Featured post

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 18th)

The next couple of days look a little iffy as far as the weather goes, but I think there is going to be enough time to get the matches throu...

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 27th)

With just four days to go before Wimbledon gets underway the Seedings have been released, not without controversy, and the draws will be made on Friday morning.

Those players involved in the tournaments played in Antalya and Eastbourne will be focusing on finishing this week with a title as we are down to the Quarter Final matches at all of those events. The WTA event in Eastbourne is of particular importance as it could lay a marker for Wimbledon, while there are important Ranking points on offer in the two ATP events being played even if none of the players in the last eight are really expected to have a big showing in SW19 over the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday ended up being a successful day with two of the three completed Tennis Picks coming back as winners. I did have some fortune when Jelena Ostapenko retired after her early struggles, but the hope is that the Latvian is going to recover in time for Wimbledon and she only pulled out as a precaution after looking like she was struggling with her movement.

It has been a decent week so far, but I am looking to push on with the end of the tournaments before the full concentration can shift to Wimbledon. The first two Grand Slam events have provided positive numbers, but keeping that going will be the goal through another tournament.

Alize Cornet v Ons Jabeur: This is not the Quarter Final anyone would have expected when the draw was made last week, but both Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur have deserved their spot in the last eight. The decision made by Ashleigh Barty to withdraw from the tournament has helped both of these players, but both have also beaten Seeded players and that should mean there is a real confidence in the play.

In each of the first three matches here so far this week, Ons Jabeur has been showing improvement and she comfortably dismissed an out of sorts Johanna Konta in the Third Round.

The serve has been working pretty effectively so far this week and Jabeur has also shown a little more impact on the return in Eastbourne. However the general numbers in 2019 on the grass courts have not been that impressive and I do wonder if Jabeur can keep up the standard she is at right now.

Like her opponent in this Quarter Final, Jabeur has not had a lot of grass court pedigree in recent years, but this is usually over a small sample of matches. Alize Cornet had also been struggling on the surface, but she has looked very good in Eastbourne and I do believe she is going to have the narrow edge.

The Frenchwoman has gotten more out of the first serve than Jabeur and she has also been returning more effectively with over 50% of return points being won. That number is significantly higher than Jabeur's 44% in Eastbourne, but the Tunisian has had the edge when it comes to the second serve and I do think that is going to make her very competitive.

However I think Cornet's performances should have seen her go into this Quarter Final as a stronger favourite than she is. I do have some reservations about backing Cornet because of her recent past of having a lack of success on the grass courts, but she has looked the better player this week and it has to be noted that Jabeur has also been exceeding her usual levels on this surface.

It might need three sets to separate them, but I will back Cornet to come out on top in this one.

Angelique Kerber-Simona Halep over 21.5 games: There is every chance a match like this one could be gracing Wimbledon at the business end of that tournament in two weeks time. Before we get to that, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep will be looking to lay down a marker for the third Grand Slam of the season as they get set to face off in the Quarter Final in Eastbourne.

This is going to be the eleventh time Kerber and Halep are meeting on the Tour and the second time they are going to play each other on the grass courts. Matches between them have been very competitive and there really isn't a lot to separate them and half of their previous ten matches have needed to go the distance.

The sole meeting on grass took place at Wimbledon in 2016 and was won by Kerber in two tight sets as both players showed off their returning strength throughout that match. We could see more of the same on Thursday in this Quarter Final as both players are very comfortable on the return side of their game while perhaps not having the most telling of serves.

So far this week Angelique Kerber has had the edge when it comes to the serve as she has won plenty of points behind both first and second serves. Simona Halep has not had quite the same numbers, but she is serving well enough too and the Romanian will be looking at the 51% return points won compared to the 42% won by Kerber this week as being a potential difference maker in her favour.

Over the last couple of years I do think Kerber has been the superior grass court player of the two and she won the title at Wimbledon for the first time last season. The German is also a former Runner Up in SW19 and that does make her an appealing selection as the underdog in this match, although Halep has had the slight edge when it comes to the head to head and was a very close loser in their one previous grass court match.

My expectation is that we are going to see a close match and I would not be that surprised if a third set is needed to separate them as has been the case in half of their previous matches. Even two tight sets like they played at Wimbledon in 2016 will be enough to cover the total games line in this one and that is going to be my selection in this Quarter Final.

Kiki Bertens - 2.5 games v Aryna Sabalenka: There has been a vast improvement in the performances produced by Kiki Bertens on all surfaces over the last couple of years. She has reached a career high World Number 4 in the Rankings and Bertens has seemingly gotten over the real disappointment of having to pull out of the French Open in the Second Round in Paris.

The Dutchwoman had gone into the French Open as a real favourite to go on and win her first Grand Slam and it does feel like an opportunity was lost when you consider how that tournament panned out. But any lingering regrets have not been shown by Kiki Bertens as she reached the Final in Hertogenbosch and now the Quarter Final in Eastbourne on the grass courts.

This is a surface that has sometimes baffled Bertens, but she does have a game that you would think should translate onto it. A strong serve and an aggressive attitude is a good starting point for any player on the grass courts and it does feel like Bertens is beginning to put that together in the past three weeks.

Kiki Bertens has been in very good form in Eastbourne as she has won her two matches without too many worries and her numbers back that up. The first serve has been a potent weapon for her with plenty of points being won behind that shot both here and on the grass in general in 2019, but it is the 54% of return points won that have really propelled Bertens forward.

That side of her game is going to be tested by Aryna Sabalenka who reached the Final in Eastbourne last year. She was beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in the Final in 2018, but earned a measure of revenge by overcoming the Dane in the Third Round on Wednesday although I do think Sabalenka is going to need to be even better if she is going to reach the Semi Final.

So far this week Sabalenka has been serving very well too, but she has not been able to return quite as effectively as Bertens. The returning is more productive than it has been in the last couple of weeks when Sabalenka suffered early losses in back to back tournaments so she should be a threat to Bertens, but the head to head is 3-0 in favour of the Dutchwoman and I do think the favourite can win this match and cover the number.

When they have played each other, the Bertens serve has been the stronger of the two players and I do think that is likely going to happen here. With a better return being shown in Eastbourne, Kiki Bertens can win and I will back her to come through to a second Semi Final in a row on the grass courts.

MY PICKS: Alize Cornet @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber-Simona Halep Over 21.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 2.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victor Troicki @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-4, + 3.88 Units (22 Units Staked, + 17.64% Yield)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 26th)

The week before a Grand Slam is always an intense one and I am not surprised that a number of players have withdrawn from playing at the tournament in Eastbourne. Some of those have needed a rest after a strong showing last week, while others will not risk any health issues to take into Wimbledon.

However we still have some decent names reaching this stage of the tournaments being played this week and it is a chance for players to lay down a marker for the third Grand Slam of the season. As I mentioned earlier this week, the WTA Eastbourne event is certainly the most eye-catching thanks to the strength of the field they have been able to put together and there are players there who will believe they can ride the momentum from a strong run here into the first week at SW19.

Tuesday was not a very good day for the Tennis Picks which went 2-3 including the two matches that were completed after rain delays forced them to return to the courts after beginning matches on Monday. The good news is that it is still a positive week to now and I am looking to put a good number on the board before turning my attention to the next Slam of the season.

Selections look difficult to make on Wednesday, but I have seen four matches that have fallen within the criteria I have set for the last couple of seasons.

Johanna Konta - 5.5 games v Ons Jabeur: From the outset you have to say that this is a huge number of games for anyone to cover once players have had a couple of matches under their belts, but there are a number of similar spreads in the WTA Eastbourne Third Round matches on Wednesday. The others do seem unappealing on paper, but I do think Johanna Konta has every chance of covering here while continuing her strong form in her home tournament.

It was a difficult match for Konta on Tuesday against Maria Sakkari, but she did enough to edge through in two sets and I do think this is a match a step down from the kind of opposition she faced last time out.

This time Johanna Konta faces Ons Jabeur who was forced to retire from her match last week in Mallorca. That has seemingly not been a lingering issue though as Jabeur has twice come from a set down to win matches this week in what has become an open portion of the draw since Ashleigh Barty withdraw from the tournament.

The Tunisian has regularly shown a solidity on the grass courts without being anything above that. Even her two wins this week have come in close fashion and none of the opponents Jabeur has beaten is anything near the level that Johanna Konta can produce on the grass courts.

This is only the sixth time Jabeur has played a top 50 Ranked opponent on the grass courts and she is 0-5 in those previous matches. The serve is a weapon that can keep Jabeur competitive, but she has struggled with her return of serve and that should be magnified when facing a server like Konta.

I do think it can be difficult to trust Konta to cover this kind of number when you think of the returning stats she produces on the grass courts. This week Konta has won 41% of return points in her two wins, but I do think she can improve on that mark against Jabeur especially if she is seeing plenty of second serves.

In their one sole match back in 2015 Johanna Konta crushed Ons Jabeur for the loss of just four games on a hard court. This one might be a touch closer than that, but Konta is strong enough on the grass to find the three or four breaks of serve she is going to need to cover this mark.

Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 games v Elise Mertens: The former Eastbourne Champion has tended to play her best grass court tennis at this tournament and Karolina Pliskova will be searching for another Quarter Final spot here on Wednesday. She will have been disappointed with the early exit in Birmingham last week, but that was a tough draw for Pliskova who was beaten by her twin sister in the Second Round.

A comfortable win in the Second Round here after a bye in the First Round will have given Karolina Pliskova some confidence to take into this match. However she is going to need more than belief to beat Elise Mertens who has had a good month on the grass leading into this match.

The Belgian has had plenty of success on the grass throughout her career, but it has been a much different story when she has faced top 50 Ranked opponents on the surface. In those matches Mertens is just 4-9 while her entire stats on serve and return have taken a significant hit in those matches as the competition ramps up.

That is certainly going to be the case for Mertens on Wednesday and it will be a really difficult match if Karolina Pliskova continues to serve as big as she has been. The first serve has been a huge weapon for the Czech player so far in her three matches on the grass with almost 80% of points being won behind the first serve.

We should see that number being tested by Mertens who is a strong returner and has the movement to make Pliskova play enough balls to extract mistakes from her game. However I also think that serve is going to make the difference between the players on the day and can help Pliskova win and cover the number.

The Pliskova return has not been the most effective on the grass courts which has to be a concern when asking her to find multiple breaks of serve to cover. My feeling is that she is going to have more joy returning the Mertens serve and Pliskova did win 45% of return points in her win over Margarita Gasparyan in he Second Round to believe in her ability to get the better of this opponent.

Jelena Ostapenko - 2.5 games v Ekaterina Alexandrova: We hadn't seen a lot of grass court pedigree from Ekaterina Alexandrova before the last month and the Russian might be in even stronger form this week than the previous two. Wins over Alja Tomljanovic and Belinda Bencic look very good and confidence has to be high.

Those wins have come behind some very strong serving which has helped Alexandrova put some serious pressure on opponents. She was broken three times by Bencic in the Second Round, but in general the numbers being produced by Alexandrova have to be impressing.

It will be interesting to see how she deals with Jelena Ostapenko who has made it clear she is very much enjoying being back on the grass courts after a difficult year. The results have been strong for the Latvian who has won 50% of her return points played so far this week which has helped make up for some of the loose serving Ostapenko has become known for.

The first serve hasn't been a big problem for Ostapenko, but the second serve can be vulnerable to the point where she pushes too hard and can produce a host of double faults. Giving up free points is not ideal the later you get into a tournament, but the aggressive play Ostapenko produces seems to be well suited to the grass courts and can give her the edge in this match.

As well as Alexandrova has played on the grass over the last couple of weeks, her return has not been as potent as Ostapenko's. The Russian has shown significant improvement on her return compared to previous seasons on the grass, but I think it could be a tough match for her against the Ostapenko first serve.

It feels like it will be a match with a few breaks of serve shared out, but Jelena Ostapenko can continue her strong form shown over the last couple of weeks. Ekaterina Alexandrova has to be respected in her current form, but I am looking for the Ostapenko return to prove to be the key to her success in this match and I will back her to cover.

MY PICKS: Johanna Konta - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jelena Ostapenko - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dan Evans - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-3, + 2.28 Units (16 Units Staked, + 14.25% Yield)

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 25th)

After a very good week that came to an end on Sunday, this week has started in a positive way for the Tennis Picks.

Two more winners were put on the board on Monday, although I was very fortunate with the one involving Jelena Ostapenko. Anastasija Sevastova pulled out of her match with Daria Gavrilova, but the other two selections both were affected by the rain and will have to be completed on Tuesday.

I will say it is going to need something special from Elina Svitolina to turn around her position against Alize Cornet and that is simply to win the match. It is unlikely that she will cover and thus being the first losing selection of this week, while Nicolas Jarry and Pablo Cuevas will begin their match having just missed out on taking to the court on Monday.

Some of the players in the WTA tournament are going to have to play twice on Tuesday to keep the event in Eastbourne on track for a Saturday conclusion, but the weather doesn't look great in the morning and matches are likely going to be pushed back to Wednesday. We should still see enough tennis to ensure the majority of those scheduled for Tuesday are completed, but it is looking a very busy day with a delayed start very likely.

I am adding some selections from the matches to be played in Eastbourne on Tuesday here and I will be hoping those are all able to be completed on the day.

Johanna Konta - 3.5 games v Maria Sakkari: This is going to be the third time Maria Sakkari and Johanna Konta are going to face each other in 2019 and the previous two matches have both needed three sets to determine a winner. However the previous two matches have been on a hard court (Konta won) and on a clay court (Sakkari won) and this time they play on the grass where the British Number 1 should be the more comfortable of the two players.

Back in 2015 Johanna Konta made her first really memorable impact on the Tour when she put a run of wins together in Eastbourne. Her home tournament has been one that Konta has enjoyed over the years and she does tend to produce much better results than when she plays in Birmingham in the lead up to Wimbledon.

Last week Konta suffered another relatively early loss in Birmingham, but she was a strong winner in the First Round here on Sunday. The British player is one of the best grass court players on the Tour and Konta gets a huge amount out of her serve that can put any opponent under pressure.

She faces Maria Sakkari who also had a strong win in the First Round and who came close to beating then World Number 1 Naomi Osaka in Birmingham last week. The Greek player does not have the stand out numbers, but she has the mentality to come through difficult moments and win matches she perhaps shouldn't be and that makes Sakkari dangerous here, especially with the way she has challenged Konta in their two previous matches in 2019.

Maria Sakkari does not get as much out of her serve on the grass as Johanna Konta does, but she is someone who can be very effective once she builds some momentum. The serve is decent enough to cause problems for Konta who has to show some better returning if she is going to win Wimbledon over the next three weeks, but I also think Johanna Konta is going to run through some of her service games.

It does have the making of a kind of match that will see some twists and turns, but the key difference is that I believe Johanna Konta is someone who can win a set with a double break of serve compared with Maria Sakkari. The latter has played well in her two matches with Konta this season, but I think the grass gives the British player a distinct advantage and I will look for her to win and cover the number.

Simona Halep - 2.5 games v Su-Wei Hsieh: It was not the kind of clay court season that Simona Halep would have wanted and she failed to defend the title she won at the French Open in 2018. The Romanian has also dropped down to World Number 7 in the latest Rankings, but revenge is going to be a motivating factor for her on Tuesday when she faces Su-Wei Hsieh.

Last year at Wimbledon Simona Halep created 23 break points against Su-Wei Hsieh but she was not able to take the chances as well as she would have liked and it was Hsieh who earned the upset. For a first match on the grass courts this is a difficult one for Halep who will know she is not going to get the rhythm she will like, but instead Halep is going to have to deal with the slice and dice game Hsieh brings to the table.

The Hsieh return on the grass courts has been a key factor for her successes in recent years as a Singles player. With the slice the ball stays low and it can be very difficult for players to dig those balls out when Hsieh is willing to get to the net and put away volleys.

In her two matches with Halep, Hsieh has also created plenty of opportunity on the return of serve too so this is a match that is expected to feature a lot of break points between the two players. As I have said above, a first match on the grass is a difficult prospect for anyone and Halep is coming in off a disappointing clay court portion of the season when she is expected to be at her best.

However I will also add that Halep is very comfortable on the grass courts and has had some strong results on the surface before. The Romanian has one of the strongest returns on the WTA Tour and I do think Simona Halep will win out when it comes to the number of break points being created.

It does make the handicap mark perhaps a little harder to get a grip of, but I think Halep can cover even in a three set win. Su-Wei Hsieh is a player that can frustrate anyone she plays when at her best and I hate opposing her with big spreads, but this is not one of those numbers and I will look for Halep to win and cover.

Caroline Wozniacki - 4.5 games v Andrea Petkovic: Injury issues have affected Caroline Wozniacki's 2019 season on the court, but she comes to Eastbourne as the defending Champion. She will be very happy being back in the surroundings where she picked up a title, but Wozniacki will also be beaming having recent tied the knot with NBA player David Lee.

A comfortable win over Kirsten Flipkens will be a boost for Wozniacki who had suffered a First Round loss at the French Open. Being back at an event where she won the title will help her get build on the win over Flipkens, although I am a little concerned about the overall health of Wozniacki.

There is room for improvement for Wozniacki who did not win as many points behind her first serve as she would have liked in the First Round, but she did protect the second serve and returned very effectively. Caroline Wozniacki is going to need to show she can step up another level when she takes on Andrea Petkovic who has upset Daria Kasatkina in the First Round.

The German has long had to battle against her health which has seen her drop to Number 70 in the World Ranking having previously reached the top ten. Andrea Petkovic has simply not been as comfortable on the clay courts as Caroline Wozniacki and her second serve has been a serious vulnerability that can keep Petkovic under real pressure.

These two players haven't met since 2015 so I am not sure you can read too much into the head to head, although the fact that Wozniacki has won the last five matches can't be completely set aside. One of those was on the grass courts and I do think Wozniacki is the superior player on this surface as long as she isn't suffering from playing on Monday and being asked to come back out twenty-four hours later.

On the day the difference could be how well each player does on the second serve and I think that is an area where Wozniacki can edge the key points. This is a very big spread when you think of how Wozniacki has been struggling to put the wins together in 2019, but she is the better grass courter and I think her style of play will break down Andrea Petkovic over the course of a couple of sets.

Feliciano Lopez v Pierre-Hugues Herbert: The career looked to be on the downward spiral that would have had Feliciano Lopez contemplating retirement as he slipped outside of the top 100 of the World Rankings. However he will have a completely different mindset after winning the title in Queens for the second time in three years and that has actually seen him rise 60 odd places to Number 53 in the World Rankings.

He was also partnering Andy Murray in the Doubles last week and Lopez picked up another title in that format of the game too. It does mean he has played a lot of tennis over the last seven days and that is perhaps why he is such an underdog in this First Round match in Eastbourne which is played on Tuesday afternoon.

At 37 years old it will have taken a toll on Lopez, but he is facing an opponent in Pierre-Hugues Herbert who reached the Semi Final in Halle last week. The Frenchman is also someone who participates in the Doubles and will be partnering Andy Murray at Wimbledon, but his Quarter Final defeat in that format of the sport last week means he has not been taxed with as much tennis as Lopez has had to play.

In saying that I do think Lopez is someone I want to continue to back having had as much success getting behind the Spaniard last week. In recent years he has been able to back up strong runs to produce another on the grass courts n back to back years.

Feliciano Lopez reached the Final at Queens in 2014 and then won the title in Eastbourne the following week. In 2017 he won the title at Queens after reaching the Final in Stuttgart in the previous week and I do think the grass courts give Lopez the chance to run through his service games without expending as much energy as he would have to on other surfaces.

Over the last couple of weeks Lopez has held just under 95% of the service games he has played compared with Herbert's 82% mark. The Spaniard has also had a slightly superior return game and in recent years we have yet to see the best of Herbert on this surface as a Singles player.

This has also been a difficult match up for Herbert who has broken in just under 3% of return games played against Lopez across three previous matches against him. At the same time Lopez has broken in 10% of return games and i want to back the underdog who has had the superior grass court pedigree of the two player as well as the advantages on the numbers against each other.

I am not ignoring the amount of tennis Lopez had to play last week, but I think that is factored into this price and I will back the Spaniard to win the match.

MY PICKS: Johanna Konta - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 2.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez @ 2.37 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-0, + 5.14 Units (6 Units Staked, + 85.67% Yield)

Monday, 24 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 24th)

Two winners from the three Tennis Picks made from the Finals that were played on Sunday ensured a strong week on the Tour and a bounce back from a disappointing first week of Picks from matches on the grass courts.

To be fair it was more than a bounce back with a very strong return to add to the season totals and this new week has started off well with Johanna Konta comfortably winning her first match in Eastbourne on Sunday too.

Eastbourne has brought together a very strong field from the WTA and this is a tournament that can give someone a lot of momentum to take into Wimbledon which begins in seven days time. The two ATP events being played this week are perhaps lacking some of the star power, but it could be an important week for those taking part. Earning some Ranking points could bode well for tournaments down the line, but none of those player in the two ATP events are really expected to be making an impact at the business end of the next Grand Slam of 2019.

I will be looking to keep the momentum going for the Picks into Wimbledon and pick up from where I left off on Sunday.

Below you can see my selections from the Monday tennis and I have updated the season totals as well as the weekly totals from the two venues running tournaments this week. The Johanna Konta pick that was a winner on Sunday will go down in the weekly totals for the events being run in Antalya and Eastbourne this week.

Jelena Ostapenko - 3.5 games v Mihaela Buzarnescu: Both Jelena Ostapenko and Mihaela Buzarnescu have had difficult twelve months on the Tour which means neither is going to head to Wimbledon as a Seeded player. Things may change if players ahead of them can't compete in SW19, but both players will be looking at their last year and believing there is plenty of room for improvement.

Jelena Ostapenko showed some very strong signs in Birmingham last week as she prepares to defend her Semi Final run at Wimbledon from 2018. A strong run will at least prevent a significant drop down the World Rankings and wins over Iga Swiatek and Johanna Konta will make her feel better about her game.

It is one that should work well on the grass courts, although there are still some big inconsistencies that need ironing out if Ostapenko is going to fulfil the potential she clearly has. Two years ago she won a Grand Slam title at the French Open so some will say she is more than potential, but for me the Latvian has not kicked on as you would imagine and she is still playing the kind of tennis that has very little margin for error.

She will know all about the difficulties Mihaela Buzarnescu will pose having split four matches two apiece in the last eighteen months. However the one sole meeting on the grass between Ostapenko and Buzarnescu ended with a very routine win for the former last year here in Eastbourne.

It was during a time when Buzarnescu was playing some of the best tennis of her career, but she has struggled to find those levels throughout 2019. The Romanian is playing only her second grass court match of the season after going down to a one-sided defeat to Karolina Pliskova last week in Birmingham, and she is going to have to be a lot more convincing on the return if she is going to win this match.

I do think it will be a closer match because Ostapenko's serve is one that can be vulnerable when she is not feeling at her best. With that in mind Mihaela Buzarnescu should have some successes on the return which she did not manage last week, but I would also expect Ostapenko's aggression to be a deciding factor in the match and she can work her way to a solid looking win.

Covering the handicap won't be straight-forward, but I will look for Ostapenko to do that with the confidence she should have earned from her run in Birmingham. I think she will have the superior return on the day and the Latvian has had more success on the grass than Buzarnescu which should translate to a place in the Second Round.

Anastasija Sevastova - 4.5 games v Daria Gavrilova: Tennis is one of those sports where players can quickly sink down the World Rankings if they hit a poor run of form and that is what has happened to Daria Gavrilova. The Australian has been inspired by the performance of compatriot Ashleigh Barty who is the newest Grand Slam Champion and World Number 1, but Gavrilova needs to dig in if she is going to reverse the form of the last twelve months.

This week Gavrilova has got into the main draw of Eastbourne as a 'Lucky Loser', while the draw could have been much kinder to her.

In recent years Daria Gavrilova has struggled on the grass courts anyway so this is perhaps not the perfect time of the season for her to try and turn around her form. She was a dominant winner in the first Qualifier here, but Gavrilova won just three games in the second Qualifier and the second serve is massively vulnerable on the surface.

The opponent in front of her looks a difficult one too as I look to get behind Anastasija Sevastova who had a decent run to the Semi Final in Mallorca last week. It has to be said that Sevastova has tended to play her best grass court tennis in Mallorca and her results away from that tournament have been far less impressive, but I do think she may match up well with Gavrilova in this First Round match.

Her serve is also one that can be attacked on the grass courts, but I think she has the edge over Gavrilova when it comes to the second serve and the way Sevastova is able to protect that shot. It is a big difference maker within a match when you can get away with a few more second serves than your opponent and I also think the Latvian has the kind of aggression on the return that also gives her the advantage.

Daria Gavrilova did reach the Quarter Final in Eastbourne as a Lucky Loser in 2015 and that has to be respected. But her recent results have not been productive enough to believe she can keep this match as competitive as the layers believe and I will back Anastasija Sevastova to show the superior second serving and returning to work her way to the breaks needed to cover.

Elina Svitolina - 2.5 games v Alize Cornet: A poor loss in Birmingham last week after a disappointing clay court portion of the season has to be a concern for Elina Svitolina fans as we approach the third Grand Slam of the 2019 year. Her health has been in question, but I think this is the kind of match that Svitolina will be looking at as a good chance to get her season turned back around.

A 14-10 record in 2019 is not what anyone expected of Svitolina after she won the WTA Championship Finals for the first time at the end of 2018. Now she is looking to put some wins on the board during a month on the grass courts despite Svitolina not really having the impact she would have wanted at this time of the season in recent years.

The numbers in general from Svitolina have hardly been that impressive, but you can see she has her most difficulty putting things together on the grass. The Ukrainian would love to get more joy from the serve to really start becoming a threat on the surface, while her returning is significantly poorer than on either the clay or the hard courts.

However I do think Svitolina can be backed in this Second Round match when she takes on Alize Cornet who has also not been able to find her best tennis on the grass courts. She did have a solid win over Heather Watson in the First Round, but I think that has as much to do with the poor form Watson has been displaying for twelve months as it has about Cornet suddenly finding form on the surface.

Elina Svitolina has won the last four matches between these players and she also holds a win over Alize Cornet on the grass in Birmingham in 2018. Those four matches have seen Svitolina dominate the returning numbers and she can certainly do that here having played well enough on that side of her game in Birmingham last week.

Much will depend on how much success Svitolina can have on the second serve in this one- if she can get enough first serves in play it shouldn't matter so much, but I do think the Ukrainian can capitalise on the returns off the second serve more than Cornet.

The layers have their doubts about Svitolina which means we are getting a decent spread in this match. While it is a risky play considering the recent performances of Elina Svitolina, I will back her to win this one.

Steve Johnson-Reilly Opelka over 10.5 first set games: We haven't seen Reilly Opelka since the French Open, but the improvements he has made over the last twelve months means he will be entering Wimbledon thanks to his Number 61 World Ranking.

He didn't play any grass court tennis in 2018, but the 'new John Isner' should be someone who can cause problems for whoever he faces on the surface. Two years ago Opelka held 90% of the service games he played on the grass as he compiled a 3-3 record, but the American's numbers are heavily leaning towards his serving.

Back in 2017 he broke in only 8% of return games on the grass, while Opelka is at 11% when you look at his numbers across the last twelve months on all surfaces. At 6'11 in height it is no surprise that his return is as potent as it is and I would expect Opelka to give Steve Johnson plenty to think about in this First Round match at Eastbourne, although the lack of grass court tennis in the last two years is a concern.

Steve Johnson has become very familiar on the surface, although he has had a difficult last two weeks with some tough draws to face. Losses to Gael Monfils and Alexander Zverev around a win over Philipp Kohlschreiber is a difficult run for Johnson to have negotiated and his numbers have been dented by the tough matches he has had.

Both the service and return numbers are someway down on 2018 when Johnson had some real success on the grass, but I do think the higher Ranked American in this First Round match can enjoy better success in this one. I do think Johnson will be able to run through some service games to improve the numbers produced in 2019, but I think Johnson is going to struggle when it comes to the return and that has led me to my pick.

With the way both Johnson and Opelka can serve, I would expect break points to be at a premium in this match. Early on you would think both players are going to have too much pop on the serve to give too many opportunities to the other and I do think we are going to come very close to a tie-breaker to separate them in the first set.

The very opening of the match is perhaps when someone will be caught out cold and I am not anticipating a lot of breaks of serve in this one. With both capable of serving effectively and neither being a particularly productive returner I will look for this match to reach at least 5-5 in the first set.

Nicolas Jarry - 1.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: When you think of players that are going to be looking forward to the grass court season you probably wouldn't think of either Nicolas Jarry or Pablo Cuevas. At least over the last twelve months Jarry has decided to give himself a chance of securing some solid grass court tennis compared with Cuevas who played at Wimbledon without any warm up tennis twelve months ago.

Nicolas Jarry has shown he can produce some effective grass court tennis in 2018 and 2019 and his win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Hertogenbosch has to be respected. He failed to Qualify for the main draw in London last week, but both losses Jarry has had on the grass over the last couple of weeks have been in tight matches.

That does bode well for him as he heads to Eastbourne for this final warm up tournament before Wimbledon gets underway. The Chilean has won at least 66% of his service points on the grass in 2018 and 2019, while he has held 82% and 83% of service games played in those years respectively.

You have to respect the serving that Pablo Cuevas has been able to produce n the grass courts in recent years, but he has struggled significantly on the return of serve. No one is going to confuse Jarry with an exceptional returner, but he has produced better numbers than Cuevas when you compare them in recent years, although both have small samples at play.

In 2016 Pablo Cuevas did surprise his way to a run to the Final in Nottingham which was then the tournament played before Wimbledon begun. However the Uruguayan was only breaking in 12% of return games on the surface in that season and I do think Nicolas Jarry can edge him out in what could be a match in which the serves dominate.

I do think one or two pivotal moments could swing this match, but Nicolas Jarry's motivation to play on the grass could be higher and make all the difference on the day. Both players will be looking to rely on their serve and I do give the narrow edge to Nicolas Jarry on both serving and returning and enough to want to back him to get through this match.

MY PICKS: Jelena Ostapenko - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Anastasija Sevastova - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Steve Johnson-Reilly Opelka Over 10.5 First Set Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Nicolas Jarry - 1.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-0 , + 1.66 Units (2 Units Staked, + 83% Yield)

Season 2019: + 91.97 Units (1104 Units Staked, + 8.33% Yield)

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 23rd)

I am a little bit late with the Tennis Picks on Final day across the four tournaments that were being played through the last seven days.

We also have the beginning of Eastbourne on Sunday with a huge draw being put together in the WTA event there that should give us a pretty good indication as to how Wimbledon will go. Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova are two players who are leading the market without playing a single competitive grass court match so far this year, but both have some serious health issues around them, but there are plenty of big names in action on the south coast of England who will feel they can make a serious impact at SW19 from next Monday.

Below you can see my selections from the Sunday matches and I will be back with fuller threads from Monday. This week the Picks may not cover every day with this being the final week before a Grand Slam, but there should be decent angles to play over the coming days to hopefully add to the season totals ahead of the third Slam of the 2019 season.

MY PICKS: Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Julia Goerges + 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 30-18, + 19.26 Units (96 Units Staked, + 20.06% Yield)

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 22nd)

It's been a long day today which means I have not had the time to write out my full thoughts on the Semi Final matches that are taking place on Saturday.

My focus for the Tennis Picks is going to be on the events being played in London and Mallorca to close out what has been a strong week.

Hopefully one more positive day can be put on the board to ensure a solid return from the last week and add to the season totals. On Sunday we also have the beginning of the events in Antalya and Eastbourne which will get going early so they can be concluded next Saturday ahead of the third Grand Slam of the season.

Picks over the next few days may be less frequent as players turn their focus to Wimbledon, but you can find some nice angles at this time too. With limited grass court tennis played, we do get to see some more familiar names in the final week before this Grand Slam is played so there may be more opportunities.

First things first, let's get this week concluded in the best possible way.

MY PICKS: Anastasija Sevastova - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Daniil Medvedev-Gilles Simon Under 21.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez @ 3.20 Bet365 (1 Unit)

Weekly Update: 29-15, + 23.06 Units (89 Units Staked, + 25.91% Yield)

Friday, 21 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 21st)

Thursday was the poorest day of the week so far as I ended up with my first losing day, but a strong end prevented it being a terrible day.

I have to take some of the blame, I overrated a couple of players I shouldn't have, while I was happy with my selection of Lucas Pouille even though he was beaten in three sets. At the price he was definitely the value play for me and on another day he would have won that match with the opportunities that had come his way at key moments.

On Friday we move onto the Quarter Final Round at the four events being played this week and that means there are sixteen matches to research through. A few of them are already ones in which I won't be making a selection as I don't feel comfortable backing either player, but hopefully I have made the right plays to have another positive day and move the weekly totals back in the right direction.

Matteo Berrettini - 1.5 games v Karen Khachanov: For the second time in two weeks we are going to see Matteo Berrettini and Karen Khachanov face off on the grass courts as they meet in Germany once again. Last week it was Berrettini who won when these two met in the First Round in Stuttgart, but Khachanov has had previous successes in Halle which should give him the belief he can turn things around.

It certainly won't be easy when you think of the confidence with which Berrettini is playing at the moment. He won the title in Stuttgart last week and that has taken him to a career best World Number 22 in the Rankings, and the Italian has shown very little sign that he is ready to give up the momentum he has built up since moving onto the grass.

The serve has been a huge weapon for Berrettini who was broken for the first time in the Second Round win over Andreas Seppi. He actually dropped the first set in that match, but Berrettini is very confident and was a comfortable winner on the day to move through to another Quarter Final.

It now means Berrettini has held almost 99% of the service games he has played on the grass in 2019. This week he has been very strong through the first two Rounds with 79% of points won behind the serve, although Karen Khachanov will certainly feel he can match his opponent in that department.

Karen Khachanov has now held 85% of his service games played on the grass courts in 2019, while he has been strong in Halle where he has held 92% of his service games played thanks to winning 73% of points behind serve. Make no mistake that both players will look to build pressure by running through their service games, but the big difference between them is how effective they have been returning.

Matteo Berrettini has broken in 21% of his return games played and is winning 35% of points against the opponent's serve. At the same time Khachanov is at 16% and 35% respectively and I do think that can make the difference in a match where the prices have been reversed from Stuttgart with Berrettini going in as the slight favourite.

This is going to be the third match between these two in 2019 including the second on the grass courts and it is Berrettini who has been more successful on the return. While he has held serve in 96% of service games played, Khachanov is at 75% and I am going to back the Italian to make it three wins in a row over this opponent whilst also being in a position to cover this number thanks to the superior return ability.

Alexander Zverev - 2.5 games v David Goffin: This should be a very good Quarter Final match to watch with two talented players meeting in Halle on Friday. Alexander Zverev and David Goffin have both spent considerable time in the top ten of the World Rankings, but there have been some doubts with the level both have been producing in recent weeks.

Halle has been a good tournament for both men this week though as they have recorded some strong wins to make their way through to the Quarter Final. That should mean we see two confident players arrive on the court in the second match of the day, although I do think both Zverev and Goffin's confidence will be a little flaky considering the way recent weeks have gone.

We only have a small sample of grass court data and it does have to be said that Goffin's leaps from the page. However a deeper look shows he has won two matches extremely easily which are perhaps skewing how well he is playing, although on the other hand you can't ignore the fact that the Belgian has held 85% of his service games played on the grass over the last two weeks.

David Goffin has been able to back that up with some fine returning and this is a player that has played some solid tennis on the grass throughout his career. That certainly makes him a threat if Alexander Zverev is not at his best, but he continues to get plenty out of his service games and that should put him in a position to at least get on the front foot in rallies.

It will be the best way to try and keep Goffin from getting going on the return, but any second serves are likely being attacked with success.

Alexander Zverev has had his eye in when it comes to the return so far this week to back up the way he has been serving. He has broken in 31% of return games played in his two wins in Halle and I do think this is going to be a match where both players have plenty of break points.

The key could be that Zverev is likely going to be the player who can save a few more of those thanks to a big first serve, but I would not be surprised at all to this match going three sets. In their previous matches we have seen both players produce very similar numbers on the serve and return, but in the last two matches it is Zverev who has dominated the number of break points created.

I do think that will happen in this Quarter Final too and I will back Alexander Zverev to edge this match. Even in a three setter I think he will have every chance to cover the number in this one with an opportunity to win a set with a double break of serve and I will back the home hope to do that.

Stefanos Tsitsipas-Felix Auger-Aliassime over 24.5 games: In the years ahead matches between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime could easily be occurring at the business end of Grand Slam tournaments. Both of these very talented players continue to make a big impact on the ATP Tour while developing their games and both have the capabilities to be long-term top ten players once the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer move on.

They meet for the second time in 2019 and this time there is a Semi Final place on the line at the big pre-Wimbledon event held at Queens Club in West London. This tournament has long been a good indicator for success at SW19 and I think both players will be feeling good about their chances of going through to the final four.

I have to be slightly concerned with the amount of tennis both had to play on Thursday- Stefanos Tsitsipas had to come through a long, tough Second Round match after completing his First Round win over Kyle Edmund. It was more difficult for Felix Auger Aliassime who had to play both First and Second Round matches on the same day with almost three and a half hours spent on court.

At 18 years old I would hope the Canadian is able to recover to have a chance to be really competitive in this one. He is also backed up by an impressive serve which has seen Auger-Aliassime hold 94% of his service games played on the grass in 2019 which includes a run to the Final in Stuttgart last week. In the two matches played at Queens Auger-Aliassime has held every service games and has only faced two break points in the tournament.

Things would have been easier for him if Auger-Aliassime had been more effective on the return of serve, but that has not been the case and he has had to battle for his wins. The youngster is winning less than 30% of the return points played on the grass and Auger-Aliassime has broken in 10% of return games played this week.

He won't find it much easier against Stefanos Tsitsipas who has held 85% of his own service games played on the grass. The Greek star has been more effective at returning serve and that suggests the layers have got the right favourite in this match, but Auger-Aliassime crushed Tsitsipas in Indian Wells back in March and I do think this is going to be a close and competitive match.

Both players should have plenty of success when it comes to the serve and I would not be surprised if we get two very competitive sets to start this match. One break for either player may be enough to secure the set, but I also think there is every chance for the players to run through their service games and be forced into tie-breakers to determine sets.

I also wouldn't rule out a third set to decide the winner and I will back this match to produce more games than the total games line set even though it is a very large number. With the two players serving as they are, I can only see a competitive Quarter Final and far closer than the comfortable win Auger-Aliassime had over Tsitsipas in Indian Wells.

MY PICKS: Matteo Berrettini - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Stefanos Tsitsipas-Felix Auger-Aliassime Over 24.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Gilles Simon - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez @ 3.30 William Hill (1 Unit)
Anastasija Sevastova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Barbora Strycova - 1.5 Games @ 1.72 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Venus Williams + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 1.5 Games @ 1.72 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 24-11, + 22.06 Units (72 Units Staked, + 30.64% Yield)