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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 10 Picks 2020 (January 29th)

The last of the Quarter Final matches that were played on Day 9 at the Australian Open was perhaps the most straight-forward of the four that were completed.

It might not have looked that way when looking at the scoreboard and noting that three of the four matches ended in straight sets, but Sofia Kenin and Ashleigh Barty were involved in close matches that could have easily swung another way.

Those two are ready to meet in the Semi Final in a couple of days, while Novak Djokovic largely made light work of Milos Raonic to earn his place in the last four.

However the best match of the day saw Roger Federer come through in five sets against Tennys Sandgren and the former World Number 1 was right to suggest he was 'lucky' to get through. All of the chances were with the American who missed seven match points, while the overall numbers from the match suggested that Sandgren was the player who deserved to win.

Roger Federer was suffering with an injury too and he does not have very long to get ready for this match which is likely going to see the layers set him as a significant underdog against Novak Djokovic. Matches between these players have been close over the last few years, but Djokovic has had the edge and he looks to be in much better shape all around in this one.

That's all for another day and the focus on Day 10 at the tournament is the remaining four Quarter Final matches that are scheduled to be played.

Tennis Picks from those matches can be read below.

Simona Halep - 3.5 games v Anett Kontaveit: For much of the Australian Open Anett Kontaveit has been in imperious form, but she had to ride out some difficult moments and also rally from blowing a big lead in her win in the Fourth Round. The final set saw Kontaveit lose a 5-1 lead, but hold herself together in a 7-5 win, although it was a match that could have easily gone another way with a couple of bounces of the ball.

The win will have given the Estonian confidence and she has crushed Belinda Bencic on her way through to the Quarter Final. Anett Kontaveit has been flying on both the serve and return so far in Melbourne and it does make her dangerous, although she does have a pretty poor record against top 20 and top 10 players on the hard courts.

She will be facing one of those in this Quarter Final as Simona Halep maintained her run of straight sets wins in the tournament when dismissing the in-form Elise Mertens in the last Round. The levels have been consistent from Halep throughout this tournament and she broke Mertens five times in the Fourth Round meaning she has managed that total in all four matches played at the Australian Open.

The return has always been a big part of the Simona Halep game, but she is also holding things together behind the serve even if the percentage of points won behind that shot is not as strong as the number Anett Kontaveit has produced in the tournament. Despite that, Kontaveit has faced eleven more break points than Simona Halep across the four matches at the tournament and I do think the edge has to be with the former World Number 1 in this Quarter Final.

In their two previous matches Simona Halep's return and serve have been a lot more efficient than Anett Kontaveit's. However it has been three years since they last met one another and so I am not sure the head to head has a major impact in this game.

Over the last twelve months there might not be much between these players in terms of the basic numbers, but Anett Kontaveit has struggled when facing the best players on the Tour on this surface. I have a lot of respect for the way Kontaveit was able to blow Belinda Bencic off the court, but Simona Halep is in good form and I do think she can wear down the Estonian in a good looking match.

Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Two of the hottest players in the Women's tournament meet in the Quarter Final and I do think both Garbine Muguruza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will understand the opportunity in front of them.

Garbine Muguruza has won two Grand Slam titles and reached the Final of another, but she has yet to surpass the Quarter Final at either of the Slams played on the hard courts. Her best effort was a run that ended in the Quarter Final in Melbourne in 2017, but the performances of the Spaniard in the last two Rounds suggests she could be peaking as she has done at Grand Slam tournaments at the right time in the past.

Her opponent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova did win the Australian Open Juniors title, but she has not found the consistency on the professional Tour that she would have liked. Not many would have predicted this being a player that would not have been able to crack the top 10 of the World Rankings, but that has been the case so far in her career and at 28 years old chances are beginning to run down to win a Slam.

While the Russian has not played in a Grand Slam Semi Final before, she is going to be trying to make the breakthrough having been beaten in the Quarter Final in five previous Slams and Pavlyuchenkova has reached that Round at all four Grand Slams played. Her best successes have come at the Australian Open where she is playing in her third Quarter Final having reached this Round in 2017 and 2019.

Only one of the five previous Grand Slam Quarter Final losses have been uncompetitive so nerves have not really affected Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a manner you may have expected. She has been serving very well at the Australian Open in 2020 and Pavlyuchenkova's return numbers would have been much better if she had been more efficient when it comes to the break points behind created.

The Russian has created at least fourteen break points in each of her last three matches here, but you do have to wonder if the accumulated time on court is going to be a detriment to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She has now spent over seven hours on court to win her last three matches and faces Garbine Muguruza who needed a little more than two hours to win back to back matches behind a huge serve having won 77% of service points across those two matches.

It is the serve that is going to be the dominant shot for both, but Muguruza also looks to be peaking with her return and I do think that gives her the edge in the Quarter Final. Over the last twelve months the numbers on the hard courts have been similar, but I do think the Spaniard is playing the stronger tennis and she should be the fresher player at this stage of the tournament.

Garbine Muguruza also has the better head to head record, although their last hard court meeting was three and a half years ago. While those head to heads should not be a major factor in the match, I do think the Garbine Muguruza return proved decisive in those matches and the feeling is that we are going to see something similar here.

The two time Grand Slam Champion looks to be playing the big points a little better than Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and that might be the difference on the day. I would have loved this selection if the game handicap had been one game lower like the initial line came out, but I am still happy enough to back Garbine Muguruza to wear down Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in this one too.

Alexander Zverev - 1.5 games v Stan Wawrinka: This looks to be a fascinating Quarter Final between a young player looking to reach a maiden Grand Slam Semi Final against a veteran who has won multiple Slam titles but still surprisingly made his way through the Australian Open draw.

Stan Wawrinka is a former Champion here, and he looks to be over some of the injury concerns which saw him slip down the World Rankings. He did reach two Grand Slam Quarter Finals in 2019, but he is back at this stage for the first time since 2017 at the Australian Open.

The hard court numbers produced by Wawrinka over the last couple of years have not been the most impressive, particularly the return of serve where he has had some difficulties. Breaking serve has tended to be a problem for him, but Wawrinka has played well enough in this tournament and he did create eleven break points during his Fourth Round upset of Daniil Medvedev.

However you would think he is going to be tested by Alexander Zverev who has reached a Quarter Final at a Slam for the first time away from the French Open. The German has quietly gone about his business having been in poor form at the ATP Cup and Zverev has yet to drop a set which means he should be fresher than Stan Wawrinka even though the latter has benefited from the Third Round win over John Isner which ended prematurely when Isner pulled out in the second set.

Even then Stan Wawrinka has spent a couple of hours more on court and Alexander Zverev has been serving with huge success through the first four Rounds. It does have to be factored in that only one of those four opponents are inside the top 50 of the World Rankings, but Alexander Zverev has won matches in exactly the fashion expected which should have boosted confidence.

Alexander Zverev has dropped serve five times in the tournament and it has allowed him to take chances on the return. His overall performances have been at a consistently good level and Stan Wawrinka has just about edged out a couple of opponents and there has to be some questions about the fatigue building up despite ending as strongly as he did against Daniil Medvedev a couple of days ago.

The German had a considerable edge on the return of serve in their previous matches, but I think the bigger factor here is going to be how well Alexander Zverev handles the occasion. In his two previous Grand Slam Quarter Finals he has invested so much into those tournaments to get to that Round that he had nothing let to give, but this time he should be the fresher player and I think Alexander Zverev can come through in what may develop into an epic Quarter Final.

Rafael Nadal - 4.5 games v Dominic Thiem: This is going to be the fourteenth time Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are meeting on the Tour, but all but one of the last thirteen have been played on the clay courts. They have previously met five times at Grand Slam level and Rafael Nadal has won all of those matches, but the most competitive was a Quarter Final at the US Open in 2018 which was won by the Spaniard in five sets.

Rafael Nadal made an awful start in that Quarter Final as he dropped the first set 0-6 and it was a very competitive match all around. It is the only time Dominic Thiem has reached the Quarter Final at a Grand Slam outside of the French Open, although he has been impressive so far in Melbourne as he matched the run in New York City eighteen months ago.

The Austrian crushed Gael Monfils in the Fourth Round, but he has dropped three sets during his run to the last eight in Melbourne. At least the last match was fairly routine which means Dominic Thiem has had the full amount of time expected to get himself mentally and physically ready for this challenge and he will also be hoping Nadal is suffering from any tiredness that may have lingered from spending over three and a half hours on court in beating Nick Krygios in the Fourth Round.

One set was dropped in the victory for Nadal who has been cruising through the tournament prior to the Fourth Round. The serve has been a huge weapon for Nadal who has dropped it just twice in the last three Rounds and winning a huge percentage of points meaning opponents have earned just three break points in those matches too.

The Dominic Thiem serve has also been in good order for the most part, but the first three opponents faced in Melbourne all created seven break points in their matches against him. In the main Thiem has been in fine form behind his own serve, but this is now going to be tested by a returner like which he has not faced in the tournament and I think Rafa Nadal is playing well enough to find the break point chances like he has throughout this tournament.

Over the last twelve months Rafael Nadal has been the stronger hard court player than Dominic Thiem by some distance. That match back in New York City eighteen months ago saw Nadal make a very slow start, but as long as he can weather the early storm his serve has the slight edge which can see the World Number 1 end up pulling away and securing a good looking win on the day.

MY PICKS: Simona Halep - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 32-27, + 4.46 Units (120 Units Staked, + 3.72% Yield)

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