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Thursday, 8 June 2017

French Open Tennis Day 13 Picks 2017 (June 9th)

By the time people in the United Kingdom wake up for Day 13 of the French Open Tennis tournament they will know who is going to be governing the country in the coming years.

Once that has sunk in, tennis fans from the UK will be turning their attention to Andy Murray's Semi Final match against Stan Wawrinka as those two players meet for the second season in succession in the French Open Semi Finals.

That looks a very good match on paper, but the second Semi Final may be even better when Rafael Nadal takes on Dominic Thiem for what feels like their weekly battle over the last few weeks on the clay courts.

The Day 12 Tennis Picks ended up 1-1 as Jelena Ostapenko earned the upset, but Simona Halep won a match in which she was unable to cover.

The Final on Saturday looks like it may be a very good one if Ostapenko continues hitting the ball as well as she has been, although Halep has the consistency and defensive work on the ground that can bamboozle anyone.

For now I am concentrating on the two men's Semi Final matches which are played on Friday afternoon in the improving Paris weather.

Andy Murray-Stan Wawrinka over 40.5 total games: This is the second French Open in a row that Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are going to meet for a chance to play in the French Open Final on Sunday. In 2016 Murray came in as a narrow favourite to beat Wawrinka but the prices have been flipped the other way around this time.

I can see why that has happened as Wawrinka has yet to drop a set here in Paris and demolished Marin Cilic for the loss of just seven games in the Quarter Final. The Swiss player also won the title in Geneva a few days before the French Open began which will have grabbed the attention of the oddsmakers.

On the other hand Murray has had a couple of difficult moments through this tournament as he has needed four sets to come through three different Rounds and twice has dropped the first set. With his poor form prior to the French Open, you can put the factors together to figure out why Wawrinka comes into this one as the narrow favourite.

In the hours after this match had been put together, I was leaning towards Wawrinka to win the match and I am sure many will back him to do so. Before last year's loss in the Semi Final, Wawrinka had beaten Murray in three consecutive matches and he had also won all three previous matches on the clay courts, but now it is Murray who has won the last couple of matches between these players.

It does feel that the match is going to come down to how well Wawrinka is playing. He has produced some top tennis at the business end of Grand Slams and Wawrinka is someone who has displayed the power to penetrate top defensive players like Murray and Novak Djokovic and for long enough to beat them over the best of five sets format.

Wawrinka's form over the last couple of weeks suggests he is going to be able to do that against Murray, although there have been some more difficult moments than his straight sets wins have highlighted. Yes he destroyed Cilic, but someone like Murray could be more of an issue like Gael Monfils proved to be and Wawrinka needed two really tight sets to move into a 2-0 lead against the Frenchman.

Murray can still defend well enough to extract mistakes from the Wawrinka game and my main feeling is that we are going to see at least four sets played. Unlike the issues Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils had when in a position to win sets, I think Murray's experience will help him come through those moments to not allow Wawrinka back in.

On the other hand Wawrinka's level of form suggests he will be able to hurt Murray like others have over the course of this tournament and so backing this total games to be surpassed is my feeling from the match.

Last year their four set match ended with just 36 games in total being played, but I think we can get a little more out of these players in their current form. A couple of 6-2 sets meant the games finished under the total that has been set for this match, but I am expecting we will see at least one tie-breaker in this Semi Final in what should be a close match.

I will be looking for the first two sets to be split between two quality players, with the pivotal third set likely to provide the winner. This year I think the sets might be more competitive than they turned out last year with the way both Murray and Wawrinka have been playing and I will back the total games to be surpassed and hope Wawrinka isn't in the destructive mood he was in the Quarter Final.

Rafael Nadal win 3-1 v Dominic Thiem: Three weeks ago, Dominic Thiem became the first, and only, player to beat Rafael Nadal during this clay court season. After that win, Thiem won just one game in two sets against Novak Djokovic as he struggled to deal with the emotion of the victory and subsequently fell apart against the former World Number 1.

That does raise some questions as to how Thiem will react to arguably the best win of his career when crushing Novak Djokovic in straight sets for the loss of just nine games. Thiem himself admitted the difficulty in winning a Grand Slam title when you have to take on someone like Nadal in the Semi Final after beating Djokovic in the Quarter Final, but he shouldn't be fatigued.

I think there is another difference too.

Thiem had never beaten Djokovic prior to the win in the Quarter Final here and I do wonder if that played a part in his capitulation against him in Rome. On the other hand Thiem has won his last match against Nadal to give himself confidence, while he also beat Nadal on the clay courts in South America in 2016.

The Austrian has been hitting the ball so well that he will give himself some chances in this one, but you can't ignore how well Nadal has been playing. The 'King of Clay' was on the way to another routine win on Wednesday before Pablo Carreno Busta retired in their Quarter Final and Nadal has yet to drop more than eight games in any match he has played so far in the French Open.

Nadal has looked brilliant so far in the event, but not many will come to the court like Thiem with the belief he has that he can win this match. He has been getting closer and closer in their three matches on the clay courts over the last two months and broke through with the victory in Rome after a fairly easy defeat in Monte Carlo was followed by a tight two set defeat in Barcelona.

That belief and confidence from those matches will certainly see Thiem have the most success that anyone has against Nadal over the last two weeks. I can see him being good enough to take a set, but I am not convinced Thiem will be able to stay with Nadal in this best of five set match.

As well as he played in beating Nadal in Rome, this time Thiem is coming off an emotional win and his opponent is far better rested than he was in Rome when the entire clay court season's fatigue landed on Nadal. The first two sets are crucial for Thiem and I think he will get to 1-1 there, but I can see Nadal having more energy in the tank which can help him come past Thiem in four sets.

The layers believe another routine Nadal win is in the offing, but I think Thiem's returning statistics here in Paris are too hard to ignore and he will have enough to take a set. I will have a small interest on Nadal winning this one in four sets at a decent price.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray-Stan Wawrinka Over 40.5 Total Games @ 2.05 William Hill (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal Win 3-1 @ 3.75 Bet365 (1 Unit)

French Open Update: 57-38, + 31.54 Units (189 Units Staked, + 16.69% Yield)

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