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Friday, 28 October 2016

WTA Finals Picks 2016 (October 28th)

The Red Group in the WTA Finals was completed on Thursday and it might be something of a surprise to see Dominika Cibulkova make it through to the Semi Final having begun the day with two defeats in the Group. She can thank a focused Angelique Kerber for coming out and playing with total professionalism too as Madison Keys just needed to win a set to make it through to the Semi Final at Cibulkova's expense, but Kerber recovered a second set break deficit to come through in two straight sets.

This is a big achievement for Kerber, even though she has won two Grand Slam titles in 2016 which is a much bigger achievement. However it can't be ignored that Kerber had never made it past the Groups in the WTA Finals before and she clearly arrived in Singapore with huge focus behind her.

Kerber will find out her Semi Final opponent on Friday as the winner of Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova will make it through as second place in the White Group. Svetlana Kuznetsova won that Group on Wednesday and will play Cibulkova in the other Semi Final, although it is unclear as to how focused a clearly tired Kuznetsova will be in her final meaningless Group match.

Friday will see the WTA Finals Semi Final line up put together and will also see the ATP Basel and ATP Vienna Semi Finals decided. It is another big day on the Tour with eight Quarter Finals across those two tournaments and two Group matches in Singapore to get through.

The picks had an awful Wednesday when little to no luck was received for so many of the picks. I was just hoping to have a little more of that on my side and did get some of that back with the picks going 4-1 on Thursday.

It gives me a chance to produce a third week in a row with a winning record over the next three days and I will be looking to do that.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: I have no interest in trying to pick a winner from the first match in Singapore on Friday as it is a dead rubber in which I can't see a reason for either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Garbine Muguruza to really want to push for the win. That looks like it could be a case of who can 'tank' the most effectively, but the second match has plenty on the line.

Both Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova have a chance to be the last Singles player to make it through to the Semi Final in the WTA Finals and that means plenty of motivation for both. Radwanska is the defending Champion here and has a very strong 6-0 record against Pliskova and is yet to drop a set against this opponent, and it has to be said that these head to head records have proved quite decisive in a couple of the matches.

That isn't a sole reason you can pick anyone to win a match, but I do think there has to be some concern about Pliskova's ability to produce her best serves. That is imperative for her whole game but Pliskova struggled against Svetlana Kuznetsova to get the pop we are used to and being dragged into long rallies with Radwanska is only going to lead to one winner.

Pliskova has admitted to having some issue with the shoulder which would also have been a little more sore having played in the Doubles Quarter Final. It would take something special for the issue to have cleared up in time for this Group match and I think Radwanska can take advantage, while she is also capable of extending rallies to wear down her opponent who has already had a lot of tennis in the legs this week.

The conditions are ones that Radwanska should enjoy having won the title here last season and I think she will be able to battle through a couple of tight service games for big holds at big moments. Pliskova will be dangerous if she decides she has no choice but to hit out, but I still think Radwanska can earn her way to a 64, 63 win and a place in the Semi Final.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: The head to head might read 4-0 in favour of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but that doesn't tell you how competitive matches between the Frenchman and Albert Ramos-Vinolas have been the last two times they have played on the Tour. Both of those matches have gone the distance before Tsonga has gotten the better of Ramos-Vinolas, but I am backing Tsonga to have a slightly more routine day in Vienna on Friday.

I have to respect the fact that Ramos-Vinolas was willing to dig as deep as he did to beat home favourite Jurgen Melzer on Thursday. It also can't be ignored that while the Spaniard might not be as keen on this time of the season on the Tour and has struggled for wins, he did reach the Final in Chengdu when he picks up some momentum, while the lefty serve is automatically going into the weaker Tsonga wing.

Those are all factors that are pointing to Ramos-Vinolas, but you have to appreciate how close he came to losing to Melzer on Thursday. Someone like Tsonga is unlikely to let him off the hook and I think the conditions will favour the heavier game Tsonga has which will allow him to push the Spaniard backwards.

If Tsonga is serving well he can also put some pressure on Ramos-Vinolas from a mental standpoint and I think it will be Tsonga who has the majority of break points in this one. Some of the Ramos-Vinolas losses since the US Open have come in comfortable fashion and I think Tsonga is capable of making life easier than usual against this opponent with a 75, 63 win.

John Isner + 3.5 games v Andy Murray: The chase to become World Number 1 for the first time in his career means Andy Murray is perhaps playing more tennis at the moment than even he would like to be doing. 2016 has been a long season for Murray and overcoming Novak Djokovic's lead to become World Number 1 is a distinct possibility in the next couple of weeks, but it will mean winning more tennis matches.

There have been a couple of signs that perhaps Murray is feeling all that tennis and this might be a rare occasion when he is happy to be facing someone like John Isner. The serve is a difficult shot to deal with, but Murray won't be taxed too much from a physical standpoint as the rallies are unlikely to develop into the long ones he had to face against Gilles Simon.

I am of the belief that Isner has lost a little bit around his game, but the indoor hard court conditions should be just about perfect for his serve. He might be even more dangerous if Murray is serving as poorly as he did on Thursday, but I think Murray is one of the smarter players on the Tour who will take something off the first serve to make sure he keeps the pressure on Isner.

I do think there is potentially a chance that Murray is going to just have some troubles again in this one and a break of serve for Isner could be crucial with the number of games he is being given. Even without that break, Isner has the kind of serve that might be tough for a mentally tired Murray to break down twice and this could easily end 76, 64 in favour of the British player and I can't help this is too many games at odds against for Isner to have.

Federico Delbonis + 3.5 games v Gilles Muller: A battle between two big serving lefty players takes place in the Quarter Final at Basel today and I think Gilles Muller looks a vulnerable favourite outright, let alone one that is being given as many games as he is here to cover.

Muller is being asked to cover 3.5 games which feels a lot when you think how competitive Federico Delbonis has been over the last six weeks even if he has struggled to get over the lines with wins. Delbonis is trying to show the Davis Cup team that he is going to be capable to back Juan Martin Del Potro in the Final against Croatia next month and this week he has finally got back to winning ways after those tight losses I mentioned.

The key for Delbonis in this entire match is going to be serving well and making sure Muller is not able to put the scoreboard pressure on him. Muller has been enjoying his best season on the Tour and has two impressive wins behind him this week, but a loss to Dustin Brown in Stockholm might suggest a long season is perhaps getting the better of him.

He was perhaps a little fortunate to beat Grigor Dimitrov earlier this week and Muller can be put under some pressure by Delbonis if the Argentinian is serving well himself. Delbonis would have got within this number of games in his last five losses on the Tour in a best of three match and I think he has enough quality to do that here.

Kei Nishikori v Juan Martin Del Potro: The head to head reads 4-0 in favour of Juan Martin Del Potro but this is the first time these players will meet one another since Kei Nishikori has earned his way into the top echelons of the men's game. The last time they played one another was in the London Olympic Games in 2012 and Del Potro has yet to drop a set against Nishikori.

This has been another good week on the Tour for Del Potro who has no Ranking points to defend over the next few months which can see him get very close to being back inside the top 10 on his current form. Winning the title in Stockholm last week and following that up with a couple of impressive wins in Basel continue to show that Del Potro is on the right path on his return from injuries.

In saying that, there has to be some tiredness in the Del Potro game having played a lot more tennis over the last two weeks than he has perhaps got used to. He was given a scare by David Goffin on Thursday and that is the kind of match that can sap some energy, while Nishikori will play with a similar style to try and take the big man into deep waters in this Quarter Final.

The Del Potro serve is a potent weapon though and can get him out of a jam or two like it did on Thursday, but I can feel the number of matches begin to wear on Del Potro. Nishikori will always have some sticky moments on serve, but if he can stay with Del Potro early in the match, I can see him wear him down over three sets and I will back Nishikori as the underdog to win outright.

Marcel Granollers + 4.5 games v Marin Cilic: This looks like a lot of games to give Marcel Granollers in this Quarter Final in Basel and I think he can make them count against Marin Cilic, even if the Croatian is finishing this season with some solid form behind him. Cilic has every chance of making it to the World Tour Finals again while he also has a big Davis Cup Final to look forward to, but he has been focused with two solid wins behind him.

However Cilic almost made things difficult for himself when being pushed to a tie-breaker by Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday after initially winning the first set with a bagel to his name. That remains an issue for Cilic who can fluctuate in form and then suddenly lose a run of points out of nowhere.

Someone as steady as Granollers can make hay at that point and the Spaniard is coming in off an impressive win over Jack Sock in the Second Round. He has also beaten Tomas Berdych since the US Open and his 1-6 record against Cilic on the head to head won't concern him too much as many of those matches have been competitive.

A Marin Cilic who is at the top of his game would win this match and fairly comfortably too, but I am not sure he can reach those levels for long enough. Instead I would not be surprised if Granollers is able to steal a set during one of the Cilic down moments and that makes this number of games very appealing.

MY PICKS: Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
John Isner + 3.5 Games @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Federico Delbonis + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori @ 2.20 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Marcel Granollers + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 13-13, - 2.88 Units (52 Units Staked, - 5.54% Yield)

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