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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Monte Carlo Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (April 19th)

The First Round matches were completed on Tuesday in Monte Carlo and that means the majority of the biggest names in the draw will begin on Wednesday having received a bye through to the Second Round.

For many of those big names, this is the first match they will have played on the clay courts in 2017 and we saw the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic struggle considerably on Tuesday. Tsonga could not escape the upset, but Djokovic was able to come through in three sets and it does make a number of the matches on Wednesday a little more difficult to call.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 games v Karen Khachanov: It was a fairly comfortable win for Karen Khachanov in the First Round against Nicolas Mahut, but that was expected by most and this is a significant tick upwards in terms of a challenge. Instead of facing a player uncomfortable on the clay courts, the young Russian is facing Pablo Carreno Busta who is looking to put a career best year on the board in 2017.

Things have looked good for Carreno Busta so far this season and the improved confidence coupled with the quality he brings has meant the Spaniard has shown mental strength at difficult times. That helped Carreno Busta in coming through against Fabio Fognini in the First Round and is the kind of win that can spark a really strong European clay court season for someone who is very happy on this surface.

There is a real chance that Carreno Busta will be making a significant move in the World Rankings from his current Number 19 spot as he has fewer points to defend over the next few weeks than you may imagine. He won a few matches on the clay at this time of the season in 2016, but he is playing much more confidently now and I think he will have a little too much know-how for Khachanov in this Second Round encounter.

The Russian has some strong results on the clay courts over the last twelve months and he is clearly someone who is comfortable on the surface. However he is still developing his game and I am looking for Carreno Busta to be a little too steady at the important times in this one to earn the edge in the two sets they are likely to compete.

Khachanov has a bright future, but on this day I am looking for Carreno Busta to come through with a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 games v Carlos Berlocq: Despite coming through the Qualifiers and being accustomed to the conditions in Monte Carlo, Carlos Berlocq made hard work of Lucky Loser Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the First Round. I should say it was initially hard work before Berlocq was able to take control of the match, although he will have to be better when he takes on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the Second Round.

Both players had a disappointing time in Marrakech last week with relatively early exits and both losses were unexpected. Berlocq winning three matches here will improve his confidence after that loss in Marrakech, but Ramos-Vinolas was a fairly comfortable winner in the First Round too and won't be lacking belief.

There is no doubt that both Berlocq and Ramos-Vinolas are going to be very happy on the clay courts and their seven previous matches have all been played on the surface. While Berlocq has the winning record, it is the Spaniard who has won three of the last four although they will be playing one another for the first time since 2014.

Ramos-Vinolas has improved in that time since they have last met, while Berlocq looks to be on the slide in his career and I think that gives the former the advantage in this Second Round match. He will be given some problems by Berlocq who has the kind of irritating game that can put his opponents off their own and I expect he will have his break point chances.

This could easily take three sets to separate the players, but I think Ramos-Vinolas is able to battle through with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over the course of a couple of hours.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: While it looked to be a little easier for Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in coming through his First Round match compared with Roberto Bautista Agut, I still anticipated the latter to be asked to cover at least one more game than this.

Both players are very comfortable on the clay courts and Schwartzman has shown he can be a dangerous player on the surface. He doesn't have the big game that will impress on the eyeball test, but Schwartzman is consistent and has the movement to extract errors from his opponents.

That might be more difficult in this match up against Bautista Agut who bases his performance on limiting the mistakes he makes. It has all the makings of a long and drawn out match, but I do think Bautista Agut has perhaps a little more pop off the first serve and he has shown he can compete with the very best players on the Tour and should have too much for someone like Schwartzman.

When two players have a similar kind of game, I do favour the player who has shown the tougher mental strength as well as the ability to continue playing that game for the longest time. I expect that will be Bautista Agut in this case and I do think he can grind down Schwartzman over three sets.

Schwartzman has shown he is capable of hurting opponents when they are not at their full level of performance, but I do think the First Round win for Bautista Agut will have just cleared off some of the cobwebs. After a battle, I am looking for the Spaniard to win this one 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to move through to the next Round.

MY PICKS: Pablo Carreno Busta - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 9-1, + 14.94 Units (20 Units Staked, + 74.70% Yield)

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