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Friday, 16 February 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (February 16th)

The Quarter Final matches in the four tournaments being played this week have been set for Friday and I am looking to build on a strong Thursday.

It was a good enough day where I managed to find a player who covered the number of games being asked despite LOSING the match, which is quite incredible. Pablo Carreno Busta was beaten 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, but that was enough to cover the 2.5 handicap and I think that has at least made up for some of the poorer luck I had earlier in the week and and at the end of last week.

I have been able to look through the Quarter Final matches to be played in Doha and Rotterdam on Friday, but any picks from Buenos Aires and New York will have to be added during the day.

Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 games v Caroline Garcia: There should be plenty of big hitting tennis on display on Friday in this Quarter Final when Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Garcia meet in Doha.

The difference for me is the superior returning that Muguruza has displayed and I think that can be the inches that separates players on any given day on a tennis court.

Both Muguruza and Garcia have solid serves which are going to generate cheap points, but I just feel Garcia will have to work a little harder a little more often than Muguruza. That builds a pressure on a player especially when they know break point opportunities are going to be rare during the course of a match.

I have to also say that Muguruza has looked slightly stronger in her wins this week than the ones Garcia has produced and I like the Spaniard here.

There will be some tight moments that Muguruza will have to work through, but I give her enough of an edge to ask her to win and cover this number of games in the match.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Catherine Bellis: An impressive win over Karolina Pliskova has taken Catherine Bellis through to the Quarter Final in Doha after coming through the Qualifiers. This is a different kind of test for her and Simona Halep has looked in good shape in her first appearance since losing the Australian Open Final.

Bellis had to face an aggressive, big serving game in the Third Round, but this time she plays an opponent who can look to outlast her opponents in long rallies. The young American will be asked to generate some of her own power and will also be forced into playing a lot of awkward balls if Halep is on her game and I think that is a tough challenge fo her.

I have been impressed with the way Halep has found her consistency this week to keep opponents in awkward positions on the court and her numbers on the serve and return have shown improvement from 2017.

Halep is a player that can see her serve become a little vulnerable when not hitting her marks and that always makes this kind of handicap difficult for her to cover. However the way she has been returning so far is impressive and I think she will put Bellis under immense pressure off the return.

Ultimately I think Halep's movement around the court and ability to turn defence into attack is going to be enough to beat Bellis. The latter can make it difficult at times, but Halep can do enough to clear this number of games as long as she serves to the standard she has been so far in Doha.

Petra Kvitova v Julia Goerges: This is the second tournament in a row that Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges are meeting and they played a really close match in St Petersburg.

Kvitova won on that day and went on to win the tournament and I think she can frank that form despite how well Goerges is clearly playing at this moment in her career.

There was a clear difference in the return performances of the two players when they met in St Petersburg and I think that is going to be a difference in this match too. Kvitova seems to get a little more from her return game and in a match featuring two big servers that is all that it takes to separate two players.

It will be close again because of the tough path Kvitova has had through the draw compared with Georges.

That could mean tiredness is a potential issue for Kvitova who won the tournament in St Petersburg, but I do like the way she has been playing. I would have had her down as a stronger favourite than she is in this Quarter Final and I am going to back Kvitova to frank her win over Georges by earning another here.

Kei Nishikori - 4.5 games v Radu Albot: At the moment the only thing that concerns Kei Nishikori is to make sure he is feeling as healthy as possible and winning the Challenger tournament in Dallas followed by a couple of wins in the New York Open will have helped the confidence.

There is no doubt he is the stand out player in the draw when at his full fitness, but that has always been something that has held Nishikori back from perhaps winning a Grand Slam or two already.

He is playing well as he takes advantage of those players that are simply not on his level and his numbers have shown that with a strong hold and a better break percentage on the hard courts than he has had over the last twelve months.

Nishikori should have a few chances to improve those numbers further when taking on Radu Albot who has surprisingly made his way through to the Quarter Final. Albot had a big win over John Isner in the Second Round, but ultimately he is a player who has to work hard to protect his serve and I am not convinced he can get the better of Nishikori in enough rallies to make this a very competitive match.

Obviously I could be wrong, but I would expect Nishikori to have the bulk of the break point opportunities in this one. Albot has not returned as well on the surface as Nishikori and I like the former top 10 player to continue on his road to recovery with a straight-forward 6-3, 6-4 win in this Quarter Final.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 10-6, + 6.20 Units (32 Units Staked, + 19.38% Yield)

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