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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (April 12th)

It has been a few weeks since I last made any Tennis Picks and that was thanks to some awful luck through the Indian Wells tournament which had just frustrated me too far.

The final straw that week was Karolina Pliskova leading 7-6, 5-2 and serving for the match against Garbine Muguruza when I had backed the Czech player to cover a 2.5 game handicap. She was broken not once, but twice serving for the match and eventually took it in a tie-breaker to win 7-6, 7-6, but missed the cover by one game.

That wasn't the only occasion in which the player I had backed had two or three chances to serve out a match, and a cover of the handicap, before falling apart with another notable player being Tomas Berdych that week.

I was fed up and being unproductive which is why I made the decision to avoid making picks from the remaining days at the Indian Wells Masters as well as the then upcoming Miami Masters. That breaks was a necessity in a long season and I am hoping the time off and move onto the clay court season can just reset 2017 which had begun positively before a run of picking players who would get into a winning position before blowing their opportunities.

It was a really tough time, but I am hoping that I can begin to turn this season back around in the coming weeks heading into the French Open and then into the grass court portion of the season. I haven't made any picks so far this week as the tournaments being played as a little under the radar in terms of the fields they have been able to gather, but the events should pick up as we head into the middle of the week.

There are some big events coming up in the last two weeks of April and then two Masters events in May prior to the French Open which begins on Sunday 28th May.

Jiri Vesely - 2.5 games v Nicoloz Basilashvili: It has been a few weeks since either Jiri Vesely or Nicoloz Basilashvili have played a competitive match after relatively early defeats in Miami and no Davis Cup action between that event and this one.

Both are making the move onto the clay courts in Marrakech and this should be a time of the season when both Vesely and Basilashvili are able to produce some of their better tennis. These players had their best results on the clay courts last season, although Basilashvili showed some form on the indoor hard courts back in February.

That is because Basilashvili is a player that will go for his winners anywhere on the court and when he is on his best form he can penetrate the defences of any opponent he faces on the faster surfaces. It isn't the best way to approach a clay court match, but Basilashvili will believe he can hit through Vesely who is not the best defensive player on the Tour.

However I do think Vesely can earn the edge in this match having had a couple of really good runs in this tournament in the past. He has reached the Semi Final here in Marrakech last season and did the same in Casablanca the year before that and Vesely has won 24 of his 58 Tour wins between 2014 and 2016 on clay courts.

The Czech player is inconsistent which makes it hard to trust him fully while Vesely hasn't been in the best form in 2017. Even with that in mind, I do think he is the superior clay court player between himself and Basilashvili and the key is the enjoyment he has had in the conditions in Morocco in the last couple of years can perhaps make Vesely feel a little more comfortable and pull the win and cover.

Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 games v Malek Jaziri: The last fifteen months have been tough on Jeremy Chardy who has struggled to find the consistency on the Tour that his talent should be giving him. He has made a poor start to the 2017 season but the last month might have seen Chardy turn a corner and bring in some momentum to take into the clay court season.

He reached the Third Round in Miami following a Quarter Final run in a Challenger in North America, but it is the two Davis Cup wins Jeremy Chardy produced for France against Daniel Evans and Kyle Edmund that could be most telling. Both of those came in straight sets on the clay courts as he helped France move into the Davis Cup Semi Final and Chardy has shown some solid form on this surface through his career.

The same can't be said for Malek Jaziri who should receive plenty of support in Morocco as he represents another North African nation in Tunisia. His performances in the two Masters events in North America were impressive, but he has not been able to produce his best tennis on the clay courts during his career and Jaziri did lose all three previous matches played in Casablanca.

Maybe the tournament moving to Marrakech can change his fortunes, but I think Jaziri is running into Chardy at the wrong time and I do think the Frenchman can continue his fine form from the Davis Cup in this First Round match. Jaziri did reach the Quarter Final in Barcelona in his first clay court event last year so has to be given his respect, but Chardy should be too strong for him and move into the Second Round with a 6-4, 6-4 kind of margin of victory behind him.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Oceane Dodin: One of the younger players on the WTA Tour who should have a very bright future in the sport is Oceane Dodin, but the Frenchwoman has just struggled for consistency in 2017. Dodin is playing in her ninth tournament in 2017, but this is only the fourth event in which she has secured a win having dismissed the challenge of Su-Wei Hsieh in the First Round.

The level of opponent Dodin is facing goes up significantly in the Second Round though as she faces Julia Goerges who is moving back up the World Rankings having produced some strong runs in a number of tournaments in 2017. The German is about to enter what should be a positive period of the season for her when the clay courts begin, but Goerges is very comfortable on the indoor hard courts too.

Inconsistency from the baseline has always been an issue for Goerges, but when she is flowing she hits the ball very hard and can blow past opponents. She will need to be at her best because Dodin is someone who can serve well and put plenty of pressure on her opponents and Goerges can't afford to play too many loose return games and give Dodin the confidence to earn the upset.

Dodin has just had a few issues staying with players once she falls behind and she has been beaten eight times this season with six of those losses coming by a margin that would see her fail to stay within the number in this Second Round match. The inconsistencies I have mentioned about Goerges has shown up by her tendency to go through lulls in matches which prevents her covering this number of games too often.

However I think Goerges can prove to be a little too effective for Dodin on current form and I will look for her to come through a tough match with a 7-5, 6-4 win.

MY PICKS: Jiri Vesely - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

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