The Picks: Dubai, Acapulco and Florianópolis


ATP 500 – Dubai

Final: Novak Djokovic vs Tomas Berdych
Time: 10:00 AM ET  – Saturday March 1st
Head to Head: 12-1, Djokovic

Amy’s Pick: How do you pick against Novak Djokovic in this match-up? The last time these two played, in Melbourne earlier this year, and virtually every other time, Djokovic demolished Berdych. (The 2013 Australian Open scoreline is deceptive — it wasn’t that close.) I have to go with Djokovic in straights.

Juan José’s Pick: I’ve seen these two play way too often (I even chronicled their last encounter), and sadly, I’ve seen very little to suggest that Tomas Berdych is picking up any tips on what to do differently against Djokovic. Berdych has no idea how to return Djokovic’s serve and seems mystified by Djokovic’s rally patterns. But that’s not all! Despite the fact that Djokovic can outlast him in most of the rallies they play, Berdych often seems reluctant to pull the trigger with his forehand or backhand, which is borderline criminal. Hence the gory 1-12 head-to-head. Oh, and one other thing: Djokovic is playing pretty well and has won this title three times. After tomorrow’s final, Djokovic will pick up his fourth silver sailing ship, after a 6-2, 7-5 win.

Lindsay’s Pick: After seeing Berdych’s preparation methods, I’m tempted to pick him for the upset. Just kidding. Berdych has had a great week, but Federer gave him some new life when he didn’t really deserve it today. Djokovic won’t be so kind. Djokovic in three.

ATP 500 – Acapulco

Final: David Ferrer vs. Rafael Nadal
Time: 10:00 PM ET  – Saturday March 1st
Head to Head: 16-4, Nadal

Amy’s Pick: Ferrer hasn’t beaten Nadal on clay since 2004. That’s pretty incredible, considering how good Ferrer is against all other players on clay. I also think there’s a bit of a mental block there for Ferrer, and I think that will compensate for any rust in Nadal’s game. While Ferrer is fresh off the best year of his career, I still think Nadal will prevail in this one in three sets.

Juan José’s Pick: Rafael Nadal was very good at outmaneuvering Nicolás Almagro during their entertaining semifinal. What impressed me the most, though, was the way Nadal returned Almagro’s serve, which is one of the best deliveries on tour. Of course, Nadal won’t have to deal with such a weapon when he meets his David Ferrer tomorrow – but the greatest clay court player in history will have two significant challenges: 1) David Ferrer, one of the game’s great returners of serve, will put enormous pressure on Nadal’s service games and 2) Nadal won’t find it that easy to push Ferrer back and create space for his shots on the baseline, since the man from Valencia is an exponentially better mover than the man from Murcia. David Ferrer is leading the tour in matches played and in wins – he’s also one of only two players to already have won two titles this year. The World Number 4 is on a roll, and tomorrow represents a huge opportunity for him to get a quality win against the man who’s deprived him of quite a bit of glory throughout the years. Better opportunities for unlikely wins don’t come that often. Ferrer will hoist that weird pear-shaped trophy after his 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win.

Lindsay’s Pick: I picked Ferrer at the beginning of the week, and I’m going to stick with it. Rafa looked good against Almagro today, but Almagro also played silly tennis at really important times in the match. Ferrer won’t do that. Ferrer got his silliness out of the way when he lost a set to Fognini today. He’ll be all business tomorrow. Nadal might own Roland Garros, but Acapulco is Ferrer’s house. Ferrer in three.

WTA International  – Acapulco

Final: Sara Errani vs. Carla Suárez Navarro
Time: 7:30 PM ET  – Saturday March 1st
Head to Head: 4-3, Errani

Amy’s Pick: While Suarez Navarro has had a great run to the final, Errani has solidified herself as one of the best clay courters on the women’s tour. I expect she will pick up her first title of 2013 in straights.

Juan José’s Pick: Sara Errani has been simply spectacular in Acapulco – right after making a hardcourt final in Dubai the previous week! Jetlag didn’t even come close to bothering the current French Open runner-up, who has yet to lose a set in México, and has only been taken to a tiebreaker once during her run. Carla Suárez Navarro is a good player, plays well on clay, and has some experience in WTA finals (though she’s 0-3 in those). The Spaniard even beat Errani at this year’s Australian Open. Yet none of that will be enough to thwart the World Number 8, who will win 7-5, 6-4.

Lindsay’s Pick: I predict this is going to be a really fun match, as their quarterfinal battle in Paris was one of the most entertaining matches I saw in February. Errani came through that one on a surface that she’s not as comfortable on, so although CSN will push her a bit, she’ll come out on top again. Errani in three.

WTA International  – Florianópolis

Final: Monica Niculescu vs. Olga Puchkova
Time: 6:00 PM ET  – Saturday March 1st
Head to Head: First meeting

Amy’s Pick: Puchkova had a quality three set win over Venus Williams in the semifinals, but she’s played a few longer matches in the last few days. I think it’ll be tough for her not to experience a letdown in the final against the fresher and higher-ranked Niculescu, who destroyed her last three opponents. Niculescu in straights.

Juan José’s Pick: Niculescu and Puchkova have a few things in common: both are 25 years old, and neither has ever won a WTA title. One thing they don’t have in common, though, is time on court this week (as Amy noted). It’s amazing that after her first round tussle with sixth-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues, Niculesco has lost all of nine games total in her next three matches. That’s pretty crazy. I say the Romanian with the crazy shots and awkward spins will take the title in two easy sets, 6-3, 6-2.

Lindsay’s Pick: I don’t have much to say about this final, because if I’m being honest I was traveling a lot this week and haven’t seen Puchkova or Niculescu play all week. However, Puchkova got a great win over a lethargic Venus Williams today, and I expect her to take that confidence and upset the tricky Niculescu in three to win her first title.

One Response

  1. Ashino W. Sushanti
    Ashino W. Sushanti March 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

    That’s another narrow & heavy loss in the semi finals of Dubai! No doubt about that and in my opinion Federer lost it mentally (all the advantages to close it out in 2 were with him), and sadly you could see how the pressure was mounting on him, and – yes – it took a toll on his game in the third set.

    His confidence as a player has really suffered and has been exposing some kind of vulnerability since the last third of 2012, which undermines his ability to stay focus and produce some clutch tennis at crunch times. (Especially in the ATP World Masters final for instance, and it has been hurting Fed since!) For a while now Roger’s nerves & concentration no longer made of steel, unfortunately!

    This ought to be a wakeup call for Federer because he’s in danger to squander his intimidation factor and sending the wrong signal to ALL (not just the other big three) players. Something must be changed!!

    Even so he’s still able to play some magical shots or to dominate at times his inconsistency has created a big question mark over the mental state of this game.

    More often it’s rather painful to watch how prone to simple unforced errors he has become. To many easy gifts for his opponents. As soon as the rally starts you know the longer it will last the bigger the chance for his rival to capitalize on that. For months he isn’t capable of consistently serving well enough or great when necessary in long matches (the only reason why he lost the fifth set to Murray IMO, USO 2012). Then he seems to me a bit slower than usual, why? So, what does change physically? Aging? Is it his troubling back and logical then his overall shape? I’ve read something about that in the Italian tennis press.

    If so, what can be done??!! Should he require a change in his team? Other treatments? Something isn’t working! Perhaps, a different approach to increase his fitness level? Right now, most important(if possible)seems to bring back a more reliable serve, his old foot work & clutch mentality means confidence?!

    Does he have a problem with devotion and/or commitment, currently? Some private issues may go on behind his private facade, who knows?!

    Obviously, his mental determination has been lacking from some sort of insecurities in recent months. Sure is now HE NEEDS some big wins to gain confidence to restore old levels. And to do so – I really think he must answer some hard question, because if he moves on like this it might get out of his hands, quite literally.

    Remember Sampras, before he got his glorious finish, there were two long years of utter misery. Let’s hope Fed will have a good firm look at himself in the mirror.

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