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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (February 15th)

Wednesday proved to be a decent enough day with both Tennis Picks made from the same tournament in Rotterdam returning winners as both Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer both won very comfortably.

The other three tournaments did have enough matches on the schedule to anticipate there being a selection or two from those set for Wednesday, but nothing really stood out enough for me to select.

It can be the case at times and I didn't have any Tennis Picks on Tuesday for the same reason, but at least Wednesday turned this week around and moved the numbers into a positive position.

Thursday is another really busy day in the four tournaments being played this week and I have a few more Tennis Picks which can be read below.

Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 games v Sorana Cirstea: The first pick I will make on Thursday comes from the WTA tournament being played in Doha which has reached the Third Round.

Most of the big names are here this week and most have got through to the Third Round.

Garbine Muguruza is one of those and while she has had a mixed start to 2018 in terms of results, I do like her in this match up with Sorana Cirstea. The Muguruza numbers are not that bad, but she has perhaps not been returning as well as she would have liked, although she has still come through her Second Round match against Yin-Yin Duan comfortably enough.

I also expect Muguruza to get a nice rhythm out of the Cirstea game which will help the Spaniard eventually take control of the match in a similar way she has when these two players have met previously. The serving numbers are still good enough to put Cirstea under pressure, but Muguruza will have to make sure she isn't giving Cirstea any encouragement with the latter having a couple of solid looking wins this week.

However I do find Cirstea can fall away in matches when they are not going as she would like and that has been in evidence in 2018. A strong serving display from Muguruza should mean she can take a few more chances with her return of serve and I think she can win this match and cover this number of games.

Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 games v Catherine Bellis: This is not as easy a match for Karolina Pliskova as the layers may think with the prices against Catherine Bellis, but ultimately I do think the power of the Czech player will be the key difference on the day.

I would be surprised if Bellis is beaten as easily as she was when facing Pliskova earlier this season when going down 6-1, 6-1. She has played well to come through the Qualifiers and won a couple of matches in the main draw to reach the Third Round, while the young American has been showing off the potential which has seen many tip her up as a future star on the WTA Tour.

Bellis will be challenged by Pliskova who has been playing really well in 2018 and shown improvement in her return game which has helped her produce some solid runs in the tournaments she has entered. Pliskova has been particularly dominant against those players she has been expected to beat and her serve remains a potent weapon.

Improving success with her return of serve has been the reason for some of the dominant wins she has produced and I do think Pliskova can cover this number of games. While Bellis will have her successes at times, I think it will be difficult for her to keep Pliskova off when the Czech player does find her range and that will help her record what looks a relatively straight-forward win in the Third Round.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Anastasija Sevastova: There has been a big improvement in the way Anastasija Sevastova has been playing over the last twelve months, but the match up with Simona Halep continues to be a difficult one for her.

That is underlined by the head to head and the majority of those matches have been won by Halep pretty comfortably.

Halep came up a little short in the Australian Open Final and she dominated Ekaterina Makarova in her first Tour match since that loss. The numbers have been very strong for the Romanian in 2018 as she has been a little better returning the ball which is saying something from a player who has returned very effectively for some time.

She should have a chance to get into plenty of rallies on the Sevastova serve and, while the latter has also produced some very good numbers in 2018, I think the match up with Halep is not always one to her liking.

I do think Sevastova can cause some problems of her own with the movement and ability to turn defence into attack, but Halep has been playing very well both when serving and returning. The improvement in the numbers in early 2018 compared with 2017 has to bode well for the Romanian and I think she can win and cover this number of games against a quality opponent.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Mihaela Buzarnescu: A lot of credit has to be given to Mihaela Buzarnescu who has found some consistency in her tennis to move up the World Rankings. She is now the World Number 43 and Buzarnescu has reached the Third Round here in Doha which may see her take another step in a positive direction.

The Romanian reached the Final in Hobart earlier this season and she was a Semi Finalist in Linz at the end of the 2017 season, but otherwise Buzarnescu has not found consistent success at the main WTA Tour level. However those runs have shown she is capable of competing with the top players and Buzarnescu crushed French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko in the Second Round.

This is a tougher challenge for Buzarnescu though as Julia Goerges has been in fantastic form for a few months now. She has started 2018 very well with a title win in Auckland where Goerges beat Caroline Wozniacki in the Final just a couple of weeks before the latter won the Australian Open Final.

Goerges has also reached the Semi Final in St Petersburg and the German has been serving well enough to put the pressure on Buzarnescu to stay with her.

It will be tough dealing with a lefty, but I think Buzarnescu will be put in a tough spot by Goerges if the latter is still serving as well as she has been. The Goerges can return game can be something of a let down, but I think she is playing a little too well at the moment and can work her way through to the win and cover.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Johanna Konta: When you consider the leading performers on the WTA Tour at this early stage of the 2018 season you would pick the two players who have competed in the first Grand Slam Final. However Angelique Kerber is right amongst the top players on the Tour and has produced some of the tennis that took her to the World Number 1 spot in the World Rankings eighteen months ago.

The serve can be something of a vulnerability for Kerber when she is not at her best, but the numbers so far in 2018 have been strong enough to help her win matches.

Much of the success is based on a strong return game and so Johanna Konta will feel she can give Kerber a real run for her money as long as she is serving well. The serve has been a huge weapon in Konta's run into the top 10 of the World Rankings and it is clearly the foundation on which all of the British player's success will be built upon.

The Konta return has also been in fine shape so far this season, although a couple of poor performances have led to unexpected defeats. She looked much better representing Great Britain in Fed Cup action last weekend, but this is a tough match up for Konta with Kerber capable of using her athleticism around the court and strong defensive skills to bamboozle her opponent.

I do think there will be some twists and turns in the momentum during the course of this match, but I think ultimately Kerber is playing at a slightly higher level than Konta at this moment. The German has won the two previous hard court meetings between these players and I think Kerber can tough out a win in this one with the numbers she has been producing in 2018.

Andrey Rublev - 2.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: These two players have met three times on the professional Tour and it is Andrey Rublev who has won all of those matches including both played in 2017. Those two matches both came on the hard courts and I have to say that Rublev continues to show improvement.

The service numbers have remained pretty steady, but Rublev has opened 2018 with much improved return numbers which has made him much more dangerous for players to face.

Rublev reached the Final in Doha and the Quarter Final last week in Montpellier and a win over the eventual Champion of that tournament in the First Round in Rotterdam will only have increased the confidence of the young player.

He should be challenged by Damir Dzumhur who is a player with a strong set of return numbers, but his own serve is likely to be vulnerable to Rublev in this Second Round match.

Dzumhur beat Marius Copil here but is looking for consecutive wins in the same tournament for only the second time in 2018. I would expect there will be a number of break points in this match for both players but Rublev looks the stronger player both on the serve and return and I expect that will help him move through to the Quarter Final while covering this number of games.

Even a three set win should give Rublev the chance to cover the number of games being asked and I like the youngster's chances in this match against Dzumhur.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 2.5 games v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: Two Spaniards meet in Buenos Aires in the Second Round and Pablo Carreno Busta is looking to bounce back from a disappointing early exit in Quito last week.

He won't have it all his own way against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who has served pretty well on the clay courts despite having what looks a vulnerable serve when analysing it. However Garcia-Lopez has backed up the serve and he could put Carreno Busta under some pressure to look after his own serve in this match.

The return numbers clearly favour Carreno Busta who has used that side of his game to propel himself into the top 10 of the World Rankings, although Garcia-Lopez is still very capable on this surface.

It does feel like it will be a close match and I can see a few of the games getting to deuce from where anything can happen. Breaks of serve shouldn't be a surprise to anyone on the clay courts, but I think both players can see their serve attacked in this match which may mean a few more breaks than would be expected.

I do lean towards the higher Ranked Carreno Busta to work his way to the win though, although he may need three sets to do that. It will be tight at times, but I am looking for Carreno Busta to just pull away a little bit and I will back the top 10 player to cover this number in the Second Round.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Andrey Rublev - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Pablo Carreno Busta - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-4, + 1.40 Units (18 Units Staked, + 7.78% Yield)

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