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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 13th)

The last couple of days have been a touch frustrating as far as the Tennis Picks have been concerned and I am looking for a fightback on Thursday as the remaining Second Round matches are completed this week.

A strong Monday has been followed by disappointing Tuesday and a really poor Wednesday, but I am happy with the choices made and just needed a bit better fortunes to the selections. The worst Picks were probably from the WTA St Petersburg tournament- I should have looked past Johanna Konta until she shows she is back to full health- but largely I've been happy and a couple of moments here and there and it would have been a much better week.

I have turned around the last couple of weeks after slow starts so I am hoping this week is not going to be a reverse of those after the strong start followed by a couple of poorer days. There is still four days to go to complete the week, but I am looking for things to begin improving as soon as Thursday and put some momentum into the remainder of this week.

The remaining Second Round matches across five tournaments are set to be played on Thursday before we head into the Friday Quarter Final matches. There look to be a host of matches that are ticking the boxes for me and you can read those Tennis Picks below.

David Goffin - 3.5 games v Jannik Sinner: It was a very difficult match for David Goffin on Wednesday as he came from a set down to overcome home favourite Robin Haase in the First Round in Rotterdam. He had to spend virtually two and a half hours on the court to win the match and off a long week in Montpellier it may have put David Goffin in a difficult position.

Ultimately he did win and I am not sure any professional player should be exhausted after playing one long match. It is a minor factor that has to be considered especially when he is facing an opponent who has moved into the Second Round of the tournament without hitting a ball.

Jannik Sinner has plenty of eyes on his game as the 18 year old Italian looks like a star in the making on the ATP Tour. He benefited from a walkover in the First Round, but there is no doubting the kind of talent he has having produced a strong year on the hard courts in 2019.

The majority of those were at a lower level than the main ATP Tour where Sinner will still be learning. He is just 1-4 on the hard courts in 2020 and he has just had a few issues behind the serve which is going to be examined by someone like Goffin who has broken in 33% of return games played on the hard courts prior to this tournament and who managed to create ten break points in his win over Robin Haase.

It is the Jannik Sinner return which could keep him competitive as he not facing a big server in this match, but the youngster admits he is still learning and he is just 1-4 on the hard courts when playing top 50 Ranked opponents. David Goffin is someone who will give Sinner the chance to build his rhythm, but the slow start to 2020 compared with the Belgian's should give the higher Ranked player the edge.

I have every belief that Jannick Sinner is going to be a star on the ATP Tour in the years ahead, but at this moment David Goffin is perhaps a little too consistent for him. There will be moments where we see the Italian showcasing some of his talent, but I think his serve has been a little vulnerable to open 2020 and David Goffin may edge two sets here.

Andrey Rublev - 4.5 games v Alexander Bublik: These two players are both 22 years old and both are on their way to career best World Rankings if they can win this big Second Round match. Out of the two it is Andrey Rublev who had more expectation on his shoulders and he is moving ever closer to cracking the top ten of the World Rankings for the first time.

A 12-1 start to 2020 is helping the young Russian, and what is an ever improving serve has been the key to the successes he is having. It was the serve that dominated Nikoloz Basilashvili in the First Round and it has allowed Andrey Rublev to take one or two chances when it comes to the return of serve.

The return has been pretty steady the last couple of years on this surface and Rublev looks to have picked up from where he has left off in 2019. While those numbers have been similar in 2018, 2019 and from the small sample of 2020 matches, the serve has improve in each passing year and it has given Andrey Rublev the platform from which to dominate opponents.

Alexander Bublik was also a good First Round winner, but he did not face someone as strong as Basilashvili. The Kazakhstani has enjoyed winning records on the hard courts in each of the last four seasons, but the numbers have been largely average and he is just 4-4 on the hard courts this year.

His serve has to be respected, but Bublik has held in 80% of the games played on the hard courts. It is the reason he has not been able to win more matches because the return remains a limited part of his game and it would be a huge upset if he can pull off the win on Thursday.

Andrey Rublev has won the last two hard court matches between these players and both of those matches were played in 2019. While holding serve in 85% of service games played, Rublev has restricted Alexander Bublik to 69% in those matches and that huge edge should have produced two more comfortable wins than the Russian enjoyed.

In both matches he did produce a 6-1 set though and I think an ever improving Andrey Rublev can get into a position to win this match and cover the big line at odds against. He looks to be serving very big and the Rublev return game is decent enough on the hard courts to believe he can secure a good looking win in the Second Round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas - 3.5 games v Aljaz Bedene: To take the next step in his career I think Stefanos Tsitsipas will be the first to admit that he needs to improve his return game on the hard courts. The big serve will always give him a chance to win matches, but it will be improvements made to the return of serve that will give the Greek superstar a chance to challenge the very best players and perhaps even start adding some Grand Slam titles to his collection.

On his day Stefanos Tsitsipas has shown he can compete with anybody on the ATP Tour, and his win at the ATP Finals shows the mentality of a Champion. However it was a poor Australian Open following a poor showing at the ATP Cup and Tsitsipas was in trouble in the First Round here in Rotterdam having dropped the opening set to Hubert Hurkacz and falling a break down in the second set.

His recovery was impressive, particularly the way he blunted what is a big serve and Stefanos Tsitsipas has to pick up confidence from the six breaks of serve converted. The return numbers on the hard courts over the last twelve months have not been that impressive from Stefanos Tsitsipas, but that was a rare day in which he excelled and it backed up what has largely been impressive serving.

The challenge to deal with a strong serve will be in front of Tsitsipas again on Thursday when he takes on Aljaz Bedene who upset Benoit Paire in the First Round. Aljaz Bedene is not that far below his career best World Ranking, but he has been an average hard court player and it is something of a surprise that he chose to miss the clay court swing in South America to play here instead.

Over the last twelve months Bedene has had better hard court numbers than clay court numbers though and his serve has been held in 86% of games played on the hard courts in 2020. Like his opponent, the return has held the Slovenian back and I do think whoever can get a bit more out of this side of their game will win.

Aljaz Bedene finished with a 5-4 record on the hard courts against top 50 Ranked opponents last season and that has to be respected. However it is the return aspect of his game that he has really struggled and the serve is simply not as effective as the one Stefanos Tsitsipas brings to the court.

Those service numbers have taken a significant dent when Bedene has faced top 20 and top 10 Ranked opponents on the hard courts and I think that will be the case here. You have to respect a player that could be dangerous with the chance of Stefanos Tsitsipas recovering breaks of serve a touch difficult with his own limitations on the return, but overall he should have the better of the match.

This is an intriguing line for the match, but the game handicap is one game less than where I would have placed it and I will look for Stefanos Tsitsipas to put another strong win in the books.

Kyle Edmund - 2.5 games v Dominik Koepfer: Go back fifteen months and Kyle Edmund was close to finishing the 2018 season and was up at a career best Number 14 in the World Rankings. Over the last twelve months the British player has struggled for consistency though and that has seen him drop back outside the top 50 in the World Rankings, although the tournament in New York offers Edmund a good chance to get some momentum back behind him.

He is only 3-3 on the hard courts in 2020 having won his First Round match here in straight sets, but Kyle Edmund has to also acknowledge he has been playing at a higher level than many of the other players in the draw here. One of those is Dominik Koepfer who is the World Number 94, although he might be playing with a bit more confidence having secured a sixth win of the 2020 season when beating last year's Finalist Brayden Schnur in the First Round.

Having a lefty serve makes Koepfer a little more awkward too, although I don't think Kyle Edmund will mind having his big forehand naturally going into the Koepfer backhand. Playing first strike tennis might be key for both players, and that is where Kyle Edmund could have the edge with his experience playing at a higher level.

As good as Dominik Koepfer's hard court numbers look on first glance, it is important to note that he spends a large majority of his time on the Challenger circuit. When he has stepped up to this level he has found his serve is not quite as effective and it is an area Kyle Edmund has to expect to have another advantage.

Confidence can be a funny thing in tennis though and my one doubt comes from the fact that Edmund does not have a lot of tournaments where he has put back to back wins together. He did do that last month in Auckland though and Edmund has beaten all three opponents he has played this season Ranked outside the top 50 and he has produced some very strong serving and returning in those matches.

His numbers are significantly stronger when taking on those players he is expected to beat over the last twelve months on the hard courts compared with his overall numbers. Kyle Edmund also is going up against Dominik Koepfer who is 4-15 in matches on the hard courts against top 100 Ranked opponents and the German has only held 75% of service games and found breaks in 14% of return games in those matches.

As I have said, confidence can lead to better than expected performances, but it would be a bigger surprise than the layers think if Kyle Edmund loses, at least as far as I am concerned. Backing the Brit to reach a second Quarter Final and cover the number is the selection.

MY PICKS: David Goffin - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrey Rublev - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Bet365 (2 Units)
Stefanos Tsitsipas - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kyle Edmund - 2.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Diego Sebastian Schwartzman - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 10-9, - 0.66 Units (38 Units Staked, - 1.73% Yield)

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