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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 20th)

What a terrible week this one has been!

That's the biggest takeaway I can have with so many bad breaks that is beginning to feel like I've run over ten black cats and walked under a hundred ladders.

An eleven month season is going to have the ups and downs, but this is far below the standards I have set for the last two and a half seasons and I will be looking at Thursday as potentially being the last day of Tennis Picks for this week if things keep going into the 'weird zone'.

At some point the strong numbers that continue to be returned have to produce more winners than losers, but I am not into chasing a bad beat and so another poor day on Thursday will mean I will look to reset and get back to the Tennis Picks at the start of next week.

Let's see how it goes and whether this week is just one coming out of the Twilight Zone.

Daniil Medvedev - 3.5 games v Jannik Sinner: In the years ahead once the 'Big Three' have perhaps hung up their racquets, it would not be a major surprise to see Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner taking on one another at the business end of the Grand Slams. Both look talented enough to win Major prizes, although it is clear that Medvedev is someway further down the line in his career than his Italian opponent.

That is not a major surprise when you think that Daniil Medvedev is five years older than Sinner and the Russian has already reached the Final of a Grand Slam tournament when doing that at the US Open last September. Daniil Medvedev might be a little disappointed with his performance at the Australian Open last month and he was beaten in his first match in Rotterdam last week, but I expect better from him as he gets set to play this Second Round match in Marseille.

At the end of the day the numbers have remained strong for Medvedev and he can play at a level that may be tough to match for Jannik Sinner despite the obvious talent the Italian player has. A solid win in the First Round will have made Sinner feel good after a good run at Rotterdam last week, but there is still some inconsistency in his play which is not a massive surprise as he finds his feet at a higher level than the Challenger and Qualifying events that Sinner was formerly playing at.

So far in 2020 Jannik Sinner has won 62% of his service points played and he has held in 77% of his service games played on the hard courts which are reasonable marks, but nothing that should intimidate Daniil Medvedev. His return game is up alongside the very best on the ATP Tour and breaks in 29% of return games played on this surface suggests he will be able to at least put Sinner under some real pressure.

There is a real difference in the way the two players have been returning on the Tour and Jannik Sinner has struggled to a break in 19% of return games played on this surface. That might be good enough against some opponents, but against someone who can return serve like Daniil Medvedev can then it is a mark that can be exposed.

I think this will be a good match with some strong tennis played by both, but you do have to think Daniil Medvedev can edge out Jannik Sinner with at least one break more in each of the two sets that are likely needed to be played in this Second Round match.

Marin Cilic v Denis Shapovalov: 2019 was a difficult year for Marin Cilic, but he has looked like he could have a bounce back year this time around. The Croatian is back for the first time since the Australian Open where he reached the Fourth Round and he came from a set down to deservedly move into the Second Round here in Marseille.

The match up is much tougher in this Round, but Denis Shapovalov has been struggling for his form. The young Canadian is a definite star going forward, but he has lost four matches in a row which includes defeats in his first match played in both Montpellier and Rotterdam.

Those will have dented some of the confidence and Shapovalov has really been struggling in a number of facets of his game. Despite winning 65% of service points behind serve, the Canadian is holding in 80% of the games being played which is putting a lot of pressure on a return game which has still got a lot of room for improvement.

Over the last twelve months Denis Shapovalov has broken in 16% of return games played on the hard courts, but that number has slipped to 9% in 2020 which is not going to win too many matches. He has not been creating too many break point opportunities in recent matches and that is a real concern, although Denis Shapovalov did crush Marin Cilic when these two met at Indian Wells eleven months ago.

That came at a time when Shapovalov looked to be in better form overall though and Marin Cilic has opened 2020 in decent shape. He is serving very well which can at least keep his younger opponent under the cosh and Cilic has broken in 19% of return games which is considerably better than the mark Denis Shapovalov has produced in the last seven weeks.

It could be the key to the outcome of this match and I do think Marin Cilic can be backed as the underdog in this Second Round match in Marseille. At some point Denis Shapovalov will get back to winning ways and producing solid runs in events, but Marin Cilic may have enough of an edge here on both the serve and return to just get over the line and move into the Friday Quarter Final.

Dominic Thiem - 4.5 games v Juame Munar: A return to the clay courts will be welcomed by Juame Munar, but even then it has been a difficult time for the Spaniard during the South American Golden Swing. He has been struggling for consistency, and Munar will know the kind of test that is in front of him when facing an opponent who has reached multiple French Open Finals on this surface.

Dominic Thiem is playing in his first tournament since coming up a little short in the Australian Open Final last month as he could not quite convert a 2-1 lead in sets to a first Slam title. It is no surprise he has taken a couple of weeks off from the Tour to recharge the mental batteries more than anything else as Thiem managed to win some big matches Down Under before finding Novak Djokovic just a little too good on the day.

He is a usual name we see when the Golden Swing hits South America and Thiem will be pleased he was pushed a little bit on the First Round here in Rio de Janeiro as it will have got the competitive spirit bubbling. Dominic Thiem was still largely dominant against a local prospect and the Austrian has been able to get a lot out of his serve on the clay courts which has always put opponents under pressure to try and respond.

To really step up and perhaps win a Grand Slam on the clay courts you might want to see Thiem pick up his level on the return of serve. On this surface you would like to think he can improve the 29% mark of return games in which Thiem has broken serve and that will be especially important just to make life easier in some matches.

This could be a match in which we see that as Dominic Thiem has beaten Juame Munar twice before on the clay courts and has managed to break serve in 42% of return games played. At the same time he has barely been threatened on his own serve by the Spaniard and nothing we have seen so far in 2020 gives much encouragement for Munar here.

Juame Munar is holding just 68% of the service games played on the clay courts in 2020 and over the last twelve months that number is 75%. While that is ok against many, it doesn't bode well against someone like Thiem who has managed to get himself into comfortable positions in the head to head between them.

Borna Coric - 3.5 games v Thiago Seyboth Wild: There are a number of younger players on the ATP Tour who have looked like they are close to breaking through and giving the 'Big Three' players something new to think about. Others have flashed their potential, but could be left behind as the 'Next Gen' continues to develop and I do think 2020 is an important season for Borna Coric.

There is no doubting the talent that Coric possesses, but at 23 years old he needs to have a bounce back from what was an injury hit and loss of form 2019. It was a season much below the kind of level the Croatian had produced in 2018 and a poor start to 2020 is not very encouraging.

Over the last twelve months the clay courts have proven to be his most effective surface so this Golden Swing in South America is an important time for Borna Coric. An early loss in Buenos Aires was very disappointing, but Coric had a very good win over Juan Ignacio Londero in the First Round here in Rio and that should give him a boost to take into this Second Round match where he is a significant favourite to progress.

Borna Coric won't just be battling someone across the court from him, but Thiago Seyboth Wild is going to have plenty of support from his compatriots in this match. The youngster is turning 20 years old next month, but Seyboth Wild has yet to really make an impact on the Tour that he would have liked and his clay court numbers are largely fairly average despite playing at a lower level than the one he will see in Rio for the majority of his career.

Thiago Seyboth Wild did have a win as an underdog in the First Round, but it was a very close match against some Ranked considerably lower down the World Rankings than Borna Coric. The Brazilian was on the court for almost four hours which is incredible and Seyboth Wild is going to be challenged by Borna Coric who has the stronger serve and the superior returning on this surface.

This is also the first time Seyboth Wild is going to be taking on an opponent Ranked inside the top 50 of the World Rankings and the step up might be too much with fatigue a potential issue too. I think Borna Coric will be better for the win over a solid clay courter in Londero a couple of days ago and he can win this match and cover a big looking mark for someone who has been in mixed form.

MY PICKS: Daniil Medvedev - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Marin Cilic @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 4.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Borna Coric - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Aryna Sabalenka - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-13, - 19.48 Units (34 Units Staked, - 57.29% Yield)

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