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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Paris Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (November 2nd)

Tomas Berdych escaped with a win on Wednesday to become the first of the players chasing the final spots at the World Tour Finals to make it through to the Third Round. He can have a rest on Wednesday and allow his rivals for those places to battle it out, while both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic get their events underway as they battle it out for the World Number 1 spot in the World Ranking.

The WTA Elite Trophy moves onto the second day as the four Groups begin to take shape too on what is a very busy Wednesday in terms of amount of matches to get through on a full day of action.

David Goffin - 3.5 games v Nicolas Mahut: There are four players who are battling for the remaining two spots at the World Tour Finals this week in Paris and David Goffin is the one who needs most help. He is in a good position to at least reach London as an alternate and Goffin may also feel he needs to finish as high as possible with Gael Monfils withdrawing this week from Paris with an injury he wants to rest.

Goffin will need at least two of the players above him to fall early on this week so he won't have been happy seeing Tomas Berdych sneak through to the Third Round, but he can only concentrate on his own matches. Playing a home favourite is always going to be tough, but Nicolas Mahut needs to improve his performance significantly if he is going to beat a player Ranked as highly as Goffin is.

They have met recently on the Tour and Goffin was dominant in the match and Mahut has struggled for form since then. Even his win over Martin Klizan came from a position where Mahut trailed by a set and a break and falling into that kind of hole against Goffin is going to be very much more difficult to recover.

The key for Mahut is getting enough first serves in play to earn cheap points and short balls because his second serve will be attacked by Goffin and the latter is the superior player from the back of the court. Goffin should be playing with plenty of motivation and he can take care of Mahut where Klizan failed and come through with a 63, 75 win.

Kei Nishikori - 4.5 games v Victor Troicki: This is not the final week of the season for Kei Nishikori who will be playing in the World Tour Finals in London, so there is a question as to how much motivation he has for a big week. Nishikori is coming off a strong week where he reached the Final in Basel and there is a week between the end of the tournament in Paris and the beginning of the World Tour Finals in London so concerns about motivation have perhaps been able to be put to the back of the mind.

Fatigue could potentially be an issue later in the week, but Nishikori has had a few days off and has enjoyed the match up with Troicki having beaten him the last four times they have played. Troicki is an up and down player, but he has had some notable wins on the Tour since the US Open against the likes of Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

The problem for Troicki is avoiding the losses that he simply shouldn't be having although he did manage to do that in the First Round here when beating Adrian Mannarino. The serve can be a big weapon, but Nishikori has to feel he can break down the Troicki forehand in the extended rallies and also use his superior movement and consistency to get the Serb moving side to side.

Troicki had a pretty long match on Tuesday and this may play a part in this match too. The courts here have tended to be on the faster side but Nishikori can get enough serves back in play to force errors from his opponent. After some moments where Nishikori will have to serve himself out of bad positions, I can see the Japanese player continuing his dominance over Troicki with a 75, 63 win.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Ivo Karlovic: Winning the title in Basel has put Marin Cilic in a position to qualify for the World Tour Finals in London, but he has to back that up this week and keep clear of Tomas Berdych and David Goffin. At this moment Cilic is only 40 points clear of Berdych in the final position in London and Cilic is also trying to build some form to take into the Davis Cup Final in a few weeks ago.

Getting to London will mean overcoming compatriot Ivo Karlovic who is a big obstacle to say the least. The serve makes Karlovic very dangerous and he has had some solid results over the second half of the season which suggests the veteran is showing very little sign of slowing down.

That has a lot to do with his game and the ease in which he can get through matches without the physical effort that other players might have to use. He might need more in this one though as Cilic's wingspan should mean he is able to get a few more balls in play that smaller players are unable to do.

Karlovic's ability to get to the net should mean a few problems for Cilic to get into a lot of the service games and Karlovic was an impressive winner over Cilic at the Canadian Masters this past summer. However Cilic has been able to return better than he did on that occasion and I think there is enough motivation for him to play well here to come away with a 76, 64 win.

Lucas Pouille - 1.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: I backed Lucas Pouille to beat Feliciano Lopez when these players met last week in Vienna and it was a very close match that the Frenchman might feel he should have won. With the home crowd behind him this week, I am backing Pouille to have a little more success at the big moments and get the better of Lopez who has already beaten one Frenchman this week.

They had very similar numbers when they played last week with Lopez having a bit more joy on the ace front, and Pouille having a couple more double faults which seemed to make all the difference. It did look like Pouille had built up the momentum to win that match and had the break points in the final set to do so before coming up just short.

It would be wrong of me to suddenly think Pouille shouldn't be the favourite in this match because of that close loss that could easily have gone his way. He has played with some real quality this season, but it will be important for him to try and take away the big Lopez first serve from what he has learned last week and having the crowd really behind him can give Pouille the motivation to dig in a little deeper.

I won't be surprised if we need three sets to separate the players again, but this time I think Pouille comes away with a 46, 63, 64 win.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: Losing the Final in Vienna means Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will miss out on a place at the World Tour Finals unless a number of withdrawals are made by players above him in the Race for London. Injuries have affected his 2016 season, but Tsonga can get the better of Albert Ramos-Vinolas again having beaten the Spaniard in the Quarter Final in Vienna last week.

Tsonga dominated the first set, but then began to struggle on serve with too many double faults giving Ramos-Vinolas confidence to try and get back into the match. At home Tsonga can play with a loud crowd behind him which is when he really thrives as a player and I think that can help him record a similar margin of victory as he had against him last week.

The problem for Ramos-Vinolas is that Tsonga should be able to get a very solid swing on the return against his first and second serve. There will be times the lefty serve is an issue for Tsonga whose weakest wing is the backhand, but I think the Frenchman can dominate the rallies with his first strike style and put Tsonga in a strong position in the match.

It would be easier for Tsonga if he is serving better than he was in Vienna, but even a similar level should help him come through with a 63, 64 win and a place in the Third Round.

Gilles Muller + 4.5 games v Novak Djokovic: For the first time since his surprising Semi Final loss in Shanghai, Novak Djokovic is back on the court as he looks to hold onto the World Number 1 Ranking he has had for a couple of years. Djokovic has to reach the Final at least this week if Andy Murray continues his fine form and does the same, but he could have hoped for an easier road into this tournament than the dangerous Gilles Muller.

It has been a solid few weeks for Muller who has reached the Semi Final in Basel and a Quarter Final in Tokyo, but he will need to be at his very best to challenge Djokovic. Two of their three previous matches have been very competitive and I do have to say that this is a Djokovic who might not be at his very best.

He has been speaking about the improvement he is feeling and it looks like Djokovic has been motivated by the fact that Murray has gotten so close to taking the World Number 1 spot. However there are some concerns about the Djokovic serve and whether it is going to be a shot that he can rely upon at big moments and Muller can hit out at times and make a few winners off the return which can help him force a break or two.

Muller has been serving well enough to challenge Djokovic with that shot too and this looks a lot of games to be given to the big serving lefty in this one. At odds against I have to back the games and look for Muller to keep this one competitive even if I am not sure he can actually complete the upset against what sounds like a newly motivated Djokovic.

Johanna Konta - 4.5 games v Samantha Stosur: Even though Johanna Konta just missed out on a place at the WTA Finals, this is going to be remembered as a huge year for the British player as she has marched up the World Rankings. She has been given a berth at the WTA Elite Trophy tournament and Konta will look to underline her successes in 2016 with one more title.

I will admit I am a little concerned with her injury that meant Konta couldn't play in the last couple of tournaments which may have seen her finish in one of the positions to play at the WTA Finals. However she headed to Singapore prior to that tournament beginning and could easily have pulled out of the WTA Elite Trophy which suggest she is ready to compete.

Her match up with Samantha Stosur should be one that Konta can enjoy, especially when the rallies go from backhand to backhand where Konta is clearly stronger. Both have big serves, but Stosur did not end the season in great form and she has lost four matches in a row with the majority of them coming fairly easily.

A new coach is in place, but we might not see the best of that new partnership until 2017 after an off-season where Stosur can get the ideas right in her mind as to how to progress. Some of the losses suffered by the Australian were not very good down the stretch and Konta was playing well enough before her injury to win a match like this one. It might take Konta a little time to get to grips with things here, but she can eventually come through 75, 63 and move into a strong position in her Group.

MY PICKS: David Goffin - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lucas Pouille - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gilles Muller + 4.5 Games @ 2.25 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-4, - 0.70 Units (16 Units Staked, - 4.38% Yield)

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