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Friday, 28 April 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (April 28th)

The tournaments this week have reached the Quarter Final stage and there have been some big upsets in the events being played. I am not sure why that has been the case, but you do get these weeks when some players overachieve and others are not able to produce their best so you just have to take it for what it is and move on.

Reaching the Quarter Final of events means there are not as many matches taking place through the day, although there do look to be a few options when it comes to the tennis picks. My focus is on the ATP Barcelona and WTA Stuttgart events and my picks come from those two tournaments.

Dominic Thiem - 5.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: I might be making a mistake in opposing Yuichi Sugita on a second day in a row after seeing him upset Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday. For a player that had no previous success on the clay courts, Sugita's run through the draw has been very surprising, but I am looking for Dominic Thiem to be too good for him on the day and that to show up on the scoreboard.

All credit has to be given to Sugita as he has managed to hold onto his own service games far more effectively than I would have imagined on Thursday. An early hold after facing two break points changed the momentum of the match and I think that was important for Sugita, but another strong serving day could see him surprise Thiem who is one of the better clay court players on the Tour.

Thiem has played well this week in seeing off a couple of British players in his two matches and I do think the Austrian can be a real threat at the French Open. He has had more rest heading into this tournament than he is perhaps used to and that can see him really build up his form heading into Roland Garros over the next month and I do think he has enough about his game to find his way to break points in this one.

The manner of the way Thiem plays does mean he will give up some chances to Sugita in this one and I wouldn't be surprised if the latter is able to break the serve unlike Kyle Edmund and Daniel Evans who missed their break point opportunities. However I am not going to be sold on Sugita being able to maintain the level he has played at so far this week and I am looking for Thiem's heavy groundstrokes and ability to get up to the net to force mistakes from Sugita.

It is a big number when you think of the way Sugita has been playing, but I am going to back Thiem at odds against to do that in the same way I did back Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday and was on the wrong side.

Maria Sharapova - 4.5 games v Anett Kontaveit: So far so good for Maria Sharapova on her return to the Tour when lesser players might have been worried about what people think of her. Mentally Maria Sharapova has always been amongst the best on the Tour and the last fifteen months seems to have strengthened her resolve to return to the Tour and she really couldn't care less what other players think of her.

She has produced a couple of really solid wins so far this week and now will be out on the court for a third competitive match in three consecutive days. Wins over Roberta Vinci and Ekaterina Makarova have seen Sharapova produce some strong tennis at key moments and then she has taken control of the match to pull away with a relatively straight-forward win.

Things could be tougher on Friday in this Quarter Final when Sharapova takes on Anett Kontaveit who has beaten Garbine Muguruza already here this week and won a number of matches to come through the Qualifiers and main draw into the Quarter Final. This tournament comes after reaching the Final in Biel two weeks ago and Kontaveit is clearly playing with some confidence.

However she doesn't have a lot of previous success on the clay courts and at 21 years old she could easily be someone who would have looked up to Sharapova. Facing her for the first time can be really difficult mentally and I do wonder if that can be a factor in the outcome.

The Sharapova serve has been a key shot for her all week and I think Sharapova will be getting more and more confident with the draw opening up for her. Imagine if she goes on and wins the title after a fifteen month lay off- that could see Sharapova arguably move to the head of the queue when it comes to market favouritism for the clay court events coming up.

I have to stick with Sharapova having backed her twice already this week and seen her cover this number. If Kontaveit is perhaps a little overawed early, she may allow Sharapova to move away and that can see the Russian to come through with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

Laura Siegemund + 3.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: Over the course of a season, Karolina Pliskova is clearly going to win a lot more matches at this level than Laura Siegemund. On most surfaces I would expect Pliskova to cover this number against the German, but the clay courts may be the great equaliser and this could be enough games for the home favourite to keep this competitive.

In fact I think there is a chance that Siegemund is going to have enough to perhaps even earn an upset outright with her best results produced on the clay courts throughout her career. She made her breakthrough on the main Tour by reaching the Final here in Stuttgart last season during a run where Siegemund came through the Qualifiers and beat the likes of Simona Halep and Agneiszka Radwanska before finding Angelique Kerber too tough in the Final.

That run sparked a good time for Siegemund on the clay with a decent run in Madrid before reaching the Semi Final in Bucharest and winning the title in Bastad. Only a poor showing at the French Open might have been a disappointment, but Siegemund looks like 2017 is finally getting going now she is back on clay after a poor first three months.

Her opponent has had some good runs on the clay courts in the past, but Pliskova is a little more inconsistent on the surface because I think her movement is not the best. That is what Siegemund has to expose and she has to try and make plenty of balls back off the powerful Pliskova serve to force the higher Ranked player to not feel she is completely in control of the match.

I do think Siegemund is a decent enough clay court player to cause problems for Pliskova and she could sneak a set which will make this number of games very tough for the latter to cover. A good start by the home player is key to make Pliskova feel in an uncomfortable match and doing that will give her a chance to at least cover and possibly secure the upset.

Simona Halep - 5.5 games v Anastasija Sevastova: The head to head might read 3-2 in favour of Anastasija Sevastova, but there are going to be some mental demons to exorcise in this one having been beaten 6-0, 6-0 by Simona Halep when they last played one another in the Final in Bucharest last season.

It would be a huge surprise if this Quarter Final sees Sevastova fail to win a game, but I do think Simona Halep has played well over the last week and looks to be in decent form. 2017 has been an inconsistent season so far for Halep, but she might be going into the French Open as one of the favourites to win that Grand Slam event and I do think she is one of the better clay court players on the Tour.

Halep will always be challenged on the surface because her serve is not one of the better ones when she is feeling nervous, but it also shows off her returning skills and I think there will be some quality rallies played by these two players. Sevastova is a decent player and showed that in her win over Johanna Konta, but Halep is much more comfortable on the clay courts than Konta and I expect that to show up here.

The key for Halep to cover this handicap is to make sure she can save a few of the break points she is going to face. If Sevastova is clinical with the chances she creates, then it will be very difficult for Halep, but I do think the Romanian will earn plenty of break points of her own.

After a tough first set, I think Halep can take control of the match and move into the Semi Final behind a 6-4, 6-2 win.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Laura Siegemund + 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-8, - 5.10 Units (28 Units Staked, - 18.21% Yield)

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