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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 18th)

There are always going to be some ups and downs over the course of eleven months when you are making daily Tennis Picks from the Tour.

That was the case on Monday, although the frustration of being able to pick two players who ended up dominating the break point chances but did not win or cover will have hurt. To make it more disappointing, the fact that neither player lost more points than their opponent in their First Round matches will have really stung.

However it wasn't a complete write off of a day and there is plenty of chances to turn the week around. I have had slow starts and ended up with winning weeks already in 2020 and I will be looking for this week to do the same without chasing anything.

Over the last thirty months the system used has worked well to provide big profits and I will look to keep that going as long as it continues to be successful.

There are a lot of matches to come on Tuesday as the majority of First Round matches in the four tournaments being played are set to get onto the courts. However I have found selections hard to come by in Dubai and Marseille and any Tennis Picks from Rio de Janeiro and Delray Beach will be added to this thread.

Elina Svitolina - 1.5 games v Jennifer Brady: Playing over in Thailand and travelling to Dubai might not be ideal, but Elina Svitolina should have had enough time to adjust from the flight and the changing time zone. More worrying for the Ukrainian may be the continued slow start made to the 2020 season which saw her upset in the Quarter Final in Hua Hin a few days ago.

Being back in these surroundings may also help Elina Svitolina who has won the title here in 2017 and 2018 and last season was a Semi Finalist. The conditions should suit her game, but Svitolina will know she has to be stronger if she is going to have another good run in Dubai.

A loaded main draw means there are not likely to be too many easy matches for any player heading into this tournament. With that in mind Elina Svitolina can't afford to make a slow start when facing off against American Jennifer Brady who has been a comfortable hard court player and made a good start to the 2020 season and with three Qualifying wins in Dubai to give her further confidence.

The Brady serve has been a big weapon for her and makes her dangerous for any opponent to face, although I do think the overall numbers are aided by facing a number of lower Ranked players already in 2020. Jennifer Brady does have a win over Ashleigh Barty this season which has to be respected, but her service numbers are significantly down from the overall mark when considering matches against top 50 Ranked opponents alone.

In this First Round match Brady is facing an opponent who is a decent return player on the hard courts and I think Elina Svitolina will be able to at least make her mark on the return games. The bigger question might be about the Svitolina serve which has been a struggle in the opening seven weeks of the season, although I do expect her to be aided by the relatively poor return numbers Jennifer Brady has had against those top 50 Ranked opponents that have been faced.

These two have met once before back in 2016, but that match should not have a major impact on the way this one goes. Conditions in Dubai might help Jennifer Brady if she gets into a strong rhythm serving, but I do think Elina Svitolina should have enough about her to come through with a win and a cover.

I do think the Brady return game may hinder her chances of an upset in the First Round, although it might need three competitive sets to get the job done for the higher Ranked players.

Belinda Bencic - 1.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: The top of the WTA Rankings move all the time, but I was still a little surprised to see Belinda Bencic at Number 4 in the World. The start to 2020 has not really backed up that World Ranking and another relatively early loss in St Petersburg means the Swiss player will be looking for a bounce back in Dubai.

Playing in this tournament means accepting that there are no easy matches and Bencic has been put together with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the First Round. The Russian has never quite done enough to crack the top 10 of the World Rankings in her career and she is down at Number 31 coming into this tournament, but Pavlyuchenkova did reach the Quarter Final at the Australian Open last month.

She is playing her first tournament since Melbourne, but the strong showing there will give Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova confidence after beating two top 20 Ranked opponents in the first Grand Slam of the season. However it does have to be said that her numbers to open 2020 have continued to be relatively average on the hard courts and that should give Belinda Bencic the chance to put a good win on the board.

We all know that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has a very good first serve that can set up some easy points, and she has been getting a high percentage of first serves in play which makes her a bit more dangerous. That is doubled up by the fact that Belinda Bencic can be a little disappointing when it comes to the return, although the head to head shows the Swiss player seemingly gets a better read of what Pavlyuchenkova is trying to do with the serve.

Those head to heads lean heavily in favour of Bencic who has won two of the three previous hard court matches between these players too. In the last two Bencic has created a lot more break points and I do think her serve could be the superior shot in this match too which gives her the chance to win and cover the line on her way through to the Second Round.

Her early season form is a touch disappointing, but the numbers are being hurt by two one-sided losses and in the last week in St Petersburg Belinda Bencic looked to be turning her form. With the head to head and the successes she has had on the return compared with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, I will look for the top ten player to win here.

Karen Khachanov - 2.5 games v Aljaz Bedene: There might be quite a few matches scheduled to be played in Marseille on Tuesday, but the only First Round match that fits the criteria for my Tennis Picks comes from the last one that is scheduled to be played.

Both Aljaz Bedene and Karen Khachanov will feel they can have a strong run in the tournament if they can come through this First Round match. There is enough to like from their early season form to believe they can get this done too, although it is Khachanov who may have the mental edge having won all three previous matches between these players, albeit all of them coming on the clay courts.

Those matches were also played at a time when Khachanov was still making his initial breakthrough on the Tour, but he is now an established top 20 Ranked player. The Russian may have had some of the limelight taken away by the performances of Daniil Medvedev over the last six months, and Karen Khachanov has not played as well in opening tournaments as he would have liked, but the numbers have been solid enough.

He will be disappointed that he is not getting a little more out of the serve having opened 2020 with holds of serve in 83% of games played on the hard courts. Where Karen Khachanov has played well is in return games having produced breaks of serve in 22% of return games which is significantly better than Aljaz Bedene's mark.

If the Bedene return was a little stronger he would have a much better record than his 5-5 hard court record so far this week, but confidence should be high having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas last week in Rotterdam. He might not be one of the taller players on the Tour, but Bedene has got a lot out of his serve and that has led to 87% of service games being held to open the season.

The numbers on that side are strong and need to be respected, but it has been tougher over the last twelve months when facing top 50 Ranked opponents on the hard courts. I do have to respect the fact that Aljaz Bedene's serve has been tough to break down, but I also think the slightly superior returning of Karen Khachanov can see him use his own serve to pressure the Slovenian into potentially giving up a couple of chances to break.

It will be important for Karen Khachanov to serve well and perhaps break down any confidence that Aljaz Bedene picked up last week in Rotterdam, but he can do that and that might be key to the outcome of this one. The Russian can use his power and success as Marseille Champion in 2018 to give him the edge in this First Round match.

MY PICKS: Elina Svitolina - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Belinda Bencic - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Karen Khachanov - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Miomir Kecmanovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-3, - 2.74 Units (10 Units Staked, - 27.40% Yield)

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