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Friday, 2 February 2018

Davis Cup Tennis Picks 2018 (February 2nd)

There has only been a couple of tournaments scheduled this week and I have been keeping an eye on both the WTA Taipei City and WTA St Petersburg events being played.

However there hasn't really been any matches to have interested me enough to make picks since Monday and that is mainly down to the some of the uncertainty that comes in the week after a Grand Slam event.

To be honest I think the layers have been right on the money when it comes to their margins in the matches so far this week and when you think that then the obvious choice is to wait for better options.

Those may have been provided by the Davis Cup World Group ties that begin on Friday with a number of matches scheduled at the various host venues. With the Sunday Singles matches not set until Saturday night, I find those markets are a little tougher to make picks from as layers don't really get their prices out until very close to the time the matches are scheduled to begin so the majority of my Davis Cup picks tend to come from the first day of the three day ties.

Of course the two WTA events being played reach the business end of their events which may provide opportunities, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. If there are no options, then I will wait until Monday and the beginning of three ATP events.

Alexander Zverev - 5.5 games v Alex De Minaur: One of the ties of the First Round of the Davis Cup is between Germany and Australia who are both led by one player who is considered to be amongst the best of the next generation of men's tennis.

Both Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios are going to carry the hopes of their nation in the Singles Rubbers and you have to think the one who can win their two matches can set up their nation for the upset.

That could be a critical match on Sunday, but Zverev would do well to make sure he is not overlooking the threat that Alex De Minaur could pose in this opening Singles match.

It says plenty about how well De Minaur has played in the Australian summer leading into the Australian Open that he has been asked to open the tie for the home team. De Minaur is actually the fourth highest Ranked Australian in the team this week, but he had been in fine form in Brisbane and Sydney although the mental test will be how much he has forgotten the humbling handed out by Tomas Berdych in the First Round.

Zverev also had a disappointing end to his Australian Open, and he is just 1-4 in Davis Cup matches for Germany which has to be playing on the mind. The manner of the defeat to Hyeon Chung will have upset the young German hope, but I think he can bounce back here with the strong performances he has produced on the hard courts over the last twelve months.

If he is not at the top of his game, De Minaur will cause problems and the home support is going to inspire the Australian in this one. I do worry about Zverev in the pressurised spots of representing his nation and Grand Slam matches where he has yet to really make the impact his potential suggests he should, but I think it is a matter of time he turns that around.

The bigger game should come out of Zverev's racquet in this opening Davis Cup match and I will look for him to work through to a pretty comfortable win in three or four sets.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 8.5 games v Liam Broady: The second Kyle Edmund decided he was not able to risk the hip and play on the opening day of this Davis Cup tie for Great Britain meant this team were huge underdogs to beat Spain. In all honesty they were underdogs anyway playing away from home and on the clay courts and I think Britain will do well to make this a competitive tie.

First up is Liam Broady making his Davis Cup debut and who has a best ever World Ranking of 158. He comes in as the 165 and with limited clay court experience over the last few years which all adds up to a big challenge against someone as comfortable on the surface as Albert Ramos-Vinolas is.

Even the lefty play from Broady is not a huge factor as he is playing another southpaw and I am really not sure how competitive the British player can keep this.

The Ramos-Vinolas serve can be vulnerable which will likely mean a couple of the sets are closely fought, but I think the Spaniard is also going to be able to pull away in one set which can give him a chance to cover a huge amount of games. It also has to be said that Broady has been doing a lot more winning than Ramos-Vinolas to open 2018, but that is coming at a lower level and ultimately that will make a difference in this match too.

Over the last couple of years Ramos-Vinolas has really improved as a clay court player on the main Tour and I expect that experience to play a part here. He is more comfortable on this surface and I think the Spaniard wears down his opponent and produces what looks a straight-forward win on paper.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 8.5 games v Cameron Norrie: The second Rubber in this Davis Cup tie between Spain and Great Britain has a similar feeling as the first. The Spanish team send an experienced top 30 Ranked player against a British player who is not inside the top 100 of the World Rankings and who has played very little clay court tennis over the last few years.

The Spanish team are confident enough that they have left their top 10 Ranked Singles player Pablo Carreno Busta out of the Singles Rubbers. That may be a surprise but Roberto Bautista Agut and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are very capable on this surface and I would expect the former to win his match with the same relative comfort as the latter.

You have to accept that Bautista Agut's serve can sometimes be vulnerable which makes this a big number of games to cover, but the consistency should put Cameron Norrie under pressure. The Norrie lefty serve can be a big weapon for him, but any time the rally gets beyond four shots you would shift the edge to Bautista Agut significantly.

Ultimately Bautista Agut is going to get enough balls back in play to use his defensive skills to wear down Norrie and extract mistakes from his game. That is going to be important to break down the Brit's game both mentally and physically and I am expecting a few breaks of serve to come out of it as the match begins to get away from Norrie.

The clay courts may not be the best surface for Bautista Agut, but he has reached the Fourth Round at the French Open in back to back years. That experience is enough to suggest he will begin to wear down Norrie once he has a feeling for the serve and how it is coming his way and I like Bautista Agut to also cover a big number in this Davis Cup tie.

Richard Gasquet - 5.5 games v Robin Haase: The French Davis Cup team have been able to call upon plenty of top players in recent years with a depth to their squad that has to be admired as most of the big names wish to compete for them. That led to a Davis Cup win in 2017 and France may still be the team to beat in 2018.

The second Rubber in this First Round tie against the Netherlands sees Richard Gasquet playing the Number 1 Dutch player Robin Haase. This is a match up Gasquet has enjoyed over the years with six wins from seven former matches against each other including the last four in a row.

Three wins came in 2017 and Gasquet played pretty well at the Australian Open to suggest he will be ready to compete at a high level in this one.

However he has to respect Robin Haase who had a couple of good runs in Chennai and Auckland before a disappointing First Round exit in Melbourne. The wins Haase had came against players that are not of the same level as Gasquet and I think this is a big mental test for him with the crowd very much against him and playing an opponent who has dominated him for the most part.

If he is serving well then he can give Gasquet something to think about, but you have to think the Frenchman will still find a way to get this done in three or four sets. Gasquet has something of a mixed record for France in Davis Cup Singles Rubbers, but I think this is a match in which he will feel comfortable and believe he can wear down Haase over a couple of hours.

Gasquet has tended to win his sets against Haase with some ease when he does get into a groove and I think that helps him cover this handicap.

Dusan Lajovic-John Isner over 41.5 games: The final Davis Cup pick from the opening day of the World Group ties comes from the Serbian-USA First Round second Singles Rubber.

Dusan Lajovic and John Isner both feel pretty happy on the clay courts, which may be a surprise when you think of the way Isner approaches his game. However Isner has admitted he prefers having a little more time on the return and groundstrokes and this is a player who has a win over Roger Federer in a Davis Cup tie on the surface while also leading Rafael Nadal 2-0 at the French Open.

Isner is not the player he was in those days, but he has the tools to put Lajovic under pressure in this one and is the right favourite. However home support and a decent clay court pedigree that Lajovic possesses should make this a close match and I would be surprised if we don't need to see four sets to decide the outcome of this one.

I can't rule out a decider either between two players who have met four times on the Tour and tended to be involved in very close matches. All but one of those four matches have needed a deciding set to find a winner, while the total number of games have been 23, 36, 35, 36 in those four matches and that is in best of three set situations with a tiebreaker in the final set.

I just can't see this match going down easily either way and with a couple of tiebreakers likely to play an important part, seeing the number of games surpassed looks the right play in this one.

MY PICKS: Alexander Zverev - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 8.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 8.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic-John Isner Over 41.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 0-1, - 2 Units (2 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

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