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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (February 8th)

We are already in the middle of the week for the tournaments being played on the ATP Tour, although there are still plenty of matches to come through to Sunday when the Finals will be played. The Fed Cup also gets underway on Wednesday outside of the World Group as nations battle to get amongst the elite.

I was interested to note that Stan Wawrinka has pulled out of the big tournament in Rotterdam next week due to the knee injury that was obviously bothering him at the Australian Open. Hopefully that is only a precaution as Wawrinka doesn't have many points to defend before the event in Dubai at the end of the month where he won the title in 2016 and is expected to face a much tougher field this time around.

I hope that is the case because I would love to see a season without injuries affecting the chances of the top players like what happened in 2016, but I guess we will find out in a couple of weeks time when the Tour stops off in Dubai.

Tuesday was a decent start to the week with both Fernando Verdasco and Benoit Paire winning in straight sets (neither player has not been guilty for making life much tougher for themselves than they did on Tuesday). It is only a start and hopefully Wednesday can see the picks kick on and put some solid numbers to go on the board before the weekend.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert - 1.5 games v Calvin Hemery: There are a few players in the main draw in Montpellier who haven't much experience playing at this level and Calvin Hemery is one of them. He should receive some support from the crowd, but Hemery is trying to take advantage of winning two Qualifiers to take his place in the draw and will have to beat a compatriot who is much higher Ranked and also far more experienced.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert has clearly enjoyed the majority of his success on the tennis court on the Doubles circuit and he has made a difficult start to the Singles Tour in 2017. 2016 wasn't much better for him, but Herbert is used to playing on this stage compared with Hemery who will be playing just his fourth ever main Tour match.

The majority of matches Hemery has been playing has been at the Challenger level and he is ranked almost outside the top 300 in the World Rankings which highlights the kind of challenge this is for him. Hemery has to try and stay with Herbert early on and see if his compatriot is just lacking some confidence at key moments in the match, but I do think he might have some issues dealing with the serve Herbert does possess.

Being able to get to the net should mean Herbert puts the pressure on Hemery to consistently pass him which might be too much for the latter to deal with. I do think Hemery is capable of forcing a tie-breaker in one of the sets, but I think Herbert is going to be too good on the day and come through with a 7-6, 6-4 win.

Paul-Henri Mathieu - 1.5 games v Vincent Millot: Two players over the age of thirty years old will meet in Montpellier and the all-French clash should be one the fans enjoy. Paul-Henri Mathieu has had the more successful career of the two players, but he is also four years older than Vincent Millot who has a chance to enter the main draw as a Lucky Loser.

Both players recent reached the Quarter Final in a Challenger event in Rennes and both will believe their time at the very top level is short from here. The majority of time we will see Mathieu and Millot not being able to compete with the very best players and both of these players could have to play more Challenger events considering they are outside the top 100 in the World Rankings.

Mathieu has been on a terrible losing run before his wins in Rennes, although he will point out that he spends a lot more time competing against higher competition than Millot. There is a bit more about the Mathieu game, but he will have to take some time to get used to the lefty serve he will face, although Millot is not going to overwhelm too many people with his power and that gives Mathieu every chance to be involved in all of the rallies.

The consistency in the Mathieu game has gone these days, but he should still be able to hold himself together for long enough to win this match. He has beaten Millot in both previous matches including when they played last year and I think he will be too good on the day as I look for him to come through with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

Andreas Seppi v Damir Dzumhur: I have to say I was surprised to see Damir Dzumhur as the favourite to beat Andreas Seppi in the opening Round in Sofia, but I think there are a couple of factors that have influenced the price.

The first is that Seppi was in Davis Cup action in Argentina this past weekend and will have a long trip back to Bulgaria to get ready for this one. Changing surface and time zone is tough, so the Italian will be in for a challenge to compete. The second factor is that Davis Cup tie lasted until Monday after rain washed out Sunday's play which means Seppi would have arrived in Sofia on Tuesday and is going to have to be ready to head out onto court on Wednesday.

It has been factored into the price though and I think Seppi can upset the odds by winning this match as the underdog. I simply don't know how Dzumhur can reasonably be priced as a favourite to win this match barring Seppi being tired from the travelling and not readjusting to the European time zone meaning he is not at full tilt for this one.

Seppi has had the superior performances on the indoor hard courts in recent seasons compared with Dzumhur and I think he can beat the Bosnian over three sets in this one. It has to be said that 2017 has started much better for Seppi than it has for Dzumhur and he should be confident having helped Italy beat Argentina over the weekend. Moving from the clay to the hard courts shouldn't be an issue for Seppi and I do believe he is the better player in the contest and can show that in the match.

David Goffin - 5.5 games v Radu Albot: The Number 2 Seeded David Goffin received a bye in the First Round and will be making his first appearance in Sofia this week when he takes on Radu Albot for a place in the Quarter Final. He is a big favourite to get past Albot and I do think he can do that with a clear margin of victory.

A strong showing at the Australian Open will have given Goffin encouragement that he could have a big impact on the Tour in 2017 and perhaps reach the ATP World Tour Finals on merit rather than as an alternate. It should be noted that Goffin has looked at his most vulnerable when playing on indoor hard courts as players are aided in trying to break down his strong defensive work, but I am not sure Albot is the player to take advantage.

The Moldovan is a player that spends the large majority of his time on the Challenger circuit and he was the beneficiary of a very kind draw in the First Round that has seen move into this match. It hasn't been the start to 2017 for Albot to write home about and he is yet to meet someone as good as Goffin can be.

Tennis can expose levels and I do think Goffin is at least one, maybe two, levels above what Albot will bring to the table. I would expect Goffin to ease his way into the match and then start dominating the rallies that they compete against one another and he is not going to be overpowered by Albot. As long as Goffin is focused and ready for his opening match in Sofia, I would anticipate a 6-3, 6-3 kind of win to move through to the Quarter Final.

Victor Estrella Burgos - 4.5 games v Andrej Martin: It might be something of a surprise to see that Victor Estrella Burgos is a clear favourite in this match despite being lower in the World Rankings than Andrej Martin, but that has much to do with his solid performances in Quito in the past. This is the third year this tournament is running and Estrella Burgos has won both previous titles including beating Martin last year in the First Round here.

Neither player has opened up 2017 with too much positive momentum behind them and they will be hoping the tournament in Quito can get things going for them.

Martin should feel better being back on the clay courts where he has enjoyed the majority of his success so far in his career. It should be noted that the Slovakian reached the Third Round at the French Open after coming through the Qualifiers and also reached the Final in Umag on the clay, although the majority of Martin's time is spent at the Challenger level.

It does seem that Estrella Burgos brings his best tennis to the court in Quito because he doesn't have too many impressive runs outside of that event in the last twelve months. The defending Champion is another who spends the majority of his time at the Challenger level but has not been able to produce the wins that he has in the altitude of Quito and clearly enjoys the conditions.

There will be some swings in momentum in this First Round match, but I do think Estrella Burgos can get the better of Martin in a similar fashion as to when they met here last season. I do anticipate Martin will get a couple more games on the board, but I am looking for Estrella Burgos to come through with a 6-4, 6-3 win and a place in the Second Round.

MY PICKS: Pierre-Hugues Herbert - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Paul-Henri Mathieu - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Andreas Seppi @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Goffin - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Victor Estrella Burgos - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-0, + 3.64 Units (4 Units Staked, + 91% Yield)

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