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Monday, 8 May 2017

Madrid Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (May 8th)

Sunday proved to be a good start for the tennis picks from the Madrid Masters and I am looking to back that up with another solid showing on Monday. The ATP event really gets going on Monday with a number of First Round matches scheduled to be played, while there is a big grudge match on the WTA side of the draw when Eugenie Bouchard takes on Maria Sharapova.

A lot of eyes will be on that match after Bouchard stated Sharapova should have been banned for life from tennis after failing a drugs test, especially with those comments made just last week. Don't for a minute think Sharapova hasn't been asked about that on multiple occasions and I am looking forward to seeing how both players respond to the added interest in what is actually only a Second Round match in Madrid.

Grigor Dimitrov - 1.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: The last few weeks have been tough for Grigor Dimitrov who has regressed from the earlier form he has shown in 2017. For those who thought Dimitrov had turned a corner in his career, the last few weeks will be more head scratching as he has struggled to turn matches into wins.

This is a very tough opening match for Dimitrov in Madrid against the veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber who is very comfortable on the clay courts. However it has been clear with some of the results Kohlschreiber has produced that the German is now on the back end of his career and he has lost some of the consistency that made him a tough out for the best players on the Tour.

Kohlschreiber does have more wins on the board in recent weeks than Dimitrov which means he should have a little more confidence, but I think the Bulgarian should be winning matches like this at this stage of their respective careers. I know Kohlschreiber reached the Final in Marrakech last month, but he has not exactly been firing on all cylinders and I think Dimitrov can outlast him in this one.

It will come down to whether Dimitrov can just hold himself together mentally at a couple of key moments in the match. If he can, I would expect Dimitrov to just get the better of Kohlschreiber over three sets and win this one 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Robin Haase - 2.5 games v Daniel Evans: No one can really trust Robin Haase with a lot of confidence, but I am going to be looking to oppose Daniel Evans on the clay court where possible. I do think the Dutchman is the better clay court player of the two here, but Haase needs to keep himself together mentally against an opponent whose temperament can put others off.

Haase hasn't had a lot of success on the clay court in 2017, but he is someone who has produced some solid results on the surface throughout his career. This is clearly the surface that he favours the most and Haase is in a better place on the clay courts than Evans who has made his distaste for this portion of the season clear to anyone who listens.

That could prove to be a difference maker when it comes to the key moments of this match. I would expect the Haase serve to also be the stronger of the two on display and it is that level of comfort I have mentioned which is likely to separate these players on the day.

I will be looking for Haase to come through this First Round match with a 7-6, 6-4 win to move through to the Second Round.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Denis Istomin: Tomas Berdych is a player that has clearly regressed on the Tour over the last twelve months and at his age it is tough to turn around the affects of Father Time. I am not anticipating Berdych to recover his performances to the level he had a couple of years ago and that has seen him drop sets in some really poor ways over the course of the entire year.

That regression and lack of trust means Berdych is not a player I would be expecting to cover this kind of number of games too often in best of three matches going forward. However I do think he should be superior enough to cover on this occasion when he faces Qualifier Denis Istomin who is not at his best on the clay courts.

Istomin also has lost all five previous matches against Berdych which means the Czech player will have the mental edge in this First Round match including when beating Istomin here in Madrid last year. The win over Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open seems a long time ago for Istomin now and he had been in poor form before winning a couple of Qualifiers here.

I do think Istomin can cause some problems for Berdych if he brings his best service games into this match. However I also believe Berdych is going to have the better serving statistics at the end of this one and that should be good enough for him to force his way to a 7-5, 6-3 win and a place in the Second Round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: There has been a lot more clay court tennis played by Andrey Kuznetsov compared with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over the last month and that should make the Qualifier a danger in this one. Kuznetsov has won plenty of matches in that time and now faces Tsonga who has had a huge change in his personal life with the arrival of a new child.

That has helped some players really focus and produce some of their best tennis in recent seasons, but Tsonga was beaten easily in Monte Carlo and has not played a competitive match since then.

However I do think Tsonga will have had the time to return his mind to on court issues and I am expecting the Frenchman to be able to produce some of his best tennis in this one. He had a very good run earlier in 2017 and I do think Tsonga is a capable clay court player with the extra time he tends to get on the surface.

No one will be expecting Kuznetsov to roll over in this one although his issue is that he is likely to throw in a couple of sloppy service games. That isn't a big detriment on the clay courts, but it will be if Tsonga is able to play somewhere close to his best level and I think it will be difficult for Kuznetsov over the course of the match.

After a difficult start, I am looking for Tsonga to start powering away and helping himself to a 7-6, 6-3 win.

Kristina Mladenovic - 3.5 games v Lauren Davis: There was a little bit of fortune behind Kristina Mladenovic's win over Ana Konjuh in the First Round here, but she can back that up with a win over Lauren Davis. Unlike Davis, Mladenovic had a week to prepare for this tournament after reaching the Final in Stuttgart and that should mean she is perhaps feeling strong enough to go deep into the tournament here.

On the other hand Davis was playing in a tournament in Istanbul last week and reached the Quarter Final before beating Monica Puig in three tight sets in the First Round. The problem Davis has had in the past against Mladenovic is being able to deal with the power the Frenchwoman brings onto the court, especially from the service line.

The energy that Davis plays with means she can give Mladenovic some issues on the return, but her own serve is going to be attacked constantly and it is tough to deal with that. With the extra time on the clay court, Mladenovic should be able to hit through the court and put Davis on the defence for much of the match.

At times Mladenovic will make mistakes, but for the most part I am expecting her to have success doing that against the American who has not been at her best on the clay. The Davis serve will likely be attacked throughout the match and I can see Mladenovic break the serve a number of times which should eventually lead to a comfortable looking scoreline in the match.

Kristina Mladenovic can win this match 7-5, 6-3 after a battle with Davis.

Maria Sharapova - 5.5 games v Eugenie Bouchard: This is the match that most will be looking forward to on Monday as Maria Sharapova gets to face Eugenie Bouchard who was calling for a life ban for the Russian just last week.

Tensions will certainly come to the fore and I expect some frostiness between the two competitors, while I also think both Sharapova and Bouchard will be desperate to win this match.

Desperation should lead to a really focused Sharapova and she is a dangerous player when she is really looking to turn the screw on an opponent. Her form on her return has also been pretty impressive and certainly more than what Bouchard has been showing on the Tour and I think that is going to be the real story of the match.

The Canadian beat Alize Cornet in the First Round, but she had lost six straight matches prior to that and is going to be under pressure from the heavy hitting Sharapova will bring to the court. The Sharapova serve was not working as well as it could have been in the first set on Sunday, but it has been in good shape over the matches since her return and her return game is certainly working effectively to the point of the Russian being set as the favourite to win the French Open.

I think Sharapova will be able to put Bouchard under some constant pressure on the return of serve and she has been hitting enough of her own marks to come through with a 6-4, 6-2 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Robin Haase - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kristina Mladenovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Madrid Update: 3-1, + 3.30 Units (12 Units Staked, + 27.5% Yield)

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