is likely to be partnering Caroline Garcia as the top Seed in the Doubles event at the WTA Finals. However the Frenchwoman has shown more form than Babos by reaching the Final at the tournament in Hong Kong last week although the obvious concern is tiredness setting in during a second long week on the Tour.

Mladenovic beat an overmatched opponent in the First Round but Babos is a much more difficult test for her. On the other hand, Mladenovic will have a real mental edge having won four of the five previous matches between these players although only one of those matches was played this season and that came on the clay courts at Roland Garros where Mladenovic would have received massive support.

Both players have decent serves, but can be guilty of silly errors when trying to back that up. I am anticipating quite a close contest, but I would have had Mladenovic as the slight favourite so I will back the underdog in this one to come through and beat Babos in three sets for a place in another Quarter Final.


Jelena Jankovic + 2.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: I have very little doubt that Jelena Jankovic is on the downward slope of her career and that has been highlighted by the fact she is likely to have her fewest wins on the Tour since 2003. The movement around the court is not as good as it used to be, but Jankovic has found some form over the last six weeks since the US Open and I think she can pose some problems for home favourite Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The season is coming to an end for Pavlyuchenkova and Jankovic, but the Russian should have plenty of motivation playing in Moscow where she has won the tournament in 2014 and then finished Runner Up in defence of that title in 2015.

I think that is part of the reason why she is considered such a strong favourite in this match because Pavlyuchenkova has not produced too many wins since the US Open. She did play well in Linz last week before coming up short in the Quarter Final and Pavlyuchenkova has the superior serve in this match that can provide some cheap points and keep Jankovic under pressure.

In the past it has been the movement of Jankovic and forcing Pavlyuchenkova to hit extra balls that has kept the former World Number 1 competitive in matches. While I do think she has lost that half a step around the court, the recent form suggests Jankovic can trouble Pavlyuchenkova again and perhaps make these games count in a tight match.


Since the US Open Jankovic has been much more competitive and I think she can steal a set which will make it difficult for Pavlyuchenkova to cover this number.


Kiki Bertens - 3.5 games v Anna Schmiedlova: Neither Kiki Bertens or Anna Schmiedlova will be pointing to any great form in the closing stages of 2016 as they battle each other for the right to reach the Quarter Final in Luxembourg. However this has been a season that Bertens will look back on much more fondly than Schmiedlova who has won just 5/27 matches on the main Tour a year after finishing 2015 with 37 match wins.

Unsurprisingly Schmiedlova has dropped outside the top 100 of the World Rankings and the mental block of all those losses has seen her lose other matches from very strong winning positions. The win over Yanina Wickmayer was impressive, but Schmiedlova will have to raise her game again if Bertens has recovered some of the lost form of recent weeks.

Bertens had lost seven matches in a row before beating Annika Beck in the First Round and she has been a little overrated behind a very strong clay court season when she surpassed most expectations. I don't think she has been fully healthy, which is a concern too, but she looked a little better in beating Beck in the First Round and the Dutchwoman will be Seeded going into the Australian Open in January.

Her record on the hard courts is a concern when backing her in this match, but I do think she is in a superior place mentally than Schmiedlova who probably wants to draw a line under the 2016 season. Bertens crushed her on the clay courts when they met earlier this season, but I anticipate this will be closer on the indoor hard courts, although ultimately I like Bertens to cover in a 75, 64 win after a few breaks of serve are shared out.

MY PICKS: John Isner + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kristina Mladenovic @ 2.20 Coral (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.34 Units (4 Units Staked, - 8.5% Yield)

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