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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (February 2nd)

The Davis Cup first day Singles rubbers will be announced on Thursday so there should be a pretty packed schedule of tennis on Friday, but that is not the case on Thursday when the two WTA tournaments complete their Quarter Final line up.

The picks had a difficult Wednesday as they went 1-2, and the week in a whole has been tough, but there is time to get that turned around. I will continue to focus on the tournament in St Petersburg for my picks on Thursday as I like three players from the Second Round matches to be played in that event.

There are potentially going to be a few more picks on Friday when the Davis Cup first two rubbers are to be played in a number of different ties around the globe. However I can't know for sure until those initial Singles ties are drawn and then there will be the research time to find the right angles from the right matches.

Alize Cornet v Elena Vesnina: An impressive First Round win over Ekaterina Makarova may give Elena Vesnina the confidence to go deep in this tournament in St Petersburg despite showing little in the way of Singles success to open 2017. Vesnina had a pretty poor record against Makarova and the same can be said against this opponent as Alize Cornet leads the head to head 5-2 and has won all four matches between the players on a hard court.

This is an indoor hard court, but Cornet seemed comfortable in the conditions in her own First Round win and the Frenchwoman did battle past Vesnina in her run to the Final in Brisbane. That was a close match that needed a final set tie-breaker to decide it, but it was Cornet's poor break point conversion compared with Vesnina's that made it a tighter match than it perhaps should have been.

I have little doubt this will be a competitive match too with both players dominating behind the serve in the First Round. The serve is going to be very important in the conditions with the first serve likely to set up plenty of short balls that both Cornet and Vesnina can put away.

I think Vesnina is a little stronger, but Cornet is the superior mover and that can extract some errors from the home favourite's racquet. It would be a surprise if either player can win this one in straight sets, but Cornet should hold the mental belief having won all four previous matches on this surface against Vesnina and holding a win over from earlier this season.

After a battle, I am looking for Cornet to come through 7-5, 4-6, 7-5.

Venus Williams - 2.5 games v Kristina Mladenovic: The one question that remains about Venus Williams is how much motivation she has coming out of the Australian Open where she was playing in the Final just a few days ago. I would have expected her to pull out of this event, but Venus arrived a couple of days after playing in the Final on Saturday and she has been made to feel very welcome in St Petersburg.

There seemed to be some genuine excitement in her eyes about making her debut at this event and I feel that we will get a proper performance from her. If that is the case, Venus Williams should be too good for Kristina Mladenovic who has just been too inconsistent over the last twelve months to improve the World Ranking as she should have done.

It has been a tough start in 2017 as Mladenovic had lost both matches played very comfortably before battling through a difficult First Round match. She will need to improve her consistency in this one if Mladenovic is going to be able to challenge Venus Williams who should find the conditions suitable for her serve to work to a high standard.

Mladenovic should also appreciate the ability to try and hit through the court, but Venus Williams will see plenty of errors coming from the other side of the net in this one too. If Venus can control her own, I am expecting her to find her way to a 6-4, 6-3 kind of win and a place in the Quarter Final on Friday.

Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 games v Donna Vekic: At the moment Donna Vekic might be better known for being Stan Wawrinka's girlfriend, but the 20 year old was once considered to have the ability to get to the top of the women's game. There is plenty of time for her to get things moving in a positive direction for her World Ranking, but Vekic needs to find some consistency in her performances.

She is taking advantage of a Lucky Loser spot in the draw this week but Vekic has taken some comfortable defeats to the likes of Daria Gavrilova and Caroline Wozniacki already in 2017 and her wins this week won't worry someone as good as Dominika Cibulkova can be. Vekic had a poor 4-16 record on the main Tour last season too and she can just have some difficulties in staying with some of the better players she has met in that time.

However Vekic may feel she can have some chances against Cibulkova who doesn't possess the biggest serve and so there should be an opportunity to get into those games and perhaps find some break points. This is also the first match Cibulkova is playing here in 2017 and that is compared to the four that Vekic has played meaning a familiarity with the conditions might also see the Croatian settle a little better.

In saying that, Cibulkova seems to like playing indoors with a very solid 15-3 record on the indoor hard courts including reaching the Quarter Final here. Cibulkova won two titles on the indoor hard courts and she was 9-4 covering this number in matches that were played before the WTA Finals which was another tournament Cibulkova ended up winning.

I think this could be a difficult match for Cibulkova if she is not focused, but I do expect the Slovakian to work as hard as usual and that should wear down Vekic. They are 1-1 in their head to head match ups with Vekic winning the most recent, but I think Cibulkova gets the better of her after feeling her way into the conditions and comes away with a 7-5, 6-3 win.

MY PICKS: Alize Cornet @ 2.00 Coral (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-5, - 2.94 Units (18 Units Staked, - 16.33% Yield)

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