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Tennis Picks 2019 (June 18th)

The next couple of days look a little iffy as far as the weather goes, but I think there is going to be enough time to get the matches throu...

Monday, 21 January 2019

Australian Open Tennis Day 9 Picks 2019 (January 22nd)

The Australian Open is really heating up now with the Quarter Final line up set in both the men's and women's draws and a number of the big names still involved in trying to add to the Grand Slam titles they have won previously.

However it has been a good tournament for some young players, while others have reached the latter stages of a Grand Slam in a bid to perhaps win one of these major tournaments before their window closes.

It should make for a fascinating couple of days and I have to say I have mainly enjoyed the tennis that I have been able to see over the last nine days. I do still feel it would be a major surprise if the winner of the men's tournament did come out of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, while Serena Williams is the player to beat in the women's draw but ultimately this will all be played out on the court in the next few days as the first Grand Slam of the 2019 season comes to an end.


Day 8 proved to be better than Day 7 and the positive position of this tournament remains, but things could still change with some poor selections and bad luck in the next few days.

I am going to keep chugging along and looking to make the right plays as I focus on the bottom half of the men's and women's draws and the four Quarter Finals to be played on this day.


Roberto Bautista Agut v Stefanos Tsitsipas: There will be an element of surprise in seeing these two players competing for a spot in the Australian Open Semi Final and the absence of Roger Federer from his section of the draw is an unfamiliar sight at this tournament in recent years. The two time defending Champion was dumped out by Stefanos Tsitsipas after missing a host of break points and it is going to be up to the Greek to regain his energy and to level out his physical and emotional effort put into the Fourth Round win over Federer.

So many have compared it to Federer's own big moment back in 2001 when he was able to beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in the Fourth Round, but what is less likely to be put out is that Federer actually lost his next match at that tournament. He wouldn't go on and win his first Grand Slam until two years later when beating Mark Philippoussis at that same tournament.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is going to receive plenty of support in this Quarter Final which may make things easier for him to deal with the emotion of beating Federer in the last Round. Back in 2001 Federer had to play local hope Tim Henman in the Wimbledon Quarter Final after beating Sampras, but it is still a huge test for Tsitsipas to back up his biggest Grand Slam win when many suggest it could be a passing of the torch moment.

He may also benefit from the fact he is playing Roberto Bautista Agut who at 30 years old is playing in his first Grand Slam Quarter Final too. It has been a very difficult tournament for the Spaniard as he has needed to dig deep three times already to win a deciding fifth set to move through the Rounds, but confidence has to be high having won the title in Doha prior to the four wins he has put together at the Australian Open.

Fatigue and accumulation of the time spent on court is an obvious concern for Roberto Bautista Agut, but I do think he is playing at an incredible standard and can ride the momentum to success. Both players have been superb when it comes to serving at this tournament, but Bautista Agut has a real advantage when it comes to the return of serve having broken at 24.7% this week compared with Tsitsipas who is down at 13.3%.

The Spaniard has created at least ten break points in every match he has played and is clearly the more comfortable returner on the hard courts. Some may say the number of break points created is not a major factor considering the time Bautista Agut has spent on court, but he has only played two more sets than Tsitsipas who has not created more than seven break points in three of the four matches he has played.

Tsitsipas was doing something similar in his run to the Canadian Masters Final back in August 2018 and he does seem to have a knack for playing the big points very, very well. He is going to need all of that to win this one though and I think his opponent is playing at a very high standard and looks to have the real edge when it comes to the return of serve that can see him win this as the underdog in the match.


Rafael Nadal - 8.5 games v Francis Tiafoe: The headlines might have been taken by Stefanos Tsitsipas in his win over Roger Federer, but another very young and talented player from the ATP Tour made his first big impact at a Grand Slam event. While the Greek player is still 20 years old, Francis Tiafoe was beating Grigor Dimitrov on the day of his 21st birthday to make it through to his first Grand Slam Quarter Final.

It was clearly an emotional moment for the American who had not shown much form going into the Australian Open to think this run was about to happen. Beating Kevin Anderson and Dimitrov will have given Tiafoe a lot of belief that is he is going to be able to compete with the best players on the Tour, but in this Quarter Final Tiafoe is facing one of the very best.

Rafael Nadal might have had some fitness concerns coming into the Australian Open, but those have not really been evident as he has breezed through four Rounds at the tournament. The crushing wins over Alex de Minaur and Tomas Berdych in the last couple of Rounds have been very impressive and Nadal is a big favourite to reach the Final when you think of the four names left in the bottom half of the draw.

If you think Nadal is going to have that in his mind you have another think coming because the Spaniard has based his career on making sure he works for every point and treats every point like it is the last he is going to play.

You always have to expect young players are going to show improvement, but Tiafoe's service numbers have been considerably higher than 2018. It is a small sample though so I am expecting to get a much better idea as to where his serving is when he faces Nadal who has broken opponents 41.2% of the time in this tournament as he has comfortably move through the draw.

The change in the service action has also reaped rewards during the Australian Open and Nadal has only been broken twice in the tournament. Both of those breaks came in the opening match and he has held serve 96.2% of the time in this event which should mean he is going to exert plenty of pressure on Tiafoe throughout this match.

Francis Tiafoe is going to have to improve his return if he is going to offer some sort of resistance to Nadal and this will have to be a day when he produces his very best serving. Picking himself up from an emotional win just two days ago is going to be very tough and his overall numbers against top 10 Ranked opponents on the hard courts have shown there is still plenty of room for improvement for Tiafoe.

I don't think it will all go Nadal's way with Tiafoe plenty talented to at least give the veteran something to think about, but I think this match is going to see Nadal eventually start wearing down an opponent and pulling away for a good looking win and a place in the Semi Final.


Danielle Collins v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: I might have picked Danielle Collins with the start on the handicap against Angelique Kerber, but even I was not ready to see the American crush a multiple time Grand Slam Champion for the loss of just two games. After spending time on the College circuit in her home nation, Collins is making up for lost time and her hard court pedigree makes her a very dangerous opponent for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Before this tournament Collins had only ever played in the main draw of five previous Grand Slam events and her combined record was 0-5 from those tournaments. She suffered three First Round losses last season while she failed to make the main draw in Melbourne having lost in the final Qualifying Round.

Even with that in mind Collins has managed to get inside the top 40 of the World Rankings and is set for a move further up at the end of this tournament. Her numbers in Melbourne have been improving in each passing match and having to break Julia Goerges to stay in the tournament on Day 1 seems a long time ago now.

It is hard to see how Collins can maintain this level and that is what Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be thinking as she enters this match as the favourite. While her numbers are better than 2018 on the hard courts, the Russian has not massively exceeded the kind of level she had been producing in the early 2019 matches in order to make it through the draw and the same cannot be said for Collins.

There is a different pressure on Pavlyuchenkova though she bids to make a Grand Slam Semi Final for the first time. She has suffered number of Quarter Final defeats over the years, but she may feel there isn't much of a window left for Pavlyuchenkova to potentially win a Grand Slam title whereas Collins should be able to play this match with a nothing to lose attitude having surpassed all expectations to get here.

Over the last couple of years Collins has shown a little more form on the hard courts than Pavlyuchenkova and coupled with the hotter performances in Melbourne I do think she can be backed as the underdog. Both possess strong first serves, which are going to be very important, but it is Collins who has the slightly better ability to protect the second serve that may prove decisive.

They have similar return numbers from this tournament but I do think Collins has been protecting serve a little better and I will look to ride the American's momentum into the Semi Final as the underdog.


Petra Kvitova - 2.5 games v Ashleigh Barty: These two players contested the Final in Sydney a couple of days before the Australian Open begun and both players have taken the confidence from that tournament into this one.

On that occasion it was Petra Kvitova who came from a set down to beat Ashleigh Barty and that will help her hold the mental advantage in this match as the Czech player is now 3-0 against Barty in her career.

Like in Sydney it will be Barty who receives the large majority of the backing from the crowd, but Kvitova doesn't really strike me as someone who will be that bothered by that. Instead she should be focused on having the chance to match her best ever run at the Australian Open and being in a position to win a third Grand Slam title having previously won twice at Wimbledon.

The performances have been scary from Kvitova who has bludgeoned her way past her opponents and not really been threatened at all. In her eight sets won at the Australian Open, only Belinda Bencic managed to reach four games in a single set, while it was Bencic and Magdalena Ryabrikova who have had the most success against Kvitova with five games won in their defeats to her.

Ashleigh Barty has not been much less impressive and her win over Maria Sharapova in the Fourth Round despite dropping the first set will really help her belief. After leaving tennis to play cricket for two years, Barty has come back and looked like one of the best players on the WTA Tour, but reaching a Quarter Final for the first time will feel like a real breakthrough for her.

There are still some questions about Barty's ability to challenge the best players on the Tour and her record against top 10 Ranked opponents is not that impressive. She has gone 2-1 in that spot in 2019, but Barty was just 1-4 in 2018 and her numbers really took a significant dent when playing those opponents.

On the bare numbers there isn't much between these players, but Kvitova may just have the slight edge on both the serve and return. In matches like this one that can make all the difference while the head to head can't be ignored as I would surely expect Kvitova to come into this match knowing she can find a win no matter what situation arises early in the match.

It is much more imperative for Barty to get off to a good start to give herself a shot of confidence that she can compete at this level against a player in some of the best form she has shown on a tennis court. Ultimately I have a little bit more faith in the Petra Kvitova serve and this is a player who is going to dictate the direction of the match with her big hitting.

At times that has let Kvitova down as she won't shy away from looking for winners even when making unforced errors galore, but the form and confidence should give the higher Ranked player enough of an edge in the sets played to win and cover this number.

MY PICKS: Roberto Bautista Agut @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 8.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Danielle Collins @ 2.05 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Australian Open 2019: 50-41, + 11.73 Units (179 Units Staked, + 6.55% Yield)

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