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Friday, 12 May 2017

Madrid Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (May 12th)

These two weeks in Madrid and Rome can be so important for players in their preparation for the French Open which begins at the end of the month although I will say that the conditions in Madrid are unique to the remainder of this European clay court swing.

In saying that, the Quarter Final line up in the ATP Masters event has the kind of names you would expect to reach the business end at the French Open and that gives players a chance to stake their claim to the second Grand Slam of the season. It can be important from a mental point of view if you can earn an edge over opponents you potentially will face in the Slams, although it does look like Rafael Nadal will be a pretty strong favourite to win another French Open title.

The women's event at Roland Garros looks so much more open than the men's event and there are a couple of the players who have reached the Semi Final here that will be expected to challenge for the title at the next Grand Slam. I really don't think any of the players heading into the French Open draw can be considered with real confidence at the moment, but the last couple of days here in Madrid and the next tournament in Rome is going to be huge to judge the kind of form the WTA players are producing ahead of the French Open.

The tournament in Madrid has been a difficult one for the picks and the worst one during the clay court swing so far. The next few days are important to try and get some momentum to take into Rome, but a strong end will just be pleasing from the point of view of getting something from this tournament.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Anastasija Sevastova: The last couple of times Anastasija Sevastova has played Simona Halep has not been a very pleasing experience for the Latvian and she will be hoping for an improvement on Friday. They have met on the clay courts in the last couple of matches against one another and Simona Halep has lost just four games in those two matches which is a remarkable achievement.

I have little doubt that Sevastova will be more competitive when they play in the Semi Final in Madrid, but those two heavy losses will play a part in this one at critical moments in the match. Sevastova has played well so far this week and this has been a positive month for her as she has improved her World Ranking to Number 26, but the losses have generally tended to be fairly straight-forward.

One of those came against Halep in Stuttgart although the latter has had to come through some tough moments here in Madrid. This match might be more comfortable for her from the aspect that Sevastova is not likely to be able to power her way through Halep and the longer the rallies go, the more you would expect Halep to win the point.

Both players will have their moments when it comes to picking up break points and earning games against the serve. However I do think Halep can produce more of both of those and that should lead to another win against this opponent.

At times it will be close and a couple of key games here and there will determine the outcome of the match. I am looking at Halep being on the right side of those moments and can win this one 6-3, 6-4 to move into the Final.

Novak Djokovic - 3.5 games v Kei Nishikori: Novak Djokovic has dominated his head to head matches with Kei Nishikori, but there is no doubt that the former World Number 1 is in a very vulnerable position at the moment. The confidence is no way near the level he had when dominating on the Tour and it has been almost 12 months since Djokovic was playing consistently at a very high level.

However he may be playing Nishikori at the right time with the Japanese star struggling with a wrist injury and only just returning to the Tour. Nishikori has won two matches here in Madrid and is a very capable clay court player, but that injury might just mean Djokovic has another edge in this Quarter Final.

I do think Nishikori's serve remains a vulnerable shot and Djokovic can take advantage of that, although it can be said that Djokovic's own serve has not been as effective as he would like. That is where Nishikori's own returning ability can come up trumps, but that wrist issue continues to stick out like a sore thumb and could prove to be a difference maker if Nishikori is not operating at full tilt.

Even when Djokovic is not at his best, this does feel like it will be a good match up for him and I think he will be good enough to secure a place in the Semi Final this weekend.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the match have some swings in momentum, but Djokovic should be able to come through and I will look for him to do enough to get over this number of games.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v David Goffin: The last time Rafael Nadal and David Goffin met was a controversial match in Monte Carlo which seemed to swing completely on a terrible umpire call against the Belgian player. While the match may have been a little more competitive without that poor call, I do think Nadal was beginning to exert the pressure on Goffin that likely would have reaped rewards anyway and I believe he will be comfortable with the match up.

Both players rely on their hard work around the court to break down opponents and both Nadal and Goffin are enjoying very strong seasons which look certain to end with a top eight finish in the World Rankings. The consistency they have shown is very impressive, but Nadal has a little more power in his game.

That should see the Spaniard being able to hit through the court a little more effectively, while Nadal will also believe that his 'King of Clay' moniker is back and that gives him a little more aura. Goffin is a very good player, but his serve can be attacked and he has to work so hard to win his points that it can be tough to do so against an opponent like Nadal who doesn't take a point off.

I can see this match having a similar feel as to when they played in Monte Carlo- Goffin can stay competitive for a while, but Nadal should begin to break him down physically and mentally and that can see the Spaniard win this match with a margin similar to Monte Carlo.

I don't think Goffin only wins four games this time, but I do think Nadal will eventually prevail with a 7-5, 6-2 win and I will look for him to cover this number.

Dominic Thiem - 3.5 games v Borna Coric: Borna Coric beat Andy Murray impressively in the Third Round and he has a win over Dominic Thiem when these two players met in Miami, but I am looking for the Austrian to earn revenge here. 

The loss in Miami would have hurt Thiem, but there is little doubt that his best performances at this moment in his career come on the clay courts. He will feel much more comfortable with that in mind and I do think Coric is perhaps a little over-rated in this one thanks to his win over Murray.

I do think Coric is going to be a very strong player on the Tour in the coming years, but he is inconsistent at the moment and took advantage of a Lucky Loser spot to move through the Madrid draw. He has won a title in Marrakech on clay courts back in April, but Coric had not been in great form heading into the tournament here and I am not sure confidence will be fully restored just yet.

Coric is a decent player that can cause problems for opponents when he is at his best, but I think Thiem is going to be able to put some big pressure on him. The Austrian has a decent serve for the surface and the extra time on the ball gives Thiem a chance to really hit through the court with his big swings off the ground and I think those make a difference for him in this Quarter Final.

Thiem will have to be careful because Coric has been competitive even in defeats in the last few weeks, but I think he can show his stronger clay court pedigree during the course of the match. There will be a couple of big service games for Thiem to get through where he faces multiple break points, but he is playing well enough to do that and produce a 7-5, 6-4 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)

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