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Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 25th)

Without a doubt I have just been through the worst week in three years for the Tennis Picks which meant I needed to take a couple of days off to really reset.

It can be a mental strain when you feel like you are having the kind of luck I was last week (four players lost matches in which they won more points which is really is tough to take over the course of a month let alone a few days), while multiple times I can up short by a game here or there.

Things can be frustrating and especially when it has almost completely wiped out the season totals that had been built through the first seven weeks of the season. I have no doubt that the system is still a solid one and I was not chasing anything, but I do hope to see some better fortune in the remainder of this week and going into the short break before Indian Wells and Miami Masters events get going.

But as I have said many times through the good and the bad, the season is a long one and it is all about bouncing back from a setback and looking for a better all around effort. This week we have three really big events being played in Acapulco, Dubai and Doha and there is no reason to want to beat yourself up for one truly horrific week in three seasons. The last time this happened was in Indian Wells in 2017 and it was the kind of week which made me change direction with the selections that paid dividends ever since.

I am not convinced I need to do that yet, but some adjustments should always be made to try and stay ahead of the curve and make sure we have a lot more profits than negative returns from these selections.

I will be looking for a much better week beginning with Tuesday Tennis selections. I will update the season totals on Wednesday when updating this thread with any selections from the tournament being played in Acapulco this week.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Benoit Paire: The First Round continues in Dubai where the ATP Tour have taken over from the WTA Tour and this is an interesting match between Marin Cilic and Benoit Paire. Both players might already have seen their best tennis days behind them, but both have played at a higher level to open the 2020 season compared with how they were performing in 2019.

Of course it is still a long season coming up and there will be some difficult moments, but Marin Cilic and Benoit Paire have to be encouraged by what they have done so far. Neither has had a very good month to be honest, but I do think the overall performances have not been too bad.

There does look to be a slight edge with Marin Cilic in the match having held 88% of his service games on the hard courts compared with Benoit Paire's 82% mark. In recent years the Frenchman has struggled to hold more than 80% of the service games played on this surface and I do think Cilic has the edge on that side of his game.

To double down on it, Cilic has also been the superior return player of the two although we have seen Benoit Paire produce the better numbers in 2020 so far. The two players have won a similar percentage of return points, but Benoit Paire has managed breaks in 22% of return games compared with Marin Cilic's 17% mark.

The numbers have been tighter when Benoit Paire has been facing opponents Ranked in the top 100 and I do think the head to head can come into play in this match too. Marin Cilic has won five of the previous six matches between these players and four of those wins have come on the hard courts including at the Australian Open last month.

It is Marin Cilic who has held 87% of the service games played on the hard courts between these players and that is compared to Benoit Paire being at 73% mark. Even at the Australian Open it was Cilic winning 87% of service games played compared with Paire's 75% number and I do think the Croatian can come out on top in this First Round match with the conditions in Dubai likely to suit him a little more than the flashy Frenchman too.

Hubert Hurkacz - 2.5 games v Alexander Bublik: Only four months separate these two young players on the Tour who are hoping that they are going to be able to make a significant impact over the course of the 2020 season. Hubert Hurkacz has just turned 23 years old and will be joined by Alexander Bublik in June and both are Ranked inside the top 50 in the World Rankings.

Both can point to one run to the Semi Finals on the hard courts already in 2020, although Bublik's run came last week in Marseille where he was downed by eventual Champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. Neither player has really had a consistent season, but both have hit peak career Rankings this month as they prepare to progress on the Tour.

There are very similar numbers being produced by Hubert Hurkacz and Alexander Bublik on the serve with both winning 63% of points behind that shot. At the moment it is Hurkacz who has been able to secure a very slightly higher percentage of games behind serve, but the real difference maker may be on the returning side of the sport where the Pole looks to be significantly stronger.

It is Hurkacz who has been breaking in 22% of return games compared with Bublik who is down at below 16% and that may be where this match is won and lost.

Alexander Bublik's returning numbers take another dent when playing top 50 Ranked opponents, but that has not been the case for Hubert Hurkacz. I do think the latter needs to work out how to get a little more out of his serve against the better players he meets on the Tour, but in general that feels like an area that may be easier to improve than the return like Bublik has to work out.

There also hasn't been a lot of time for Bublik to recover from his exploits in Marseille on Saturday and be able to head over to Dubai and acclimatise here. That may be another factor in this First Round match and I will look for Hubert Hurkacz to win and cover the mark.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: This is only the second tournament Roberto Bautista Agut is playing since the Australian Open and he was disappointed to lose early in Rotterdam this month. He was the better player on the day, but Bautista Agut is going to have to be strong from the off when he begins his campaign in Dubai.

He is the favourite to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the First Round as the German has lost three matches in a row. We do see Struff at close to his career best World Ranking, but it has been a difficult start to 2020 where he is holding 82% of service games played and broken in 20% of return games.

The draws have not really helped his cause, but Struff can serve very well on his day which will make him dangerous.

Roberto Bautista Agut will feel his own serve can at least put Struff on the back-foot in this one and keep him under some pressure. The Spaniard has held in 86% of service games played on the hard courts in 2019 and that mark has been slightly improved to 87% in 2020 which has allowed Bautista Agut to let his stronger return game take over.

Over the last fourteen months Bautista Agut has broken in 25% of return games played on the hard courts and that is a mark that is significantly stronger than this opponent. It should give Bautista Agut a strong opportunity to win this match and cover the handicap mark, especially when you think of how previous matches have gone between these players.

They haven't met since 2018 so you do have to keep in mind the improvements that Jan-Lennard Struff has made, but Roberto Bautista Agut has won all three previous matches between these two. In those it is Bautista Agut who has held 88% of the service games played compared with Struff's mark of 48% and the Spaniard may be too strong for him here.

I expect Struff to have much better service numbers than he has in previous matches against Bautista Agut, but it still may not be good enough against the in-form top 20 Ranked player.

Iga Swiatek - 2.5 games v Svetlana Kuznetsova: She may remain a pretty strong hard court player, but Svetlana Kuznetsova has been dealing with injuries over the last eighteen months which has limited her time on the court. A dominant win in the First Round will have given the veteran some confidence, but this is a very tough match against an up and coming player on the Tour who looks capable of going as far as she wants.

Iga Swiatek beat Donna Vekic in straight sets in the First Round and at 18 years old she has already cracked the top 50 of the World Rankings. Injuries ended her 2019 season a little early, but Swiatek has returned in 2020 in good form and her numbers over the last twelve months on the hard courts have been impressive.

She has an underrated serve and I do think this is going to be a big part of her game going forward as she develops further. It is a weapon that is well backed by Iga Swiatek's return game and I do think it will put her in a position to win this Second Round match.

I do have to respect the way Svetlana Kuznetsova has been able to perform on this surface and I do think she will have her successes within this match. The Russian still has a strong first serve, but her second serve has been vulnerable in the matches played in 2020 and I do think that is an area in which Iga Swiatek can have her way with Kuznetsova.

Both players have had similar return numbers, but Iga Swiatek has a slight advantage over Svetlana Kuznetsova in that department too and I do think the younger player is going to have the edge in this match. It might go three sets with the tennis that Kuznetsova can produce at times, but Iga Swiatek may still have too much for her and can cover this number.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Hubert Hurkacz - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Iga Swiatek - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sofia Kenin - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Alison Van Uytvanck + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Elise Mertens - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Season 2020: + 0.52 Units (325 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

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