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Friday, 21 October 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (October 21st)

The first few days of this week had been very difficult for the picks, but things have turned around after a very good Thursday which saw they daily picks go 5-2 to put this week back into the black. There are still a couple of days left of the week and I am hoping to build on the momentum from Thursday.

The WTA Finals is fast approaching and the top eight places have almost been completely set, but Svetlana Kuznetsova has reached the Semi Final in Moscow and needs two more wins to finish above Johanna Konta in the Race for Singapore. Kuznetsova has a big Semi Final on Friday to play as she looks to win the tournament in Moscow for a second season in a row, while the ATP tournaments this week have all reached the Quarter Final Round.

Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: There are some matches on the tennis Tour that seem to suit players and you have to think Fabio Fognini is very confident he can get the better of Albert Ramos-Vinolas in this Quarter Final. This is going to be the ninth time they have met on the professional Tour, but it is Fognini who has won the previous eight which includes a straight sets win in Shanghai earlier this month.

The recent form suggest Ramos-Vinolas might be able to make this a more competitive match against Fognini, but the Italian is the better player in the rallies and makes a big difference when neither player possesses a huge serve.

Fognini has a couple of solid wins behind him this week in Moscow and that should give him more confidence to deal with Ramos-Vinolas yet again. You simply cannot escape the fact that Ramos-Vinolas is going to have to overcome some real mental obstacles with the eight match losing run against Fognini and his lefty serve is clearly not an issue for Fognini to work to break point and subsequent breaks.

The Italian has covered this number of games in seven of the previous eight matches with Ramos-Vinolas and Fognini is playing well enough to find a way to do that again.

Juan Martin Del Potro - 2.5 games v Ivo Karlovic: Everyone knows that Ivo Karlovic is capable of bringing some big serving to the court every time he steps up to the line to serve. That makes him dangerous, but Karlovic has not been as strong in this department this season and the hot form of a couple of months ago has definitely cooled down now.

Karlovic will always be dangerous with the serve he possesses, but Juan Martin Del Potro faced John Isner already this week and so should have his eye in for what he will be seeing coming from the other side of the court. Del Potro is not a small man either and his levers should give him a chance to get enough balls back in play and some with considerable speed which will make it difficult for Karlovic to control his volleys.

The Argentinian is moving up the World Rankings and the key for him is to make sure he looks after his own service games and then tries to get involved in Karlovic's. I don't think Del Potro will have a lot of chances, but he showed in the win over Isner that he can take the few chances he does create against a huge server.

The difference between Isner and Karlovic is the need of the latter to get into the net and make volleys, but even that will be difficult after the second or third shot against Del Potro and I think the former US Open Champion wins this one 76, 64.

Richard Gasquet - 3.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: The indoor hard courts have seen the best performances from Jan-Lennard Struff through his career and he has reached the Quarter Final in Antwerp. However he has had some trouble along the way and the match with Richard Gasquet is another step up from his previous opponents.

The win over Gilles Simon was impressive, but I am not sure how much Simon had left in the tank after a long and gruelling week in Shanghai which had ended just a few days ago. Travelling all the way back to Europe and playing in this tournament doesn't sound the most appealing of schedules but Simon still had enough chances to win that match with Struff.

Gasquet should be the best server that Struff has faced this week and that has to be a concern when you think he has given up 28 break points in just two matches. Struff should be full of confidence having won a Challenger event on this circuit recently but he is scheduled to be at the Vienna Qualifying this weekend and I wonder if he will have the fight to dig in if he does get behind by a set.

It hasn't been the most productive few weeks for Gasquet, but he was an easy winner in the Second Round and has plenty of indoor hard court experience too. If he can use that effectively I think the Frenchman can come through with a 64, 64 win and a place in the Semi Final to come on Saturday.

Pablo Cuevas - 1.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: There is no doubting that Pablo Cuevas as a Seed in a hard court event is very vulnerable and his best tennis is restricted to the clay courts. He has been very good on the clay this season which has seen him move up to Number 22 in the World Rankings and likely a Seed for the Australian Open, but that means I tend to stick away from him when it comes to being a favourite on the hard courts.

Cuevas hasn't shown a lot of positive form since the Tour moved onto the last quarter of the season which is predominantly a hard court time of the year. I think it is also telling that he has not won back to back matches on this surface in the last twelve months and so it might come as a surprise that I am going to back him to win this Quarter Final.

That has much to do with the opponent he is facing as he meets fellow South American Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, another player who doesn't have a lot of hard court form behind him and who is much more comfortable on the slower surfaces. Schwartzman should be credited for winning two matches in Antwerp already, but he too had been struggling with the move back to the hard courts.

The match up should be one that Cuevas enjoys much more as it should be one that develops into the kind of rallies you would see on the slower surfaces. I do think Cuevas has the bigger serve, which could be key, although the doubt remains with his lack of results on the hard courts in the past. However, I think Cuevas won't have too many better chances to reach a Semi Final of an indoor hard court event and I think he battles through with a 64, 57, 64 win.

Julia Goerges + 2.5 games v Daria Gavrilova: A couple of years ago Julia Goerges might have been considered a player that would be making the next step in her career to challenge some of the better players on the Tour. That hasn't really happened for her on the Singles Tour, but she has performed better on the Doubles Tour which should see her competing at the WTA Finals next week.

For now she can concentrate on finishing her Singles season on a high as she gets set for this tough Semi Final with Daria Gavrilova. Both players have shown good form this week and I imagine Gavrilova will be going to Doubles partner Daria Kasatkina for tips having seen Goerges beat her handily in the Quarter Final.

I think Gavrilova has a little more power off the ground than Kasatkina at this stage of their careers though and that should give Goerges a few more things to think about. However Goerges has been setting up her play very well this week behind her serve and it should be able to keep her in this match and potentially win outright.

I really don't think there is as much between the players as the layers clearly believe. Both should have their moments and, unless Goerges is thinking about heading to Singapore for the Doubles event at the WTA Finals, I think both realise how much is on the line in terms of vital Ranking points they can earn this week.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if we need three sets to separate these players, but Goerges is the kind of streaky player that can be hard to stop when she is putting her tennis together like she has this week. Backing her with the games should be enough for the cover if this does go deep into a third set like I am anticipating, while I can't rule out Goerges winning this one straight up and at odds against I will back her with the start.

Kiki Bertens - 2.5 games v Monica Niculescu: It has been a miserable couple of months for Kiki Bertens, but 2016 has been a strong season for her and something to build upon in 2017. She is looking to end the season on a high having returned to winning ways in Luxembourg and Bertens has been good for my picks over the last couple of Rounds.

I am going to try and make it a hat-trick backing the in form Dutchwoman in this Semi Final although I think Monica Niculescu deserves a healthy respect with her ability to bamboozle opponents with her variation. She is not the kind of player you will see very often on the Tour and Bertens has to remain concentrated or this match could quickly slip away from her.

The power off the ground and from the serve is all with Bertens and she certainly has the tools to break down the Niculescu game. However it is the Romanian's movement around the court which forces players to hit closer and closer to the lines which extracts errors and can wear players down mentally which is a concern as Bertens has been doing a lot of losing before this week in Luxembourg.

The one benefit for Bertens is she has faced Niculescu before and even in a losing effort she should have learned something. If she concentrates on her own service games the pressure should build on Niculescu who doesn't have the same sort of power as Bertens and I think that can lead to a 63, 46, 64 win for the Number 3 Seed.

MY PICKS: Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Juan Martin Del Potro - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Julia Goerges + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-6, + 3.16 Units (28 Units Staked, + 11.29% Yield)

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