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United Corner- Manchester United, New Season, Increased Expectations (August 11th)

United Corner- Manchester United, New Season, Increased Expectations (August 11th 2017) If you were going to grade the 2016/17 season...

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Paris Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (November 5th)

Novak Djokovic was stunned in his Quarter Final match against Marin Cilic who he had never been beaten by on the main Tour and that has opened the door for Andy Murray to become the World Number 1.

Another win for Murray on Saturday will send Murray to the top of the World Rankings on Monday in what would be the final thing to check off in what has been a stunning career. He might never reach the level of the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Djokovic in terms of their historical positions, but Murray has to be given a lot of credit for winning majors and reaching the top of the World Rankings while those players are still around.

Murray has won Grand Slam titles, a number of Masters events, the Davis Cup, two Olympic Gold Medals and potentially reaches the World Number 1 spot on Saturday and I am sure he would have accepted that as a career when he began playing tennis. All credit to him if achieves that, and even if Murray misses out tomorrow you have to think it is only a matter of time before he does hit the top spot in the Rankings.

It is a testament to his consistency that he has will have potentially reached World Number 1 when you consider Novak Djokovic has won two of the four Grand Slam titles in 2016 and Murray won one. Both reached three Finals but Novak Djokovic has not been able to find his form over the last few months which has cost him his place compared with Murray who has been winning titles and plenty of matches.

I find it hard to imagine Murray will be a long-term Number 1 and I don't think he will be going into tournaments as the favourite despite his World Ranking, but no one will ever be able to take this achievement for him. There will be more calls for him to be Knighted from certain sections of the media, but I have never really thought simply being really good in your sport is another reason to be given that honour.

That is a different take on matters though and I just think the concentration should be on Murray's achievements in his career.


On Saturday we get to the Semi Final matches in Paris and at the WTA Elite Trophy. Next week we have no tennis of note before the Fed Cup begins at the end of the week and the World Tour Finals get going on Sunday. I am looking for two more good days for the picks to get this week ending on a strong note before the break of a few days going into the World Tour Finals.


Petra Kvitova - 4.5 games v Shuai Zhang: 2016 will always be looked back upon by Shuai Zhang as a memorable season for her and she has the chance to play for the WTA Elite Trophy if she can win this Semi Final. It is hard to think that it hasn't been that long since Zhang was considering her future in the game with results failing to be produced on the court despite the hard work off it.

This season that has paid off and Zhang won't want the 2016 season to come to an end just yet with the home fans fully behind her. However she is going to be facing a huge challenge in the form of Petra Kvitova who has played well in Asian in her career and who has been in dominant form in her two matches this week.

A lot of this match is going to be dictated by the Kvitova racquet as she has the power advantage and should be the stronger player if she can maintain some consistency. Zhang will try to fight fire with fire, but she doesn't get the same amount of cheap points from the serve as Kvitova does when she is serving well and that is an issue for her.

Both players have had some positive results to end the 2016 season, but Kvitova is trying to keep the momentum behind her with Fed Cup duties next week and she has been serving well enough to come through with a 63, 64 win in this Semi Final.


Elina Svitolina + 2.5 games v Johanna Konta: Another player who has had a memorable 2016 season is Johanna Konta and she is looking to end it with another title as she will be heading into the next season as a top ten player in the World Ranking. Any disappointment of missing out on a place in the WTA Finals has been forgotten by Konta who has had two very good wins this week.

Even with that in mind, I do think Elina Svitolina is the toughest player she would have met so far in the WTA Elite Trophy and this is a player who has been ending the season in strong form. The Ukrainian player might not want to go back to the tournament in Moscow due to off court issues, but she has won two matches this week to make the Semi Final as she bids to take the next step in her career in 2017.

The match up looks to be a good one and I can see both Konta and Svitolina having their moments in this one while I am giving Konta the edge when it comes to consistency with her play from the back of the court. However I do think Svitolina can perhaps reach a higher level when she begins to produce some unplayable tennis and that makes it hard to separate these players in this Semi Final.

I actually had this set as a pick 'em Semi Final so I am surprised that Svitolina is being given as many games as she has in this one. That has tempted me in, especially at odds against, and I think Svitolina can push Konta all the way in this one and I wouldn't be surprised if she is able to win this match outright so I will back the Ukrainian with the games.


Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v John Isner: After fourteen losses in a row, Marin Cilic finally beat Novak Djokovic when they met in the Quarter Final and that might be the win that knocks Djokovic from the top of the World Rankings. Marin Cilic isn't worrying about those matters but simply looking to end 2016 in the kind of form he can use early in 2017 at the Australian Open and he is well on the way to doing that.

He has yet to really recover the kind of form that took him to the US Open title in 2014, but Cilic has looked better the last few weeks and the win over Djokovic should be huge for his confidence. It can be hard to back up such impressive wins, but Cilic has a very strong 6-0 head to head advantage over John Isner and I think the Croatian can find the breaks of serve to win this match.

John Isner just hasn't looked right in the last few weeks of the season with his serve the only thing that is really working with consistency. But even the serve has let him down at times with players able to get that back in play and watch Isner implode behind it and Cilic has the big reach to make sure he gets enough balls back in play in this one.

With a win over Ivo Karlovic already this week, Cilic has recently experienced facing a big serve and he should be the stronger player as long as he plays smart and does not give up his own serve easily. Isner is a limited returner, but Cilic doesn't want to give him too many second serves to look at and preventing that should see him have the edge in this match.

I will be looking for Cilic to try and match the three breaks of serve Jack Sock had against John Isner on Friday and that should be good enough to win this match and cover the number.


Andy Murray - 3.5 games v Milos Raonic: Andy Murray admitted there were some nerves going into his Quarter Final with Tomas Berdych with the Number 1 spot on the line in the next couple of days, but he managed to get himself mentally ready to go. I am sure he will be feeling some nerves again, but Murray has to feel he can nullify the Milos Raonic serve and getting into the rallies will give him a big edge in this match.

There won't be any concern facing Raonic in terms of what to expect- Murray will be well aware that Raonic is going to try and dominate behind a big first serve and a heavy forehand to follow that up, but Murray will look to attack the second serve and also try and get most returns and shots into the backhand wing of the Canadian.

Murray will more than expect to win the majority of those rallies that last more than four or five shots and he has been serving well enough to prevent a limited returner from really getting into the match. Any belief that this is going to be an easy day in the office will be put to the back of the mind by remembering how close Raonic came to beating Murray at the Australian Open, but Murray has won all five matches played between them and that should give him the mental edge.

This has been a good week for Raonic, but he hadn't been in the kind of form Murray has brought into the tournament and I think the latter is going to be too good for him on the day. A couple of breaks of serve might be enough for Murray to come through with a 64, 64 win and I like the British player to become the World Number 1 on Saturday.

MY PICKS: Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 16-10, + 10.76 Units (52 Units Staked, + 20.69% Yield)

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