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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Australian Open Tennis Day 11 Picks 2018 (January 25th)

There might be some unfamiliar and unexpected names at the business end of the first Grand Slam of the season, but this isn't a bad thing for tennis which needs to produce some new stars to challenge the established names on the Tour.

It also makes for some intriguing matches which look very competitive on paper, although some of the big names will be hoping they can still leave their mark on the event.

By the end of Day 11 at the Australian Open we will know the two Finalists in the women's tournament and half of the men's Final will also be determined. This is the last really busy day of the Australian Open with the final three days having one Singles match set for each day.

Tennis Picks from Day 11 are below.

Marin Cilic - 4.5 games v Kyle Edmund: Both Marin Cilic and Kyle Edmund went into their Quarter Final matches as significant underdogs, but both were able to move past Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov respectively. Beating players who are in the top 5 of the World Rankings will have given both Cilic and Edmund plenty of belief to take into this Semi Final and there will be a similar approach from both players.

The heavy serve followed by a big forehand is going to be the play for both Cilic and Edmund as they try and dictate rallies on their own terms. I do think Cilic has the slightly better serve, particularly on the second serve, but Edmund has the bigger forehand that can cause havoc when he is hitting the marks.

Cilic will believe his backhand is a little more secure too and I do give the Croatian the edge in a tough Semi Final.

It won't be easy with the way Edmund has fought through some difficult moments all week, but at some point I do wonder if all the tennis he has played is going to come back and be a factor. At the moment Cilic has dropped half the number of sets that Edmund has through the tournament and he will have benefited from the unfortunate injury Rafael Nadal suffered in their Quarter Final match.

This is all about making sure recovery times are used to the fullest for both Cilic and Edmund in the time between their Quarter Final and the start of this Semi Final. However another edge that seems to be leaning towards Cilic is the superior returning ability and I think he is going to be able to have plenty of joy against the Edmund second serve which is going to prove to be the difference in the match.

Edmund has seemed a calm character this past week as he has come through difficult moments against Kevin Anderson and Nikoloz Basilashvili, while character was shown in losing his break advantage in the fourth set against Grigor Dimitrov by breaking again in the next return game. However now he has to deal with the chance of making a maiden Grand Slam Final and that puts a different emotional baggage on a match, although Cilic will also deal with the pressure of being a favourite and expected to win.

Cilic has made it through to Grand Slam Finals though and he has won the US Open which is going to give him another edge in experience. It does feel like things are falling down on his side of the court a little more and I think Cilic can use that to get the better of Edmund in what is likely to be a tough match.

The returning numbers look significantly better in favour of Cilic through the tournament and I think he is able to cover this number of games in a four set win. The Croatian likely will have to deal with some early nerves and Edmund is playing well enough to take a set, but I think Cilic will have the majority of break points.

He is playing at a level where you think he will take those that chances when they come his way and I like Cilic to progress to another Grand Slam Final on Thursday.

Elise Mertens v Caroline Wozniacki: It might not have been the best performance Elina Svitolina has ever produced, but much of the credit has to be given to Elise Mertens for the way she handled her first Grand Slam Quarter Final. The Belgian has long been considered one of the brightest young talents on the WTA Tour, and she has made her move at the Australian Open after winning the title in Hobart this month.

Confidence can be so important for players to find the extra percent or two which can take someone from an also-ran into a contender. That has to be helping Mertens who has yet to drop a set at the Australian Open and who has the kind of game that looks like it will be very difficult to break down.

The task falls to Caroline Wozniacki who has to know her chances of winning a maiden Grand Slam may not ever get better than here in Melbourne. The Dane has been in good form herself, but I do wonder if the incredibly late finish in her Quarter Final win over Carla Suarez Navarro could have a negative influence on her in this Semi Final.

Even then, Wozniacki has a considerable edge in experience and she will feel her Second Round win over Jana Fett means it is her destiny to win the title here. Wozniacki was down match points and 5-1 in the deciding set before turning things back in her favour and she has looked strong ever since with just a single set dropped.

It is no surprise that Wozniacki comes in as the favourite having beaten Mertens in their one previous match on the clay courts in Bastad in 2017. That is a surface that is perhaps better for Mertens than for Wozniacki so the latter has to be feeling good about her chances of winning this Semi Final and competing for the title on Saturday evening.

That is probably the sensible thinking too, but I have to say I have been impressed with the way Mertens has played this week. The numbers have been incredibly good on both the service and returning side and Mertens will absolutely believe she has the defence and attack to really go after Wozniacki here, especially if Wozniacki is not hitting through the court which can be a criticism of her game at times.

I imagine there will be a few breaks of serve in this one with the way the two players can return the ball, but I have a feeling the underdog is a big price and worth backing to win. Mertens has the kind of game that should match up well with Wozniacki's and I think there is a little more pop off the ground that can see the Belgian go on and win this match.

We can't really figure out how Mertens will feel in the pressurised situation of a Grand Slam Semi Final but she has handled herself so well this week that I think she will thrive in the situation. I certainly think she will produce close to her best tennis and I believe Mertens has the tools to take the game to Wozniacki and win this one as the underdog.

I will keep the interest to a minimum with Wozniacki capable of playing enough balls to make Mertens begin to feel the nerves, but I think the numbers suggest the latter can win this match. I will look for her aggression and confidence to help protect the serve and the strong returning numbers to get the better of Wozniacki over three sets.

Angelique Kerber - 1.5 games v Simona Halep: A lot of people may consider the winner of this second women's Semi Final as being the favourite to win the title on Saturday as the Australian Open reaches its conclusion.

Both Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep were impressive winners in their Quarter Final matches on Wednesday and fatigue shouldn't be an issue as both dominated those matches. Kerber lost just three games in dismissing Madison Keys, while Simona Halep overcame a slow start to win twelve of the final fourteen games played against Karolina Pliskova to move into the Semi Final.

There is no doubt that this match is going to have a different feel for the two players as there are similarities in their games with movement and strong defensive tennis that can quickly be switched into aggressive offensive tennis. In the Quarter Finals they played two big hitting opponents against whom Kerber and Halep could use the power coming across the court against their opponents and expect their superior movement to wear those opponents down.

I am expecting some long and gruelling rallies in this one and I do think it will be a close match with little between them. The mental edge may belong to Kerber who has won four of the last five matches against Halep, although these two have not met in over twelve months and the latter has taken over as the World Number 1 in that time.

The ankle injury Halep had earlier in the tournament has not really lingered on as the Romanian has continued to move very well, and even the tough 15-13 final set decider against Lauren Davis has not held her back. Both will believe their return game has been working effectively enough to set them up for the victory in this Semi Final and neither Kerber nor Halep possesses a serve that will offer up a lot of cheap points so this is going to be a grind for both players.

The recent head to head does give Kerber and edge, even a slight one, between two players who have yet to lose a match in 2018. Matches between them have been decided by who has returned better on the day and I am giving Kerber the slight edge with a little more power coming out of her racquet that could make the difference in the match.

Expect to see plenty of breaks of serve and I would not be surprised if a final set is needed to decide the outcome of the match. However I think Kerber is playing the best tennis in the tournament and I think she will be able to test the Halep ankle much more than Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova have been able to do and I will look for the German to wear her down over three sets.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Elise Mertens @ 3.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Angelique Kerber - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 33-36, - 5.12 Units (138 Units Staked, - 3.71% Yield)

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