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Sunday, 30 October 2016

WTA Finals Picks 2016 (October 30th)

There might be an Elite Trophy tournament being played in China next week, but for most fans this will be considered the end of the WTA season when the Final of the WTA Finals is played between Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova who have already played once before in the Groups.

I will never understand the reasoning behind the WTA season ending with the Elite Trophy rather than the WTA Finals, although it has been announced that it is going to be looked at and we could potentially see that change by the 2017 season.

Sunday will also see the tournaments in Vienna and Basel come to a close with the Finals of those events while the Paris Masters completes the Qualifiers ahead of that tournament beginning on Monday.

Saturday proved to be another strong day for the picks with the four made seeing one voided because of a withdrawal and the other three producing winners. That has completely turned around the horrific Wednesday when the picks went 1-6 and looked destined to see me end this week with a losing record, but now I am almost assured of a solid end to the week.

I want to underline it with three winners on Sunday to ensure a strong week as I have a pick from each of the three Finals that will be played.

Dominika Cibulkova + 4.5 games v Angelique Kerber: The World Number 1 is the deserved favourite to win the WTA Finals and I think there are a lot of factors pointing her way. Angelique Kerber has gotten stronger and stronger in each match played in Singapore since being pushed all the way by Dominika Cibulkova in her first match in the Group and a second win over the Slovakian would be enough to add this title to the Australian and US Open titles she won during the season.

I have a lot of respect for Cibulkova and I am surprised she is being given a game more in this Final than she was in the Group match against one another. Part of the reason has to be that Cibulkova has needed three sets to win her last two matches compared with Kerber who has barely lost games in that time, but I think Cibulkova has the kind of fight in her game to not allow herself to fall apart.

Cibulkova will very much know she is going to have a few weeks off from the Tour after this match so has every reason to leave it all out there and the Kerber serve has not been firing to the point that her opponent can't feel she won't get opportunities to break serve. Her own serve is a concern, especially if fatigue issues are in play, but I can see Cibulkova having some success in this one to make it a close match.

Almost nothing separated them when the played last week and Cibulkova can take heart from that performance. She will need to win a few big points to make sure she keeps this competitive, but I will back Cibulkova with a healthy amount of games being offered to her in this Final of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Kei Nishikori - 1.5 games v Marin Cilic: Both of these players might feel they had a bit of an escape in their respective Semi Final matches to eventually get through to the Final in Basel. Kei Nishikori went match point down to Gilles Muller before turning things in his favour, while Marin Cilic also had to come from a set down to beat Mischa Zverev having come close to the brink of defeat in the second set.

It is Nishikori who has managed to get the better of Marin Cilic in their previous matches with a 7-4 lead, but one of those defeats did come in the Final of the US Open 2014. That is by far the biggest match these two have played against one another but Nishikori had won twice in a row since that match against Cilic before being forced to retire at Wimbledon back in July.

You can see why Nishikori would match up well with Cilic- while the power is clearly with the Croatian, Cilic's consistency can be hard to call upon and that is where Nishikori will continue to get lots of balls in play and pressure the second serves he sees. Cilic might hit a few more aces, but Nishikori won't let that bother him and I think something similar will occur in this Final.

The points mean more to Cilic who is chasing a place in London for the ATP World Tour Finals, but I think Nishikori will prove too strong on the day by dragging Cilic deep into a third set. It can lead to a 36, 63, 64 win for Nishikori as he wears down his opponent and I will back the Japanese player to lift the title in Basel on Sunday afternoon.

Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Two players who are familiar with each other on and off the court will contest the Final in Vienna as Andy Murray takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the title. Both players have plenty of motivation to win here with Murray looking to close the gap on Novak Djokovic to the World Number 1 spot and Tsonga hoping to add vital points in a last ditch effort to make it to the World Tour Finals in London.

Murray was the recipient of a bye through to the Final when David Ferrer withdrew before the two players were to take to the court and that could be important. Especially so when you think Tsonga had to beat Ivo Karlovic in three sets where he expended a lot of emotional energy in recovering a second set break and then having to overcome his own serve being broken when ahead in the third set.

That emotional energy being sapped can really take something out of a player and I think it could work against Tsonga. I do have to respect that he has given Murray plenty of trouble in their past meetings with his big serve and the capability of playing some really special tennis which opens up break point opportunities.

However I am not sure the court is going to help his serve be as potent as it can be and Tsonga may have to work harder for his points which can be tough when you're not at the top of your game. The serve has really not been firing as it can with three breaks given up to Ivo Karlovic and Tsonga also having a few issues against Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Murray has shown he can be devastating against the biggest servers if they are not hitting their marks when he crushed John Isner here in the Quarter Final and I think the rest he has received the last couple of days plays out here. After a few issues on serve, Murray can eventually take control in a 64, 63 win and another title to add to his name.

MY PICKS: Dominika Cibulkova + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 20-15, + 7.18 Units (70 Units Staked, + 10.26% Yield)

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