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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Madrid Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (May 10th)

The last couple of days have been disappointing for the picks here in Madrid, but I think I know where I am potentially going a little wrong.

The tournament in Madrid is played on one of the faster clay courts during this swing towards the French Open and that means you can get a few surprise results. That is especially early in the week and the same might occur in Rome with the shift in conditions next week, but I am looking for a much better Wednesday compared with the last two days.

There are a lot of matches to come on Wednesday as the ATP Masters Second Round is completed and the WTA Premier Event Third Round is also rounded off.

Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 games v Qiang Wang: This has already been a very successful week for Qiang Wang having come through the Qualifiers before winning two main draw matches. Wang won a title on the Tour just last month and she is a player that is definitely improving and likely to be in a position to get an automatic place in these Premier Events going forward thanks to an improving World Ranking.

Playing on the clay courts is going to be the next step in the development for Wang who has not had a lot of success on the surface prior to this week. She was beaten in Prague last week by Camila Giorgi but Wang might be taking on her toughest challenge on the surface when she faces Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Russian is a former French Open Champion so clearly Kuznetsova has plenty of pedigree on the clay courts, and she has produced some strong results on the surface throughout her career. Some of the consistency has gone from the Kuznetsova game, but her peak levels can see her challenge the very best players on the Tour although maintaining that throughout a match has not really been something she has shown she can do.

That could present a danger against Wang who is playing with a great deal of confidence at the moment and it does make this a potential banana skin match. However Kuznetsova reached the Final here in Madrid last season and has two solid wins under her belt here and I can see her clay court experience helping her to a fairly routine win when the result goes down in the books.

After a number of breaks of serve, I can see Kuznetsova take control of the match in the middle of this one and come through with a 6-4, 6-3 win.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Nicolas Almagro: One of the most interesting developments in tennis which may have flown under the radar behind the Maria Sharapova return was Novak Djokovic's decision to make wholesale changes to his team. In the same breath Djokovic admitted that he has been struggling for the 'spark' that has made him such a success in recent seasons.

It has been described as a move which should give himself 'shock therapy' and the rumours are that Djokovic is set to turn to Andre Agassi to help him refocus. For now though, Djokovic will be playing without the team that helped him achieve all his goals and I think there are some questions as to how he will respond.

A couple of years ago a match against Nicolas Almagro on the clay courts would have been a hugely dangerous one for Djokovic in his current state of mind. However the Spaniard has slipped as he has struggled for the consistency that made him such a threat and Almagro can lose his way considerably these days.

I do think this match will be close at times and I am not sure Djokovic is not going to have to battle through some tough games on his own serve. However he can exert enough pressure on Almagro to start seeing the latter break down and I am expecting this to be a match that Djokovic can control for the most part.

All eyes will be on the former World Number 1 to see his state of mind after the break up with his team, but I think he passes this first test and can win the match 7-5, 6-3.

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga - 3.5 games v David Ferrer: This is one match that I would have favoured David Ferrer to win a couple of years ago on the clay courts, but things have changed in 2017. Now Ferrer has lost something about his game and I can only see the Spaniard slipping further and further in what has been a truly exceptional career.

The speed of the court won't help Ferrer when he takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who had to battle through his First Round match. That does raise some doubts as to the level Tsonga is currently operating at, but he is taking on an opponent who has had a number of surprise losses as he continues to be rated at a level that he simply doesn't reach enough these days.

Since the Australian Open, David Ferrer has lost to the likes of Carlos Berlocq, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Kevin Anderson with three of those losses coming on clay courts. I would have backed Ferrer to wear down all of those opponents in the past, but it just highlights where his game is these days.

If Tsonga had more matches under his belt he would be a bigger favourite, but I still think the win in the First Round will have done him good. The serve will be important for the Frenchman and producing the goods there will be putting Ferrer under immense pressure and he hasn't the consistency to play his usual brand of tennis which can allow Tsonga to thrive in this one.

I can see Tsonga just having a little too much in both sets and coming through with a 6-4, 6-4 win in this one.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Fabio Fognini: I can remember a couple of years ago when Rafael Nadal was finding Fabio Fognini a real test including on the clay courts. It came at a time when Nadal was struggling on all surfaces to really lay down his quality, but 2017 has seen a resurgence from the Spaniard who will be going into the French Open as the favourite to win another title there.

That has been backed up by his performances over the last month which has seen Nadal win the titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and most people will be picking him to pick up more in Madrid, Rome and eventually in Paris before the move to the grass courts.

The only concern in backing Nadal to cover this number is the fact that he is playing his first match in Madrid but the Spaniard has proved he can produce a lot of wins here through his career. He hasn't won the title here since 2014 having lost in the Final and Semi Final in the last two years to Andy Murray both times, but Nadal is playing with a new level of confidence.

The enigma that is Fabio Fognini can be hard to dismiss out of hand and he certainly gets up for a match like this one, but he was beaten easily by Nadal at the Miami Masters. Since then Fognini has struggled back on the clay courts and I am not sure he has the consistency or belief at this point of his career to match an in-form Nadal who is putting opponents under serious pressure and watching them crack.

It could have a similar feel as to when these two met in Miami and Nadal can cover this number on his way to the Third Round.

Marin Cilic v Alexander Zverev: This looks a very good match on paper and a tough one for both Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev when you think it has been put together in the Second Round. Confidence won't be lacking on either side of the court as both Zverev and Cilic have won a title in Munich and Istanbul respectively just a few days ago.

The young German backed up that title success by seeing off veteran Fernando Verdasco in the First Round but I think the extra rest for Cilic could be important. There are still some questions as to how good Zverev is on the clay courts at this point of his career and he has suffered a couple of heavy losses on the clay over the last month.

Cilic is a very capable player on the surface, although he has not had the consistent season he would have been hoping for to this point. Early losses in Indian Wells and Miami were huge disappointments for Cilic, but his performances back on the clay will have increased his confidence.

He has lost his last two matches against Zverev which may give the latter the mental edge in the contest, but I think Cilic might be the superior clay court player at this point. The layers can't separate them and have set the match as a pick 'em contest, but I like Cilic and I think he can battle through this tough match by showing a little more ability and reserves in the gas tank at critical times.

Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 games v Benoit Paire: One of the things you can almost be certain of is that Benoit Paire will usually crumble under some exerted pressure, but the Frenchman dug deep to see off Pablo Carreno Busta in the First Round. He saved 9/10 break points during the match which is not something I would expect from Paire, but he will need to be even better when he faces Stan Wawrinka.

The head to head is heavily in favour of Wawrinka and I think that does play a part in this match. This is the first time Wawrinka is back on court since his early loss in Monte Carlo and he can start off slowly in tournaments, but that is where his strong record against Paire may help the Swiss player settle more quickly than usual.

A problem for Paire supporters is the way their man can suddenly go completely off the boil and make poor shot selections and give up serve. While he has some solid tennis ability, Paire is someone that the top players know they can put under immense mental pressure and that will usually be enough to see him break down.

Paire is a player that won four games against Philipp Kohlschreiber in Marrakech, five games against Haas in Monte Carlo and five games against Nicolas Almagro last week in Estoril. I will credit him for the way he played against Pablo Carreno Busta, but backing that up is going to be difficult for Paire and I think Stan Wawrinka will be too good for him on the day.

Stan Wawrinka has covered this number in six of his seven previous wins against Paire and I will be looking for him to do the same in this Second Round match.

MY PICKS: Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marin Cilic @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Madrid Update: 7-8, - 3.24 Units (30 Units Staked, - 10.80% Yield)

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