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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (January 12th)

We are down to the Quarter Finals in most cases in tournaments this week and for the WTA Sydney event we have got to the Semi Finals as the attention begins to turn to the Australian Open draw which takes place on Friday.

It has been a decent week for the picks, but it could have been even better if Ryan Harrison had managed to win one more game in his loss to Jack Sock on Wednesday. The match did go into a deciding set as I anticipated, but Harrison lost that 6-1 which allowed Sock to come through with a cover by a single game.

Things happen and it has been a solid enough week which I want to end in the right way and then we can focus on the Australian Open which begins on Monday, but actually starts on Sunday evening for those of us in the United Kingdom. Most of the matches at this time of the season are played during the sleeping hours for us over in this part of the world, but that is the way it goes and most of the next few months will be played at much more reasonable hours.

Joao Sousa - 1.5 games v Robin Haase: A win over David Ferrer in the Second Round has to give Robin Haase confidence to take into the rest of the tournament in Auckland. I have to admit I am surprised that Haase is up to Number 58 in the World Rankings considering he has not had more than 15 wins on the main ATP Tour in any of the last three seasons, but successes on the Challenger circuit have kept in a decent position.

The layers have set this as almost a pick 'em contest between Haase and Joao Sousa and there isn't much that separates them in the World Rankings. Sousa has had two decent wins in Auckland this week to build his own confidence in his first appearance in 2017 especially after coming in off a tough 2016 following a career best year in 2015.

Neither player is at their best on the hard courts but will be looking at the clay court season in which to build their points over the course of the year. However I do think Sousa has had considerably more success on this surface than Haase in recent years which might be a surprise considering the Dutchman has the stronger serve and should have an edge in the power department.

The Sousa consistency is where he is going to have an edge in the match and I do think it might be tough for Haase to back up his win over Ferrer having spent more time on court than Sousa. The courts are playing pretty fast in Auckland, but Sousa has played well on the indoor hard courts and I think the speed won't bother him as much as you may expect on the face of things.

It was Haase who dominated proceedings when these players met in Marseille but Sousa got some revenge when they played at the Olympic Games in Rio. The first serve is going to be critical for Haase in this Quarter Final, but I think Sousa can get the better of someone who had a big upset win on Wednesday and can find that tough to back up. It could easily go into a third set, but Sousa can come through with a 64, 46, 64 win and a place in the Semi Final.

John Isner-Steve Johnson Over 10.5 Total Games Set One: This is never an easy market to get involved in simply because all it takes is a couple of special returns and a break is generated. The problem for Steve Johnson and John Isner is that being broken will almost certainly mean the end of the set for them, but I do think there is every chance these two players will get to at least five all in the first set.

Both are heavily reliant on the serve and neither is a great returner, while the quicker conditions in Auckland might highlight both of those areas of their game. In four of their six previous matches it has needed a tie-breaker to decide the first set, while more than half of their fifteen completed sets have ended in a tie-breaker.

Johnson has been serving well this week having faced just two break points in his two matches, but he could only create one break point in his last match against Yen-Hsun Lu. There were breaks in the first two sets in the John Isner match against Malek Jaziri, but the percentage of points won against serve were not exactly inspiring.

Both players can look after their serve for long enough to get over this number in the first set and I will back that outcome from this Quarter Final.

Eugenie Bouchard + 3.5 games v Johanna Konta: I am the first to admit that I have felt Eugenie Bouchard has been one of the most over-rated players on the WTA Tour who are desperate for a new face to replace the likes of Maria Sharapova at the forefront of their campaigns. Journalists and experts have always tended to favour the blonde bombshell, like previously with Anna Kournikova, but Bouchard has at least been a little better on the court than the Russian.

It has been a tough eighteen months for Bouchard though and she has slipped down the World Rankings and is now regularly over-rated by fans and experts alike. However this is a very positive week for Bouchard with three wins over players Ranked higher than the Canadian and she has to be confident going into this Semi Final.

This is a big task for Bouchard against Johanna Konta who has had a tremendously successful twelve months and has shown she is still working hard to develop with her start in 2017. Her three wins in Sydney have been very impressive and Konta will feel she can match the Semi Final run at the Australian Open in 2016 in her current form.

Konta is the better player on a consistent basis, but I do think Bouchard can put together enough tennis at a slightly higher level than Konta which can help her take a set. Her form this week suggests this will be a close match and Konta could have some problems if Bouchard brings her very best to the court. Overall I do think Konta's steady play gets her through the match, but this is enough games to make Bouchard an appealing pick and I will back her to keep this competitive at the very least.

MY PICKS: Joao Sousa - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
John Isner-Steve Johnson Over 10.5 Games Set One @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Eugenie Bouchard + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-2, + 3.20 Units (12 Units Staked, + 26.67% Yield)

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