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Friday, 2 November 2018

Paris Masters Tennis Picks 2018 (November 2nd)

Thursday proved to be a very strong day for the Tennis Picks from the Paris Masters and another couple of players fell away from a potential top eight finish and a place at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Both John Isner and Borna Coric were beaten which means there are now two places available with three players in the running to make those. Marin Cilic is on the brink of securing his place and Dominic Thiem is not far behind which may mean Kei Nishikori has to wait and see what happens with Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal before determining if he is going to have an opportunity to play in London.

Kei Nishikori could still confirm that place without the need to see others withdraw, but he has to really win the Paris Masters and hope Cilic and Thiem are knocked out as soon as possible. It is certainly a long shot, but we will see where things stand at the end of Friday when the Quarter Final matches are completed.

Alexander Zverev - 2.5 games v Karen Khachanov: The vast improvements made by Karen Khachanov in 2018 is backing up my opinion that this young Russian player is a future Grand Slam Champion in the making. He has begun to make a big move up the World Rankings and Khachanov is looking to put a neat bow on 2018 before getting preparation together for the 2019 season as he looks to win another title.

This would be the biggest one in his career, but Khachanov has to snap a losing record against Alexander Zverev who is the one youngster that has joined the elite in men's tennis. The German is set for another appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals and while this could be a rivalry that decides major titles in the years ahead, Zverev is currently further along than Khachanov.

They met at a Grand Slam earlier this season and it was a very close match at the French Open which saw Zverev come from 1-2 down in sets to win in five sets. That is arguably a match that took place on a surface on which Zverev is more comfortable than Khachanov, but that won't be the case on Friday with both having very similar numbers on the hard courts in 2018.

Khachanov showed his improvement in his win over John Isner on Thursday in the Third Round, but it was a longer match than it should have been with match points missed in the second set. Overall his return game has not been as strong as Zverev's and that could be the difference between them in this Quarter Final, while Khachanov has had to win three matches to reach this Round compared to his opponent's two wins.

It could all add up to Zverev having a little more in the tank compared with Khachanov and I think it will lead to a win for the higher Ranked player. If Khachanov serves as well as he can, then this could be a more difficult match for Zverev, but I think the German can serve just as big and has the superior return game which could mean one or two more break points are earned and he can be in a position to win and cover in this Quarter Final.

Dominic Thiem - 3.5 games v Jack Sock: Twelve months ago Jack Sock may have been playing the best tennis of his career which saw him win the Paris Masters and sneak into the ATP World Tour Finals. The American reached the Semi Final in his maiden appearance in the Tour Finals, but 2018 has been a considerably more difficult season for Sock and he is set for a big drop in the World Rankings.

Being back in Paris at this tournament may be inspiring Sock to make another big effort at winning the title here and preventing the kind of fall in the World Rankings that may have been coming with another early exit in a tournament. Sock had been 5-13 on the hard courts in 2018 so you couldn't really have a lot of hope he was going to have a week where he would win back to back hard court matches for the first time this season.

Wins over Richard Gasquet and Malek Jaziri have to be respected particularly as Sock has won all four sets played so far this week and only once has he lost more than three games in a set.

I do think the quality of opposition increases by some margin when he faces Dominic Thiem in this Quarter Final, but Sock was able to beat the Austrian here two years ago. That will give Sock confidence and it is clearly not a result that Thiem has forgotten as he looks to get back to the ATP World Tour Finals.

Thiem is actually fun to listen to- unlike most players who will use the 'one match at a time' style of interview, Thiem has made it clear he knows exactly what he needs to do to return to London for the Tour Finals. That attitude is appealing to the fans and he has also spoken about how tough this match will be and about that defeat to Sock in 2016.

He has been much improved on the hard courts in 2018 compared to previous years and Thiem will be very confident he can win this match. I do worry about some of the nervousness he displayed in his win over Borna Coric in the Third Round, but that shows how much Thiem wants to do well at this tournament and he has been playing much stronger tennis than Sock in 2018.

You can't ignore the two wins Sock has had here this week and even Thiem admitted Sock will be a tough out as the defending Champion here. However I think Sock is going to need to improve his game from his two wins over Gasquet and Jaziri this week and I will back Thiem to win and cover what looks to be a big number.

Roger Federer - 2.5 games v Kei Nishikori: I don't think it is secret that Roger Federer is not playing as well in the second half of 2018 as he was at the beginning of the calendar year, but he can still end the year with some positive results.

Winning the title in Basel was a big achievement for Federer considering he was rarely at his absolute best, but he is looking to back that up at the Paris Masters before the ATP World Tour Finals begins.

Federer had to dig deep to beat Fabio Fognini in the Third Round and he will be the first to admit that he will need to be a lot stronger if he is going to get the better of Kei Nishikori. The latter is still chasing a place at the Tour Finals and he has been in fine form over the last couple of months which should give him confidence to reverse the result from when these players met at the Shanghai Masters.

It was Federer's slightly superior serving that gave Federer the chance to win that match, but it was a tight contest and I am not convinced that Federer would have won if the match had moved into a third set.

However he has maintained the strong run of success against Nishikori and the latter continues to have his difficulties in big matches as well as those against some of the stronger players on the Tour. That could potentially be a real factor going against Nishikori again when these players meet in the Quarter Final and I am going to back Federer to win and cover.

MY PICKS: Alexander Zverev - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Paris Masters Update: 5-1, + 7.10 Units (12 Units Staked, + 59.17% Yield)

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