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Friday, 26 April 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (April 26th)

I didn't have the time to research the Tennis Picks for Thursday so there were no selections made to back up the win we had on Wednesday.

My mind was not ready to sit down and work things out after the Manchester derby on Wednesday evening and the slightly longer than expected journey back home due to roadworks being done on long stretches of the motorway. You don't want to hear my sob story here though, instead the focus is on the Tennis Picks from the Friday Quarter Final matches at the tournaments being played this week.

Guido Pella + 3.5 games v Dominic Thiem: There would have been a real hope for Dominic Thiem fans that their man was ready to get back to some of his best tennis after he won a big Masters title in Indian Wells. That came on the hard courts and the return to the clay courts would have been seen as a good time to put some strong runs together.

An early defeat in Monte Carlo was a real surprise, but Thiem has reached the Quarter Final in Barcelona without expending too much energy. Two good looking wins over Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Jaume Munar will stand the Austrian in good stead, but his numbers are still some way down on where they have been on the clay courts in recent years.

Where he has been someone who holds somewhere in the low 80s in terms of percentage, Thiem is holding down at 71% on the clay courts in 2019. Even though Thiem has yet to drop a set in this tournament, his hold number has only improved to 77% and it is the return game that has been key to his wins.

His whole game is going to be tested by Guido Pella who is having a career season on the clay and is looking to maintain his consistency on the court. The Argentinian has reached a career best Ranking at the beginning of the week and is continuing to trend in a positive direction with a couple of strong wins on the clay of Barcelona.

Guido Pella dropped the first set this week, but he has won five sets in a row as he has produced three wins to reach the Quarter Final. His service numbers are slightly improved this week compared with the season, while Pella has also been returning well enough to believe he can challenge Dominic Thiem if the latter is not able to turn the switch and produce a much better level than he has for much of 2019.

These two played a tight match on the clay of Buenos Aires last season and it feels like Pella is coming into this Quarter Final in much stronger form. Coupled with Dominic Thiem's slight decline in form on the clay courts through 2019 compared with previous seasons and this could be a close match in which the games being given to the underdog look very appealing.

Petra Kvitova - 3.5 games v Anastasija Sevastova: An indoor court on any surface should be something that is very much a confidence booster for a player like Petra Kvitova. You may assume that the clay courts are not really the surface for someone who is as aggressive as Kvitova is on the court, but she has shown throughout her career that she can be very effective on the surface.

The serve certainly helps Kvitova as it can set up short balls on a surface where she would prefer to avoid being dragged into the long rallies that could see her break down as she continues chasing the lines. It was a very strong weapon for the Czech player last year and she began her tournament in Stuttgart with a comfortable win in the Second Round.

In recent years Kvitova has had something of a mixed time in Stuttgart with some early losses around a deep run at the event. She is favoured to see off Anastasija Sevastova who has had some really good results on the clay courts in recent years, but who has perhaps not matched up the kind of level that Kvitova has produced on the surface.

The Latvian has been the more consistent returner on the clay out of the two players in this match, but she has not managed the same kind of numbers Kvitova produced in 2018. It is also going to be a big challenge for Sevastova to deal with the Kvitova serve, although their previous matches have been close enough to think the underdog does have the chance to spring the upset.

However I am backing the favourite to win and cover considering the performances on the clay over the last twelve months. Petra Kvitova has been playing at a very high level over that time period and it is enough to believe she can win this match with a break more in each set of a straight sets match.

Matteo Berrettini - 1.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: This looks like a Quarter Final that is best suited to the clay courts with two players who are very comfortable on the surface looking to secure some vital World Ranking points. Pablo Cuevas is a veteran these days who is clinging onto his top 100 World Ranking as he has struggled for consistency, while Matteo Berrettini is approaching his career best World Ranking having hit his peak earlier in 2019.

Both players have made their way through to this Quarter Final in different ways. Where Berrettini has been pretty dominant in his two wins, Cuevas has had to dig deep and need a final set to come through his own matches and this has come just days after winning a title on the Challenger Tour.

Fatigue could be a potential issue for Cuevas who has performed well enough on the clay courts in 2019, but has struggled when it comes to the return of serve which has prevented him winning more matches. Those numbers have actually dipped on both serve and return in the tournament here in Budapest as Cuevas has held in 75% of his service games and broken in 25%.

Now Cuevas has to deal with Matteo Berrettini who has been a big time server on the clay courts in the last couple of years but who has struggled with his own return. So far in his three matches in 2019 the Italian has been actually much improved with his return, but the serve has suffered a little bit, although the two wins in Budapest have been impressive against Mikhail Kukushkin and Aljaz Bedene.

In Budapest Berrettini has been holding 85% of the service games played and has broken in 35% and those numbers are impressive enough to give him the edge in this Quarter Final. I do think all of the tennis that Cuevas has played in the last couple of weeks is going to make it difficult for him too and needing three sets to win his two matches this week and now playing for a third day in a row is a tough spot for the veteran to be in.

Matteo Berrettini won't have things all his own way, but he looks to be performing at a higher level than Pablo Cuevas in the conditions and I will back the younger man to come through with a win and a cover.

MY PICKS: Guido Pella + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Matteo Berrettini - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-0, + 1.60 Units (2 Units Staked, + 80% Yield)

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