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Saturday, 25 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 7 Picks 2020 (January 26th)

Trust the Process...

We hear this plenty of times through the sporting world, but it also is an important mantra when it comes to making Tennis Picks in what is always a very long season filled with ups and downs.

Of course we want to see more ups than downs to start racking up the profits, but a slow start to the Australian Open may have dented some of the confidence in the way selections are being picked. However I refused to believe the system that proved so important last season and in 2018 has suddenly been one that I can't trust and so was rewarded with a strong 8-2 record to complete the first week at the tournament.

It pulled around the numbers to put us back in the black for the tournament, while the Outright selections are largely intact with the two players I've backed for multiple units making their way into the Fourth Round. The two Women's selections have both exited relatively early, which is a disappointment, but the foundation for a successful start to the 2020 season have been laid.

We have gotten into the Fourth Round of the tournament now and that means we have a bit more data to crunch to help with the selections. There are some decent matches that have been set already, but the Australian Open Women's Draw has been hit with multiple upsets throughout the first six days of the tournament which has left it wide open.

One player still fighting hard is Ashleigh Barty, but I also have to admire the form of Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep who are quietly making their way through the draw. Both of those players have Grand Slam titles under their belt which will make them confident, but I can make a case for another handful of players still in the tournament including Garbine Muguruza.

The Men's draw looks like being controlled by the four players who came into the tournament as the favourites, although John Millman showed upsets might not be too far away to decimate this draw too. Again there are some dangerous players floating around the draw that may believe they can go all the way, but it would still be a huge surprise if Rafael Naadal, Daniil Medvedev, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic are not lifting the title in one weeks time.

For now onto the first of the Fourth Round Picks from matches to be played at Day 7 of the Australian Open 2020.

Milos Raonic - 1.5 sets v Marin Cilic: A former Australian Open Semi Finalist and a former Australian Open Finalist are meeting in the Fourth Round at the 2020 tournament and I have to believe both Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic are confident in their chances of reaching another Quarter Final here.

This should be a big serving match with both players capable of taking the racquet out of the hands of their opponents. It has been the serves that have given them the foundation for success at this tournament and both Raonic and Cilic are coming off upset wins in the Third Round against top ten Seeded opponents.

One major difference was the manner in which Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic were able to get over the line- the former came through in straight sets and in two and a half hours spent on the court, while Marin Cilic needed five sets and over four hours to make his way into the second week of the tournament.

It is the second consecutive five set match played in a row for Cilic and he has spent almost four hours in total on the court more than Milos Raonic in the tournament so far. At least the conditions have been largely manageable rather than the heat we have seen in Melbourne in years gone by, but I still believe that additional time spent on court by the Croatian is going to be a factor in the match.

These two haven't faced each other in a couple of years now, and Marin Cilic had a slight advantage in the head to head having gotten a little more out of the return of serve in those matches. However Marin Cilic has not found that level in the last twelve months on the hard courts and I do think he is going to have some difficulty against the Milos Raonic serve which knocked Stefanos Tsitsipas out of the tournament in the Third Round.

Milos Raonic has been very strong behind the serve all tournament and that is putting intense pressure on his opponents. It cracked Tsitsipas in the last Round and I eel it is going to wear on Marin Cilic in this one especially as he looks to be struggling a touch on the serve himself. The Croatian will be able to get through plenty of games with his power and the limited ability of Raonic on the return, but the latter has been in good form in this tournament and I think that will see him edge through this Fourth Round match.

I would not be surprised to see a couple of Tie-Breakers and Raonic may have to knuckle down and not give anything away in those to win the match. His serve has been so strong as he is yet to be broken though and Milos Raonic will be encouraged by the amount of breaks Marin Cilic has given up in the tournament.

The Canadian has won over 80% of his service points in this tournament and I am going to back him to win this match in three or four sets.

Fabio Fognini - 1.5 sets v Tennys Sandgren: How many would have picked this as a potential Fourth Round match up? I don't think there will be a great show of hands outside of the respective teams of the two players and Fabio Fognini has the additional motivation of looking for revenge for compatriot Matteo Berrettini.

He was beaten in the Second Round by Tennys Sandgren who is enjoying his second strong run at the Australian Open in his career. He will be moving back up the World Rankings having slipped to Number 100 and Sandgren is off an impressive straight sets win over Sam Querrey in the Third Round.

The serve was not the key element for Sandgren that day, but he impressed wth his return of serve and that is going to be key for him in this match too. We have seen the Fabio Fognini serve be a vulnerable part of his game and that has shown up early in this tournament when he had to go through back to back five set matches.

Winning in straight sets in the Third Round is a huge bonus for Fabio Fognini, but he was beaten in straight sets by this opponent at Wimbledon last year. That is going to give Tennys Sandgren a mental edge, but he has also had to play a five setter in this tournament and the numbers have been largely average as he has snuck through matches.

Out of the two players it is Fognini who has been largely the better when it comes to the return of serve and he has played the better tennis in the tournament so far. I am sure Matteo Berrettini will have given him some advice as to what to expect from Tennys Sandgren and over the last twelve months the American has had some average numbers when it comes to main ATP hard court matches.

It has to be noted that Fognini is far from the best hard court players out there, but he has looked in the slightly better form than Sandgren in the tournament. I also think Fognini's return of serve can be a difference maker, especially as his opponent has allowed twenty-five break points in the last couple of matches.

I would imagine we will see three or four tight, competitive sets, but I am looking for the Italian to edge the majority of those as he reaches a maiden Quarter Final in Melbourne and only the second at Grand Slam level.

Roger Federer - 6.5 games v Marton Fucsovics: I don't even think Roger Federer knows how he managed to turn the Champions Tie-Breaker from 8-4 down to beat John Millman in the Third Round. It wasn't a vintage performance from Federer, but I also think you have to consider the fact that Millman does match up well with the former World Number 1.

That is less the case in the Fourth Round match against Marton Fucsovics who has done very well in Melbourne to come through three matches including an upset of one of the pre-tournament dark horses for the title. The Hungarian has lost both previous matches against Roger Federer and one of those came here at the Australian Open two years ago.

On that day Roger Federer was a comfortable straight sets winner, but they did play a tighter match in Dubai last year which has to give Marton Fucsovics some confidence. His form in the tournament will also build on that and he surely has to think there is nothing to lose and so can offer his best tennis on the day.

Marton Fucsovics has been producing some impressive serving in Melbourne and he has backed that up with solid return numbers and that does make him potentially dangerous. However his numbers on the hard courts at the main ATP level over the last couple of years have largely been average and I do think he is going to need Federer to be fatigued and unable to recover having been out on court for over four hours in producing his 100th win at the Australian Open in the Third Round.

At 38 years old the recovery can be that much more difficult, but Roger Federer breezed through the opening two Rounds and has been given plenty of time to recover with this match set for the Sunday night session on the Rod Laver Arena. It has been three years since Roger Federer was able to win a five set match at a Grand Slam and have to play another Round, but that happened in Australian and the United States in 2017 and he was able to produce a win in the next match.

He is that much older now, but I think the match up is a good one for Roger Federer and he has some encouraging return numbers in the tournament. The former World Number 1 will hope to be more clinical when the break points come up and he will still believe he has more to come from the serve, and I do think we will see some signs of that with Roger Federer here.

I think Marton Fucsovics can play his part in the first couple of sets, but like when they met here two years ago, I think Roger Federer can edge those before running away with the match.

Petra Kvitova - 3.5 games v Maria Sakkari: The player leading the headlines in Greek tennis might be Stefanos Tsitsipas, but Maria Sakkari will be the one looking to reach the Quarter Final at the Australian Open. She will likely receive the loud support we saw for Tsitsipas last year and the kind that Marcos Baghdatis has enjoyed in his visits to Melbourne and Maria Sakkari has already put one upset in the books in the tournament.

In the Third Round Maria Sakkari beat Madison Keys in straight sets and she has been serving well enough to believe it will give her a chance in this match. The numbers on the hard courts over the last twelve months have been nothing more than average for Sakkari, but this is a player that seems to thrive in the bigger matches.

Despite never entering the top 20 of the World Rankings herself, Sakkari is 7-12 in hard court matches agains top 20 Ranked players over the last three years. The Greek player has performed well in those matches and that record has to be respected as Maria Sakkari continues to produce better than her overall numbers would suggest.

In her last two wins Maria Sakkari has produced seventeen break points but also given up fifteen and I do think she is going to have to perform above her standard level to give Petra Kvitova a challenge in the match. Petra Kvitova was the Finalist last year and she looks to be peaking in this tournament again as she quietly makes her way through the draw.

The Czech lefty has yet to drop a set in three matches and she has largely been in control with only two of the sets played seeing Petra Kvitova dropping more than two games within a single set. She has much better hard court numbers than Maria Sakkari over the last twelve months and Petra Kvitova has been serving very well in the tournament as she takes advantage of the fast conditions.

Within this tournament Petra Kvitova has been dominating behind the serve with only seven break points allowed across the three matches played. That has given Kvitova a licence to go on the attack when she is returning and I do think she can use that formula to get past a difficult opponent.

These two players split two hard court matches in 2019, but it was Petra Kvitova who had the edge overall. She missed some big chances in her loss to Maria Sakkari in Cincinnati and Kvitova will have to be more composed during the big moments to make sure she can be in a position to win.

If the current form holds up I do think Petra Kvitova can work the breaks in to cover this mark, although I do believe it will be a match with some swings of momentum simply because of how effective Maria Sakkari has been against the best players.

MY PICKS: Milos Raonic - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Cori Gauff + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Qiang Wang - 2.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 26-23, + 1.54 Units (100 Units Staked, + 1.54% Yield)

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