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Saturday, 6 May 2017

Madrid Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (May 7th)

Last week was one when I knew I would not have the time to research the Tennis Picks as I was away for a few days enjoying some sun, but it was also a good time to have a break after a couple of solid enough weeks on the clay courts.

The next two weeks are huge for the players with back to back Masters events beginning in Madrid and ending in Rome in preparation for the French Open which begins on Sunday 28th May.

I will admit that I was not aware the Madrid Masters was beginning on Saturday this week rather than Sunday so the first of my Tennis Picks this week come from the WTA First Round matches that are to be played on Sunday as that event has already begun.


Maria Sharapova - 4.5 games v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni: I love drama in any sport I watch and we don't get enough personal distaste between players that can really ramp up a rivalry in tennis. That might have changed since Maria Sharapova's return to the Tour with a number of players voicing their concern about her receiving Wild Cards into events, but none went as far as Eugenie Bouchard who stated that Sharapova should have been given a life ban from tennis instead of being allowed to serve a suspension.

At one point Bouchard was a huge mark for Sharapova so those comments made headlines and now there is every chance these two players could meet in the Second Round in Madrid which would be 'must watch' TV. Bouchard has done her part by beating Alize Cornet, but Sharapova has a tough test in front of her against veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni who is enjoying a career year on the Tour.

Sharapova's return in Stuttgart went so well that she has been installed as second favourite to win the French Open title despite having no guarantee she will make the main draw there. Her previous form on the clay and the performances in Stuttgart certainly give Sharapova a great foundation on which to build and I am expecting her to be a little too good for Lucic-Baroni.

There is no doubt that Lucic-Baroni can play effectively on the clay courts, and she has already reached one Semi Final on the surface this season. She was a Finalist in Strasbourg last season and has played at a very good level for much of 2017 so I expect to see her pose some problems for Sharapova.

However I do think Sharapova was serving with real confidence in Stuttgart and she can put together a strong effort all around to come through 6-3, 6-4 in this one.


Caroline Wozniacki - 5.5 games v Monica Niculescu: Another player who has been one of the leading voices opposing Maria Sharapova's current return to the Tour is Caroline Wozniacki. She begins her bid for the title in Madrid with a match against Monica Niculescu who has lost all seven times against the former World Number 1 and I do think Wozniacki can secure another strong win against the Romanian.

This is not a surface on which Niculescu has been able to play her best tennis with the slicing and dicing sitting up for the most part and allowing opponents to dictate play. Her serve is not a big weapon, and Caroline Wozniacki is able to do everything a little bit better than Niculescu which has seen her win six of their seven matches while covering this number.

Wozniacki isn't a great clay court player herself with a really poor record on the surface overall, but I think she appreciates this match up and has at least got some clay court tennis under her legs over the last couple of weeks.

There will be some chances to break serve for both players, but I think Wozniacki will just have that belief that she is going to get the better of this match up and that can be highlighted by the score. Wozniacki can win this one 6-3, 6-3 and move into the Second Round.


Samantha Stosur - 4.5 games v Sara Sorribes Tormo: We will get to see how much Sara Sorribes Tormo has improved over the last twelve months when she gets to take on Samantha Stosur for a second season in a row in Madrid. Last season it was the Australian who was a convincing winner, but Stosur has been a little unconvincing in the last several months and her performances on the clay courts have been underwhelming.

However this is a surface on which Stosur has produced plenty of wins in recent seasons and she had a strong run at the French Open last season too. Her serve does give her a chance to control the rallies, although Stosur has lost some of her consistency.

On the other hand, Sorribes Tormo has yet to find her feet on the main Tour and that has seen the inconsistencies of reaching a Semi Final in Bogota followed by losses in three of four matches on the clay. The Spaniard is very comfortable on the surface but she is yet to really kick on in main Tournament draws and I think it will be a match that Stosur is able to get the better of at key moments.

This year I do think Sorribes Tormo will win a few more games, but Stosur will ultimately prove a little better with a 6-3, 6-4 win.


Carla Suarez Navarro - 3.5 games v Shuai Peng: Injuries and a loss of form has seen Carla Suarez Navarro slip down the World Rankings, but a return to the clay courts is expected to be a time of the season when the Spaniard thrives. She has a chance to get her Madrid tournament off to a strong start when facing Shuai Peng who is not at her best on the clay.

Peng does have the lead in the head to head, but these players haven't played one another since 2008 and all of those matches were on the hard courts. This is also the first clay court match of the season for Peng who had to pull out of her last tournament with an injury and she is just 2-8 in her last ten matches on the surface.

The inconsistencies from Suarez Navarro will give Peng a chance, while the Spaniard does not have a serve that will prevent Peng from having chances to create break points. However I do think Suarez Navarro will create chances of her own and she should be the much happier player on the clay courts even if 2017 has been subpar to this point.

I am expecting breaks of serve for both players, but it will come down to the confidence the two players have on court. Suarez Navarro will believe in her game on the clay, while Peng has struggled to produce her best over the last few tournaments on the surface and I think that comes out in the breakdown of this match.

After those breaks, I think Suarez can come through with a 6-4, 7-5 win.

MY PICKS: Maria Sharapova - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)

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