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Thursday, 27 October 2016

WTA Finals Picks 2016 (October 27th)

I cannot begin to say how frustrated and irritated I was with the way the tennis picks went on Wednesday.

Karolina Pliskova blew a set and a break lead to eventually go down against Svetlana Kuznetsova, while the Fabio Fognini pick just never got off the ground.

However it was the other four picks that fell apart that absolutely got under my skin... Garbine Muguruza was up a break in the second set but ended up losing 6/7 games to miss the cover by one game and that became an ugly theme of the day.

Feliciano Lopez decided he would throw in his double faults during this two tie-breakers with John Isner to effectively give up those to the big American. In fact I think he lost his first two service points in both tie-breakers to give up the match for all intents and purposes.

Things didn't improve with both Kei Nishikori and Robin Haase missing their own covers by single games. Nishikori had 15-40 on Paolo Lorenzi's opening two service games and couldn't break and missed all 6 break points he earned in set one to eventually win 76, 62 to miss his cover, while Haase broke the Juan Martin Del Potro serve three times in the second set and still couldn't at least get to a tie-breaker which is pathetic when you consider that.

I can pretty much say that is the way my 2016 season has gone with little luck at the very crux of matches far too often and that has meant I haven't been able to pick up the momentum I should have done. In all honesty even a little bit of luck at the big moments would have seen at least half of those losses come back as winners and keep the positive run going, but instead every single one looked to have landed on the wrong side because the players I've picked have lost those big points.

Frustration is putting it mildly.

The WTA Finals Red Group is going to be decided on Thursday and things have become fairly clear in the Group. Dominika Cibulkova has to win in straight sets and hope Angelique Kerber beats Madison Keys in straight sets to have a chance of getting through to the Semi Final.

That is the only way Cibulkova can get through, but a straight sets win for Simona Halep will put her through to the Semi Final regardless of what happens in the other match. A straight sets win for Keys over Kerber would put her through to the Semi Final and it does feel that both matches are going to have some importance attached unlike in the White Group where Garbine Muguruza has been knocked out and Svetlana Kuznetsova has already booked her place in the Semi Final.

Thursday will also bring Second Round action from the ATP events in Basel and Vienna as the Quarter Final line up is set for Friday.

Simona Halep - 3.5 games v Dominika Cibulkova: The first set is going to be critical to the outcome of this match and it might be difficult for Dominika Cibulkova to stay focused if she drops that and is ultimately out of the tournament. Now the Slovakian is one of the biggest fighters on the Tour and unlikely to give up in any match she plays, but it can be difficult to motivate when at the end of a long season in which she has surpassed expectations.

For Simona Halep taking at least a set in this one, even in a losing effort, will give her a chance of progressing through to the Semi Final but she will then be reliant on Angelique Kerber beating Madison Keys. However a straight sets win for Halep will put her through to the Semi Final regardless of the outcome of the final match in the Group.

The match up is a difficult one to weigh up because Halep looks to have the consistency, but I think the Cibulkova firepower and desire makes her hard to stop. Neither player has a big serve and it could easily come down to which of them perhaps takes a few more chances that pay off with the short ball, particularly on the second serve, which could prove to be the difference.

That is an area I think Halep can be stronger and I believe she is going to make the big plays at the big moments to push ahead in this tournament. It should be a couple of tight sets being competed by these two players but Halep can win this one 64, 64 for a place in the Semi Final.

Angelique Kerber - 2.5 games v Madison Keys: Both of these players are going to know their exact situation in the Group heading out onto the court and that might play a part in how this match goes. I am not going to read too much into what I expect to happen in the first match of the day, but instead focus on how I think this match will go.

You can't ignore the fact that Angelique Kerber has won all five previous matches against Madison Keys and I think this is the kind of opponent that the American has to learn to deal with to take the next step in her career. Like Simona Halep, Kerber has the tools to negate the big Keys serve and force the younger player to try and beat her with consistency off the ground.

While Kerber can accept that Keys will be able to penetrate the defences with the power she has, the World Number 1 will also know she can force mistakes from the Keys game by getting as many balls back in play as possible. Going into the Keys backhand from the Kerber forehand should also be a productive play to open up the court for Kerber and having to play as many balls as Keys is likely going to have to can be mentally draining.

These players have met twice in 2016 and Kerber has won all four sets and I think she will have enough of an edge in the longer rallies to wear down Keys in this one. If Madison Keys can get 75% of first serves in and just play with virtually no unforced errors she could win this match, but that is a big ask and I am looking for Kerber to put up her third win in Singapore in a 75, 63 win.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: You cannot look past the fortune that Philipp Kohlschreiber got in this win over Stephane Robert on Wednesday and he will need a lot more of that to snap his nine match losing run to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It will be interesting to see if Kohlschreiber has had the time to recover physically from what was a testing match against Robert and the Frenchman he faces on Thursday is a lot more powerful and consistent.

The recent run of results have shown Kohlschreiber might not be at his full confidence level and that has seen him struggle on the serve. On another day he would have been beaten easily by Robert and being as loose as that against Tsonga is only going to result in yet another defeat to this opponent.

Tsonga hasn't played a lot of tennis since the retirement at the US Open but he has looked solid enough in the limited time he has been on court. He was an easy winner in the First Round in Vienna where he has won the title before and I think the indoor hard courts suit his game just fine as he is able to dictate points comfortably behind the heavy forehand.

If Tsonga is serving well it will only increase the pressure on Kohlschreiber to stay with him and I think that will ultimately prove too much for the German to do. I like Tsonga to build the pressure and crack Kohlschreiber in a 63, 64 win.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Gilles Simon: When these players met in Shanghai it was a poor day serving from Andy Murray that allowed Gilles Simon to remain competitive against him. The courts in Vienna may help Murray get a little more out of his first serve which had not been as productive as he liked in Shanghai and I think the match up is one that Murray will know exactly what to expect.

Simon is going to battle hard and he will extend rallies with his defensive movement and ability to put the ball in some awkward spots for Murray to try and do something with. The Frenchman is able to get to the net and stop Murray from just chipping the ball into play, but his weakness remains the serve which should see the World Number 2 be able to get into the rallies.

I have little doubt that Murray is going to be in a position to break serve a few times and the key will be to make sure he takes a solid percentage of those and not allow them to slip past. What is harder to guess is whether Murray is going to be able to serve well enough to prevent Simon from continuously battling back like he did when these players met in Shanghai and it does have to be said that plenty of their previous matches have been competitive affairs.

The form Murray has been in definitely gives him an edge though and I think he has taken the chances that have come his way when he does get into break point positions. He has at least been serving decently enough to help himself to a 64, 62 win in this one barring another late break when serving for the match as he had in Shanghai.

Marin Cilic - 3.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: There is still a really big opportunity for Marin Cilic to reach the ATP World Tour Finals with two big weeks under his belt and that would be a nice way to end his Singles season before heading into the Davis Cup. This gives him a strong chance to reach the Quarter Final in Basel as Cilic is playing Pablo Carreno Busta in the Second Round, a player who has played a lot of tennis of late.

The Spaniard is in a position to be Seeded at the Australian Open and Carreno Busta has shown some improvements on surfaces other than the clay courts. His title win in Moscow last week has to be respected, but Carreno Busta didn't have to beat anyone of the quality of Cilic in that run and this is a big test for him.

Carreno Busta has suffered a couple of one-sided losses to Milos Raonic and Gilles Simon on the hard courts prior to the win in Moscow and Cilic is certainly more equivalent to the qualities that those two players can bring. I think an aggressive return will put Carreno Busta under some pressure and the heavier groundstrokes should come from the Cilic racquet although he will have to control the unforced errors.

There are going to be some sticky moments on the Cilic serve because of the way that Carreno Busta is playing, but I think the Croatian can keep alive his chances of making it to London with a 64, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Simona Halep - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-12, - 7.76 Units (42 Units Staked, - 18.48% Yield)

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