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Monday, 23 January 2017

Australian Open Tennis Day 9 Picks 2017 (January 24th)

You have to give the layers a lot of credit for the way they had the markets priced up on Day 8, but I was fortunate to get on the right side of a 5-3 day which has kept the positive momentum going.

Both Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic missed the cover by a single game which would have produced another really big day, but I will take a winning record every time and look for this tournament to end with a successful return.

We have got to the Quarter Final Round of the tournament and I still think both men's and women's events are very open for all the players. I don't think anyone could pick the winner with any real confidence at this point and I am just looking forward to a few days of exceptional tennis to come.

Stan Wawrinka - 1.5 sets v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: There are four Quarter Finals being played on Tuesday and this looks by far the most intriguing of the four. Both Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have reached the Final at the Australian Open before, but it is Wawrinka who has managed to take the next step and actually bring home Grand Slam victories.

It was the Australian Open which was the first Slam Wawrinka won, but he has managed to do the same at the French Open and US Open and I think that gives him an edge in this match. While Tsonga may be a little edgy and wondering if he will ever get a better chance to win a Grand Slam title, Stan Wawrinka has to come into the Quarter Final knowing he has been there and done it before and that can ease any nerves going into the match.

Both players have played well here in the tournament and I am anticipating a really good Quarter Final between them. Tsonga has been serving really effectively which gives the rest of his game plenty of confidence, but Wawrinka has also been looking after serve well enough and looked to be getting stronger, like he does, when he reaches the business end of tournaments.

It is hard to discount the importance of the fact that Stan Wawrinka has also won their last three head to head matches, whilst also beating Tsonga in three of their four previous best of five set matches. That includes a convincing four set win in the Davis Cup Final in 2014 and a four set win at the French Open on his way to winning the title at Roland Garros in 2015.

If Tsonga serves well, he can be a very dangerous opponent and mentally grind down players, but the Frenchman is faced with plenty of aggression coming back at him from the other side of the court. Tsonga won't want to get into too many backhand to backhand rallies and has to show off his net skills to put some pressure on Wawrinka, but I think the Swiss man doesn't mind the match up and comes through in three or four competitive sets.

Roger Federer - 7.5 games v Mischa Zverev: I thought Andy Murray was being asked to cover a lot of games in the Fourth Round when going up against Mischa Zverev (9.5 game handicap) but I never anticipated he would be going out against the German. It was a stunner of an upset to sit right up alongside Denis Istomin's win over Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament and Zverev has opened up the men's tournament completely.

The German showed plenty of self-belief in his win over Murray, but things don't get any easier as he gets to take on 17 time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer for a place in the Semi Final. The return of Roger Federer has been wonderful to watch and he has shown he is ready to compete for another Australian Open title after positive performances in wins over Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori.

Federer is clearly unworried about being pushed into five sets by Nishikori in the Fourth Round and his fitness seems to be exactly where he wants it. Unlike Murray, I expect Federer to be a lot more dominant behind his serve in this match which is going to increase the pressure on Zverev to be able to come to the net.

The former World Number 1 is also very comfortable at the net and I would not be surprised if he looks to take that away from Zverev by coming forward aggressively where he can too. Federer should be able to return well enough to have Zverev try and win points with incredible net play again and I simply cannot see that happening over a couple of hours they will be spending out on the court.

It won't be as easy as when Federer last played Zverev- Federer won 6-0, 6-0 in Halle on the grass in 2013- but I do think Federer wears down Zverev with his shot making, aggression and power and can come through with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 kind of win.

Venus Williams v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: When this Quarter Final had been set a couple of days ago, Venus Williams was the slight favourite to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has already had two upsets to reach this Round. However there has been a drift in that time and now it is Venus who is the underdog, although a narrow one in what was always looking to be a pick 'em Quarter Final.

Both women will feel this tournament has opened up with the exits of Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber from the top half of the draw and both Williams and Pavlyuchenkova have to feel they have every chance of competing in a Grand Slam Final. For Venus it is the chance to reach a first Final since Wimbledon 2009 and she should be confident having reached the Semi Final at Wimbledon just last July.

However Pavlyuchenkova is a Junior Champion here and playing with a lot of power and aggression which is making it hard for opponents to fight back. Hitting deep balls with power and showing the consistency to keep the rallies going makes the Russian a really tough player to beat, but I do think Venus can use all of her experience to get the better of her in this one.

Venus has been serving well enough and she is a player who will be able to shorten the points where possible and try and get to the net to do so. I love how Pavlyuchenkova has been playing this week and having backed her twice as the underdog in back to back Rounds, I do feel a little guilty in going up against her this time.

However I think Venus Williams is going to be a little too good at the big moments in a match that should have some swings and roundabouts through the couple of hours they are out there. I did consider backing the match go into a third set or cover the total games market, but my overriding feeling has been Venus Williams will be a little too good and I will back her to win this Quarter Final.

Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 games v Coco Vandeweghe: If you like some big hitting tennis with huge serves and heavy groundstrokes, this is the Quarter Final for you when Garbine Muguruza takes on Coco Vandeweghe on Day 9 of the Australian Open.

That is clearly the first place to start with both Vandeweghe and Muguruza in dominant form behind the serve which makes the rest of their game much easier to handle. When you know you're not going to give up too many breaks of serve, you can start teeing off on the return and not many players can serve as well as these two when they are at their absolute best.

The match does look a tight one on paper with both players showing good form during the first week of the Australian Open so the key is to work out where I think the difference can be made.

I believe Muguruza's previous successes at the Grand Slam level will help her, but Vandeweghe does not lack any confidence in her own ability at all and that kind of evens itself out. However I do think Muguruza is the better returner and has a definite edge when it comes to the backhand battles and that can see her just get the better of the American.

Both have shown they can come to the net and put away volleys so there will be some tennis played away from the big hitting baseline match that most will expect to see. However volleying will have to be at the very best to control the power that Muguruza and Vandeweghe will be trying to pass with and so I do think the key aspect will be the Spaniard's superior returning and stronger backhand.

I love the Vandeweghe attitude on the court and have a lot of time for her. But ultimately I think he may just come up short in this Quarter Final as Muguruza puts her stamp on enough rallies to pull through for a 7-6, 6-3 win and a place in yet another Slam Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Venus Williams @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 39-32, + 11.06 Units (137 Units Staked, + 8.07% Yield)

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