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Monday, 10 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 10th)

Much like the Australian Open, the first half of the latest set of tournaments proved to be very difficult for the Tennis Picks, but things were much better at the conclusion of the events being played in Cordoba, Montpellier and Pune.

A strong end to the week added some more profit to the start of the 2020 season and that can only be a good thing to have three weeks of Tennis Picks and ending with a profit each time.

It is a new game beginning on Monday with five tournaments running this week from Asia, through to Europe and onto North and South America. At this time of the season I do have to factor in travel time for players on the Tour and how they are scheduled to play, especially early on in tournaments when jet-lag is perhaps a real issue.

For most I think the sensible decisions will have been made in terms of tournament selection- the majority of players involved in Cordoba are likely to move on to Buenos Aires for the latest stop on the South American Golden Swing. The two tournaments being run by the WTA this week are not too far away from the Middle East where back to back big events are played in Dubai and Doha, although some of the players involved have been playing Fed Cup this past weekend and may need to adjust to the stops in Hua Hin and St Petersburg.

This week we also have the first ATP 500 event of the season in Rotterdam which has regularly brought together some top names from the Tour and the only event that really looks out of place is the relatively new New York Open. Only four players inside the top 50 of the World Rankings are due to play in New York this week and the majority of that field will likely head to Delray Beach next week so it makes sense for those involved to try and pick up some important Ranking points from what looks a pretty wide open field.

In this thread I will add the Tennis Picks from the Monday First Round matches that will be scheduled at all of the events being played. Usually this is one of the quieter days as many tournaments will carry Qualification matches over before really getting their main draw matches going on Tuesday.

I have also updated the season totals below following the completion of the tournaments played last week.

With events being played across four continents, some Picks will have to be added once the market has been formulated for the matches as was the case last week in Cordoba.

Let's hope for another positive week to keep the solid start to 2020 going and back up the 2018 and 2019 season profits.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 1.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: It has been a long time since Pablo Carreno Busta would have decided to take in a hard court tournament over clay court events being played at the same time, but that is the case in February. Instead of heading down to South America for their 'Golden Swing' leading into an ATP 500 event later this month, the Spaniard is out in Rotterdam having been beaten early in Montpellier last week.

Overall the hard court numbers over the last twelve months have been decent from Carreno Busta on this surface and actually stronger than the numbers he had produced on the hard courts. However it has to be said for the majority of his career he has been little more than a better than average player on the hard courts and so it remains a surprise that he would play in Europe rather than South America.

In saying that Pablo Carreno Busta is going to need to improve his return game if he is going to make it worth his while playing in indoor hard court tournaments. So far in 2020 it has been the return which has let the Spaniard down, but he might be able to have a little more joy when facing Frenchman Adrian Mannarino who has opened 2020 with a 1-4 record and was also beaten early in Montpellier last week.

Adrian Mannarino has a lefty serve which is always going to make him a little awkward for other players to deal with. Ultimately it is not as strong a serve as he would like though and it is a part of his game which can be attacked even when someone has been out of form on the return of serve as much as Pablo Carreno Busta has.

His return can be a strong part of his game though and I do think Mannarino will cause problems against the Pablo Carreno serve. Much is going to depend on which one of these players can get more out of what has been the stronger part of their game so far in 2020, although you have to believe there is more room for improvement for Carreno Busta on his twelve month numbers on the hard courts.

I do expect to see a close match, but my lean is towards Pablo Carreno Busta finding a way to have the better of the contest. Three sets being needed would not be a massive surprise, but Carreno Busta can still find a cover as the slight favourite going into this First Round match and I will look for him to do that.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 games v Marton Fucsovics: Winning one Qualifier has earned Marton Fucsovics his place in the main draw in Rotterdam this week as he continues to move back towards his career best World Ranking which was achieved eleven months ago. Earning a spot in the main draw has also continued a strong beginning to the 2020 season for Fucsovics who reached the Australian Open Fourth Round last month.

He will need to keep that going if he is going to upset Roberto Bautista Agut who has also made a very strong start to 2020. Unlike Marton Fucsovics, Bautista Agut may actually feel like he missed an opportunity to have a much better Australian Open than his Third Round exit turned out, but overall he has also looked like he has come into the season in fine form.

The Spaniard has played really well in the first month of the season, although you do have to be a little wary when a player has had a couple of weeks away from the Tour. That should not be a major issue for Bautista Agut considering Marton Fucsovics has only played the one match since his defeat to Roger Federer in Melbourne two weeks ago.

Marton Fucsovics has made a strong start to 2020, but his numbers have not been as strong as the results may indicate. He has been very good at taking the break point chances when they have come their way compared with 2019 and that is shown by a very minor increase in points won against serve leading to a lot more breaks of serve than it did last season.

Over the last twelve months Marton Fucsovics has been winning 60% of points behind serve and 40% on the return of serve which are fairly average numbers on the hard courts. I would expect someone like Roberto Bautista Agut to take advantage especially as his serve has tended to be a lot stronger than the one the Hungarian brings to the table.

The Spaniard has also been the more consistent return player on the hard courts and I expect that will show up on Monday in this First Round match. It could be a good looking match, but Roberto Bautista Agut looks like he could be the stronger player on the day and I will look for him to come through with a cover of this line.

Maria Sakkari - 3.5 games v Vitalia Diatchenko: The Fed Cup was played this past weekend which meant the WTA Tour had a short break between the end of the Australian Open and the start of the events this week. Both events being played this week have put together some solid fields and this one in St Petersburg will have a number of local favourite performing.

One of those is Vitalia Diatchenko who came through the Qualifiers to take her place in the main draw. She is heading back towards a career best World Ranking, but Diatchenko will also know there is a big step up from beating two players Ranked outside the top 100 and now having to compete with a player on the brink of cracking the top 20.

Maria Sakkari is perhaps better than her numbers may indicate and she has reached a career best Number 21 in the World Rankings having made the Fourth Round at the Australian Open. I still can't ignore the fact that Sakkari has some pretty average hard court numbers over the last couple of seasons, but the small sample from 2020 has suggested she could be improving.

The return game does need improving if the Greek player is going to beat the best players consistently and perhaps win some major titles, but her serve is decent and gives Maria Sakkari a chance. She has finished with a losing record on the hard courts in 2018 and 2019 which is a real issue, but the seven matches played in 2020 have seen slight improvement in the percentage of points won on both the first and second serve.

That is going to be key for her to stay in front of Vitalia Diatchenko who has struggled to protect her serve when it comes to main Tour events on the hard courts. The Russian has a 4-24 record on the hard courts when playing top 100 Ranked opponents and she has been beaten in thirteen straight matches in that situation.

These two players have met twice before on the hard courts and it is Maria Sakkari who has won both matches including in Adelaide last month. The Greek player dominated on serve that day and only a failure to take her chances on the break points made the match a little closer than it actually was.

Maria Sakkari should have the majority of chances in this one and I think she will be able to come through with a cover in this First Round match.

MY PICKS: Pablo Carreno Busta - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Maria Sakkari - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Steve Johnson @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Marcos Giron - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

Season 2020: + 19.30 Units (197 Units Staked, + 9.80% Yield)

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