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Friday, 14 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 14th)

A busy week is coming to a conclusion, but Friday remains a very busy day with twenty matches scheduled across the five tournaments as we get down to the Quarter Final Round at all of the events that are being played.

The quality of matches should be pretty good throughout the day when you think most players have the confidence of wins behind them and there is a good opportunity for big Ranking points to be picked up. The tournaments are largely looking quite open having seen some of the favourites already beaten, and that also makes things interesting with some competitive looking matches out there on Friday.

The Tennis Picks through Thursday have yet to be completed at the time of writing and some of the markets for the Quarter Final matches have yet to be put together. That means I may add a couple of selections on Friday when I will update the season totals too.

Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v Daniel Evans: The form that these two players have shown in their first two wins in Rotterdam suggests this is going to be a very good match between Gael Monfils and Daniel Evans. Both have been very deserving winners in the two wins they have put on the board, while Gael Monfils will have the additional confidence that comes from winning a title in Montpellier last week and being the defending Champion here in Rotterdam too.

That doesn't mean he is going to be able to breeze past opponents despite being a strong winner against Joao Sousa and Gilles Simon. In this Quarter Final he has to deal with the hot serving that Daniel Evans has produced as he looks to set a new career best World Ranking at the end of the tournament.

The British player has held serve in 92% of service games played here in Rotterdam so far this week and he has won well over 70% of service points played which makes it very hard to put him under pressure. However Evans is now facing Gael Monfils who has broken in more than half of the return games played and who has regularly been a solid enough returner on the Tour with his athleticism meaning he can get more balls back in play than opponents may expect.

Gael Monfils will feel there is room for improvement behind the serve, and that is going to be tested by Evans in this match. This week has been a touch more difficult for Daniel Evans when it comes to converting breaks, but in general it is a strength of his game on the hard courts and he will believe he can frustrate his opponent into errors in what looks like a good match.

Their previous meeting was narrowly won by Gael Monfils when they met a little under three years ago in Dubai. Conditions indoors are a little different, but it is surroundings in which the Frenchman has played well and it may give him enough of an edge to come away with the win.

It is hard to imagine Daniel Evans maintaining his number on the serve that he has produced so far this week, and especially not against Gael Monfils returning the ball as he has been. That might be the difference between the players with the superior returning helping Monfils through to the Semi Final and I will look for him to do enough to cover this mark.

Andrey Rublev - 3.5 games v Filip Krajinovic: With the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas out of the running, Andrey Rublev may just be the favourite to win another title in 2020. He had a strong first month of the season and the Russian has been as strong as anyone out there on the hard courts over the last twelve months, although he is perhaps still looking for a stand out win or two.

All the youngster wants to do is continue to show signs of improvement and his numbers to open 2020 have been very, very impressive. The serve has been a potent weapon for him so far and that has been the case in the two wins recorded this week in Rotterdam as Rublev has held every service game he has played.

More impressive is the fact that he has yet to face a break point and he rightly goes into this Quarter Final as the favourite. Andrey Rublev has been winning 40% of return points and broken in 26% of return games on the hard courts in 2020, but he has improved both marks this week and his overall game looks in a perfect place.

He will be facing Filip Krajinovic who has also had a solid enough start to 2020, but the Serbian was a little fortunate to come through his Second Round match. I can't read too much into his First Round win over a local Wild Card who is Ranked at Number 172 in the World, although the win over Vasek Pospisil is more impressive considering the form of the Canadian.

In saying that I have mentioned that Krajinovic was a touch fortunate having saved eight of the nine break points faced in the Second Round. Filip Krajinovic only won five more points overall in that win over Pospisil, and his serve has simply not been as effective as the one that Andrey Rublev brings to the court.

They have split two previous meetings on the hard courts, but the more recent one saw Andrey Rublev crush Filip Krajinovic at the Davis Cup in November 2019. In that match Krajinovic struggled to get a handle on the Rublev serve, while his own was attacked with huge success for the Russian.

It might not be as comfortable as the Davis Cup win was, but I still think Andrey Rublev can get the better of Filip Krajinovic and he can cover the mark too.

Miomir Kecmanovic v Ugo Humbert: Winning a title in Auckland means Ugo Humbert has made a strong start to 2020, but he has subsequently lost in First Round matches at the Australian Open and in Montpellier. Earning a bye through to the Second Round here where Humbert crushed Marcos Giron will at least be a boost for the Frenchman, but he is facing an opponent who has looked good so far this week.

Strong serving has been what we have come to expect from Miomir Kecmanovic in the last couple of years on the hard courts and it has been no different to begin the 2020 season. This week he has held in 88% of the service games he has played and Kecmanovic has been freed up on the return of serve to really make sure he wins matches with some relative comfort.

The return of serve has been an improving part of the Kecmanovic game, although it is going to be severely tested by Ugo Humbert if he continues to perform as he has been. Coming from the lefty stance already gives Humbert some edge and he has held 86% of service games played on the hard courts in 2020.

It has allowed the Frenchman to have some freedom on the return of serve himself and it will be interesting to see which of these players can put their stamp on this match on that side of their game. In the overall numbers it is Miomir Kecmanovic who looks to have a slight advantage, but backing that up is the head to head between these two players.

They met twice in 2019, once on the grass and once on the hard courts, and it was Miomir Kecmanovic who won both matches. In the two matches combined, Kecmanovic held 94% of service games played, but it is the return numbers which have really impressed as he has restricted Ugo Humbert to holding just 63% of the service games he has played.

When they met on the hard courts seven months ago, Ugo Humbert was comfortably dismissed as he created a single break point and only won 50% of points behind serve and was broken four times.

There has been some strong performances from Ugo Humbert this year, but that head to head advantage can't be ignored. Miomir Kecmanovic has been playing well enough to back as the underdog and I think he has every chance of moving into the Semi Final if he can serve as he has been doing.

Thiago Monteiro - 3.5 games v Pedro Sousa: Any time you receive a Lucky Loser spot into the main draw of a tournament it has to feel like you are playing with 'house money'. That is how Pedro Sousa must be approaching things in Buenos Aires this week as he reached the Quarter Final but all but one of his four matches have been played against players Ranked outside the top 100.

The other was against the World Number 99 and while Thiago Monteiro has yet to crack the top 70 in the World Rankings, he is a player who has always shown considerable form when the Golden Swing heads to South America. A title win in a Challenger event was followed by an early defeat in Cordoba last week, but Monteiro has two solid looking wins here already and confidence has to be high.

So far in 2020, Monteiro has won 68% of the service points played behind serve on the clay courts and he has won 40% against the opponent's serve. Those numbers have been steady in the two wins he has had in Buenos Aires, but here Thiago Monteiro is holding in 90% of service games played and broken in 30% of return games and that includes upsetting Borna Coric in the Second Round.

Pedro Sousa rode his luck at times in his win in the Second Round, and his numbers on the clay courts have long been relatively average which is underlined by his World Ranking being down at Number 145. He was beaten early at a Challenger event on the clay and failed to win a Qualifier in Cordoba last week which suggests he has been overachieving by reaching the Quarter Final here this week.

The Portuguese player has been a lot more efficient when it comes to having break point than when facing them in the two matches in the main draw here in Buenos Aires. Even then Sousa is holding just 75% of his service games and breaking in 29% of return games during this tournament and you do feel the break point numbers are going to drop backwards.

He has saved fourteen of the last seventeen break points faced, while taking five of the eighteen he has created. Pedro Sousa will have been given some confidence by his wins, but Thiago Monteiro is playing at a higher level and I think that will see the Brazilian prove to be too good on the day.

They did meet in Rio de Janeiro last year on the clay courts and it was Monteiro who won relatively easily despite being involved in a match where breaks came thick and fast. The service games being played by Thiago Monteiro this season suggests he won't be as weak behind the serve this week and he looks a decent back to cover the line being set for this one.

MY PICKS: Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrey Rublev - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Miomir Kecmanovic @ 2.20 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Thiago Monteiro - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Casper Ruud - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Pablo Carreno Busta @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Saisai Zheng - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Elena Rybakina - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Andreas Seppi @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Ignacio Londero @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 14-12, + 0.82 Units (52 Units Staked + 1.58% Yield)

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