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Saturday, 12 November 2016

ATP World Tour Finals Tennis Picks 2016 (November 13th)

Andy Murray will go into his first professional tennis tournament as the best player in the world and he will get the chance to prove himself against the rest of the top eight players in 2016. For all the credit Murray has rightly received from the press in the United Kingdom, it has to be said that Murray has yet to secure the year end World Number 1 Ranking and could be vulnerable if Novak Djokovic wins the tournament with three Group wins behind him.

This has been a tournament that Murray has struggled to find his best tennis but the courts might play faster than it has done in the past and that is important for Murray. I have seen that the new World Number 1 is the favourite to win the title in London, but his past performances is one factor that would discourage me, while I also think he has been given the worst case scenario draw.

Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic make up Murray's Group and all three are very dangerous competitors who will test Murray's credentials from the off.

Picking two players to come out of that Group looks a test on its own, but Novak Djokovic has to be feeling a lot better about his own situation. While it has been a difficult five months for Djokovic which has seen him both hurt physically and emotionally, it is also a time for Djokovic to reclaim the World Number 1 spot with a strong showing in London.

Djokovic has won the ATP World Tour Finals in four consecutive years and clearly enjoys conditions here. However his defeats in recent weeks have to be a concern although I do think Djokovic can be plugged into one of the Semi Final spots out of a Group containing Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils. There are some real question marks about all three of those players from a physical standpoint and it won't be a surprise if the alternates heading to London are involved in this section.

The strong record Djokovic has against all three players in his Group is not enough reason to think he is going to dominate the section, but I do think he is getting closer to his best tennis and I am not sure any of the three men in his Group can play to a high enough level to beat him. That means Djokovic could be in a strong position to win this tournament at the end of the week with a day of rest between his last Group match and the Semi Final as well as the fact that the former World Number 1 is getting close to his best.

On Day 1 it is Novak Djokovic taking on Dominic Thiem and Gael Monfils facing Milos Raonic with the second Group beginning on Monday.

A long 2016 season is close to coming to an end and there has been some positive results for the picks over the last few weeks which has taken away some of the big losses from earlier this season. Have I changed much? Not as much as you would perhaps think but it does mean I could go into 2017 with a more positive frame of mind behind me.

Can I complete the turnaround this week in London? It won't be easy and will need a very strong record for the picks to do that, but I am going to stay focused on breaking down the matches and hope that is enough to swing the year around. Between July 2015 until June 2016 I had an absolutely terrible run which destroyed the 2015 season and also put in a really deep hole in 2016.

Since Wimbledon things have been a lot more consistent in a positive direction for the picks and I do expect to have a much better 2017. I do expect to get back to winning ways after successful years picking the tennis matches prior to the period I have mentioned and having a positive end to the season will make me feel there is some momentum to take into the 2017 season which will begin before you know it.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v Dominic Thiem: The first match at the ATP World Tour Finals is played between what many will consider as still the best player in the world against a youngster who has taken big steps on the Tour this past year. Novak Djokovic has gone into the opening match as a strong favourite to beat Dominic Thiem and recent form does make it seem like the upset could be some way away despite the relatively poor form Djokovic has produced.

That is relative to some of the best tennis I have seen from a player so any drop off doesn't make Djokovic a poor player, although there are more vulnerabilities these days, or so it seems to be. He has had some disappointing losses to the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut that can't really be understood barring Djokovic not being close to his best, while the serve continues to be an issue.

I imagine a lot of rest and recuperation will be needed in the off-season and I don't think Djokovic will play too much tennis between this tournament and the defence of the Australian Open title. There does seem to be an issue with his serve, but I am not sure Dominic Thiem is the man to expose them despite being a big fan of the Austrian.

For any player making the breakthrough to the level Thiem has this season it is difficult to maintain fitness at this time of the season. It has been a long season for Thiem and he hasn't looked right over the last month with heavy losses to Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Alexander Zverev, Victor Troicki and Jack Sock since reaching the Final in Metz. The loss to Sock in particular came when it looked like Thiem didn't have a lot left in the tank and the last ten days will have been vital for him to prepare for this tournament both physically and mentally.

The match up would usually be a tough one for Thiem but it might be even more difficult if he is struggling for fitness. He can definitely make life difficult for Djokovic for a while, but the feeling is that the Serbian player will start wearing him down in the longer rallies even if the courts are playing faster than usual in London. We have seen Thiem drop a few sets with a double break of serve down the stretch and I think Djokovic will eventually get on top of his own service problems to produce a 75, 62 win to open the World Tour Finals.

Gael Monfils v Milos Raonic: This feels like a Group containing some of the more physically hurt players in the ATP World Tour Finals and there are some doubts about what Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic are going to be able to do in London. There is definitely some more worries about the Canadian though and I do think Monfils comes in with a better health.

Raonic played in Paris, unlike Monfils, but he suffered a tear in his left quad that needs rest and puts his whole appearance in London in doubt. However it does look like Raonic will take his place in the draw for at least the opening match and I do believe the leg issue will mean his serve is perhaps not as dominant as it can be.

That takes away a huge part of the Raonic game and should mean Gael Monfils has every chance to beat him for the second time in a row and even up their 2016 record against one another. Monfils has had plenty of rest since last playing in Stockholm and has been looking forward to his first appearance at the World Tour Finals which suggests he is physically ready to go as he looks to finish the 2016 season in strong fashion.

If it wasn't for that leg issue for Raonic, I think he would have gone into this match as an even stronger favourite, but I can't have him as a favourite with the injury as it is. He might be healthy enough to play, but I am sure it is going to factor into what he can get out of his serve and Monfils can take advantage by getting enough balls back in play and win this match as the underdog.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 2.20 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gael Monfils @ 2.10 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Season 2016- 3.82 Units (1983 Units Staked, - 0.00% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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