Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (July 27th)

The Rogers Cup (or Coupe Rogers if you're from Quebec) is clearly one of the big Masters/Premier Events on the Tour, but the action on Tuesday was overshadowed by a simple statement by a player many consider to be the greatest of all time.

That might not be an opinion that I share myself, but I have huge amounts of admiration and respect for Roger Federer. Out of all the players on the Tour, no one comes to close to inspiring tennis Roger Federer can produce when he is on top form and I can easily say the top five performances I have ever seen live will have at least three Federer performances in there.

He is a majestic player to watch on any surface so I've always wanted him to end his career on his own terms, but this year has been a difficult one for him with back and knee issues affecting him. It still came as a surprise that Federer has made the decision to withdraw through the remainder of 2016 to make sure he can get his health up to full fitness in time for 2017.

It will raise questions as to whether retirement is an option for Federer, but my personal opinion is that he will be back on the Tour. 2017 could be a very difficult season for him though with the expected drop in the World Rankings meaning plenty of tough draws in a portion of the season that is perhaps not to Federer's complete liking in Australia through to the clay courts in Roland Garros.

While he won't have a lot of points to defend so can make significant improvements through that time, it can be a long road back up the World Rankings especially for a player that is going to be turning 36 years old in 2017.

I would love to see Federer back and looking to win one more Grand Slam, but that looks like a door that might be closed to him now and you have to question what the motivation will be. The statement makes it clear that Federer will be back, but he is now going to have five months enjoying seeing his family on a daily basis while being able to do whatever he likes and that life can be a lot more appealing than the grind of the ATP Tour at his age.

That may especially be the case for Federer when he takes a look at the World Rankings at the end of 2016 and suddenly realises he could potentially have to play the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as early as the Fourth Round of Grand Slam events.

Even so, I can't imagine Federer will want to end his career with an injury so I wouldn't be surprised if he battles through at least another year and then calls it a day. The Olympic Games were a huge goal for Federer and missing that is going to hurt massively and I don't think he will want to be a player hanging around at Grand Slam tournaments to be beaten in Fourth Round or Quarter Final matches.

So while I do think he will be back in 2017, I would recommend everyone to try and take their chance to see Federer during the course of the year that could easily be his last as a professional.

The tournaments in Toronto and Montreal will begin heating up as we reach the middle of the week and seeing the likes of Novak Djokovic out there. The Second Round matches will be completed on Wednesday after a couple of them started on Tuesday and the first Masters of the North American summer swing will roll on.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (July 26th)

The Canadian Masters in Toronto and the Premier Event in Montreal both got underway on Monday, but it looks like the rain which has been affecting European tournaments since the French Open has followed the Tour across the pond.

It was Montreal which suffered the most on Monday with long rain delays throughout the course of the day, but at least the rest of the week looks better from a weather point of view. Unfortunately for fans of the ATP Tour, the Toronto tournament could see rain affect both Friday and Saturday which would not be good news for the organisers with the Rio Olympics due to begin next week.

Hopefully that won't be an issue and we do get to see plenty of good tennis this week, even if the sight of using towels to clean courts at these big events is still baffling to me. There has to be a better way of getting the courts cleaned quicker than a ballboy with a towel can do, but I also do think that these organisers and the USTA would have checked for other options (the Grand Slam in New York is almost laughable seeing people with towels trying to clean down courts).

On Tuesday some of the top Seeds will be in action as the tournaments move onto the Second Round while also completing the remaining First Round matches.

Gael Monfils - 4.5 games v Joao Sousa: Backing up title wins is tough for any player on the Tour but it might be even more difficult for Gael Monfils who returned in Washington to some kind of form after injury. The Frenchman played very well last week and deserved his title win over the course of the week, although Monfils had to pull out the win over Ivo Karlovic from a really tough position.

Now Monfils moves on to Canada and I do have to say I like his chances of winning the First Round match against Joao Sousa. The latter has not had a lot of positive results on the hard courts and he has been spending his time in Europe on the clay courts ahead of this match which can't be the best preparation to take on an in-form opponent.

This is simply not Sousa's favourite time of the year and it might be even more difficult than normal considering his recent form. Defeats in Bastad and Umag came in disappointing fashion and that is going to have dented confidence before he heads onto the hard courts on which Sousa has struggled.

The matches under Monfils' belt last week have to be a concern in terms of tiredness, particularly when you consider the energy he put into the Final on Sunday. However, I am going to back the Frenchman to continue his strong form from Washington and have enough for a 63, 64 win.

Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 games v Taylor Fritz: Like Gael Monfils, Ivo Karlovic was involved in a long, draining Final on Sunday and one of the oldest players on the Tour is beginning a third full week on the Tour. After winning the title in Newport and reaching the Final in Washington, Karlovic has played a lot of tennis of late and I do wonder if that will take its toll on him.

The Karlovic game isn't one that is too taxing on him, but he has to be mentally drained from the long matches he has played and the way he lost the Final to Monfils. However I think his serve remains a big weapon and Karlovic will be looking to use that to keep the pressure on youngster Taylor Fritz.

The American has a pretty big serve himself, but Fritz might just have hit a wall on what is a long Tour for a young player to become accustomed to. The hard courts might be his favourite time of the season, but a lot of losses in recent weeks means he might not be playing the big points as effectively as he would like and that is an issue against an opponent who won't offer up a lot of chances.

Another strong serving display from Karlovic will put a lot of pressure on Fritz not to make any mistakes on his own serve and that can be tough to deal with. If the veteran is over the disappointment of losing in the Final on Sunday, I think Karlovic might have enough still in the tank to come through and win this match 76, 64.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Borna Coric: A First Round come from behind win over Ivan Dodig has set Borna Coric up with a big Second Round match against Tomas Berdych. He has been beaten twice by Berdych over the last thirteen months, and Coric will have to be an improved player in this one compared to what he has produced in recent weeks if he is going to challenge the Wimbledon Semi Finalist.

I do think Berdych is on the slide in his own career too and has missed the boat when it comes to winning a Grand Slam title. Berdych still has a pretty big game, but the serve can be vulnerable as he doesn't back it up as well as he has in the past and that will encourage Coric.

However Berdych is also a decent enough returner to get joy out of the Coric serve which had been put under pressure by Dodig in the First Round. It has been an inconsistent season for the young Croatian and the hard courts can see him put under pressure when not serving as well as he can, while Coric has also had the tendency to be broken a couple of times in a set on this surface.

Take away the run to the Final in Chennai to open the season and Coric is just 5-6 on the hard courts while he would have gone 1-5 in those losses when it comes to covering this number of games. It has only been two occasions on the hard courts that Coric has been an underdog of at least 4.00 this season and both times he has been beaten by at least a five game margin and I am backing Berdych to cover this number too.

Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: There have been three previous matches between Mikhail Youzhny and Stan Wawrinka on the hard courts and it is Youzhny who has won all three matches. All of those have come on the North American hard courts, but the last of those was at the US Open in 2010 and it isn't an underestimation to say that both players have moved in different directions since then.

For starters Wawrinka is now a two time Grand Slam Champion and he will be the favourite to win this match- the other three meetings on the hard courts all saw Youzhny go in as the favourite.

The veteran Russian has also slipped down the World Rankings and he hasn't had too much hard court tennis under his belt at this level through 2016. The last few weeks have seen Youzhny rather take in the clay courts in Europe before heading to Toronto, although he did come through his First Round match fairly comfortably.

It can be hard to trust Wawrinka when it comes to these big numbers as he can go off the boil very quickly, but the Swiss player has been strong on the hard courts. He has two titles on the hard courts already and I think he will have the majority of break point chances. As long as Wawrinka can take care in the big points, I think he will be strong enough to come through with a 63, 64 win against an opponent who has slipped and will give up chances on the serve.

Daria Kasatkina - 2.5 games v Misaki Doi: There might only be two places between these players in the World Rankings, but for me there are chasms in terms of the potential Daria Kasatkina has compared with Misaki Doi. The latter is a solid enough player on the Tour, but not someone who will be expected win a Grand Slam title, while Kasatkina has plenty of people believing she could be one of the leading lights once Serena Williams calls it a day.

This is the first time Doi and Kasatkina will be meeting on the Tour and I can see a match that has a number of extended rallies. Neither player can really look for their serve to help them to many cheap points and both players should have their chances to break throughout the match.

Both players have had some good results on the hard courts in 2016, but it is Doi who has won a title and then reached the Final of another tournament. However she has not had a lot of success in other tournaments and I think Kasatkina is the better player in the contest and will show that even if Doi has had a hard court tournament under her belt since Wimbledon.

12 of Doi's 17 defeats on the hard courts over the last twelve months have come in straight sets and my belief that Kasatkina will win this one means I will back her to cover this number.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 1.5 games v Yulia Putintseva: 2016 has not been a strong year for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and she looks on course for her fewest wins on the main Tour since 2012. However he run to the Quarter Final at Wimbledon must have given her confidence and she will need that to maintain her World Ranking with a lot of points to defend over the next few months.

After Wimbledon last year, Pavlyuchenkova reached two Quarter Finals, one Semi Final, two Finals and won a title which is keeping her Number 19 World Ranking in place. The pressure is on for her to match those kind of results or face a significant drop in her World Ranking despite that performance at Wimbledon and Pavlyuchenkova comes into this match trying to snap a four match losing run on the hard courts.

Yulia Putintseva is an improving player on the Tour and this is already a career best year as she looks to keep the World Ranking moving upwards. A run to the Semi Final in Washington last week would give her confidence and Putintseva will believe she can get Pavlyuchenkova moving on the court with her defensive skills which can extract mistakes from the Russian's game.

However the faster surfaces should suit Pavlyuchenkova to puncture the Putintseva defences and that is where I believe she will have an edge. A further edge comes from the serve which is a strength for Pavlyuchenkova and I think she can battle past a player that has played a lot of tennis in the last week with a 64, 46, 64 win.

Johanna Konta - 4.5 games v Shelby Rogers: Johanna Konta won her first WTA title last week at the Premier Event in Stanford and that has seen her rise to Number 14 in the World Rankings. It has been a remarkable year for Konta and she looks very comfortable playing at the biggest tournaments, while another strong run in Montreal will see her come close to cracking the top 10.

It can be difficult backing up big weeks like the one Konta has just had and she is facing an awkward opponent in Shelby Rogers. The American had a great run at the French Open, but it was a surprising one on the clay courts, while Rogers' hard court form has not been the most inspiring.

Since reaching the Third Round in Montreal two years ago, Rogers is 9-16 on the hard courts in main level Tour events, including Qualifiers in those events. However that number has been improved by five wins at the US Open in 2015 and Rogers has struggled with her movement on the faster surface which takes away the time players have in striking the ball.

If Konta is serving well that will only up the pressure on Rogers even more in this one, although I am not always keen on backing title winners in their first match the following week. There hasn't been a lot of time for Konta to digest her win in Stanford, but I think she has the mental strength to look for another big run and I will back her to beat Rogers by at least a five game margin.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Daria Gavrilova: There will be a little bit of revenge at play after Daria Gavrilova surprised Simona Halep in a three set win in Rome earlier this year. This is the first match back on the hard courts for Halep after taking in her home tournament in Bucharest since her Semi Final defeat at Wimbledon and it has been an inconsistent season for her to this point.

After a poor start in 2016, Halep did reach a couple of Quarter Finals on the hard courts in Indian Wells and Miami. Halep also has a lot of points to defend in the coming weeks having reached the Final in Canada and Cincinnati last year while also reaching the Semi Final at the US Open.

A run to the Fourth Round in her new home tournament at the Australian Open is the highlight of Gavrilova's year, but she hasn't had a lot of success on the hard courts since then. The disappointment for Gavrilova has to be the fact she has lost her last three hard court matches as the favourite and I do wonder if the Australian is perhaps still being a little over-rated on this surface thanks to that performance in Melbourne.

Gavrilova also went 3-6 on the hard courts following Wimbledon last year and through to the US Open. While she has the groundstrokes to hurt Halep, I think the latter will be more consistent and that can help her through to a 64, 63 win in this Second Round match.

MY PICKS: Gael Monfils - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Daria Kasatkina - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-2, + 1.42 Units (10 Units Staked, + 14.20% Yield)

Monday, 25 July 2016

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (July 25th)

With the Olympic Games putting an additional tournament into the Tennis calendar and many of the top players keen to win the Gold Medal, the Canadian Masters have been moved forward from its usual position on the Tour.

This year it is being played at the end of July rather than in August and a number of the top players have decided they won't take part. That list includes Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, but it should still be a big week of tennis with the two events in Montreal and Toronto taking centre stage.

On Monday we begin the First Round matches in what is a draw that takes place over seven days.

It is still a big field that has made it into the draw and there are some big Ranking points to be earned which is more important than a Gold Medal for many players on the Tour. Next week we do have some Ranking tournaments taking place alongside the Olympic Games and so the field will again be spread out over a number of venues even if the biggest names will be taking part in Rio de Janeiro.

Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: It is very difficult to trust Grigor Dimitrov to perform as you would expect when you see the form he has produced over the last two years. His straight sets loss to Daniel Evans last week in Washington was yet another shot to the confidence which has already been severely dented over the last few months.

Despite the disappointing manner of that loss, Dimitrov has played his best tennis on the hard courts and this is a First Round match I fully expect him to win.

Yuichi Sugita is still outside the top 100 in the World Rankings and he is a player that spends almost his entire year off the main Tour. He has only reached a couple of Quarter Finals on the hard courts at the Challenger level and his defeats tend to be a little one sided as he is not blessed with the biggest serve and is forced to work hard for every point he earns in a match.

That can be difficult on the faster surfaces where it can be tough to recover breaks of serve that the Sugita game has to expect to face. I do think Sugita might find himself having some chances to break too with the way Dimitrov's confidence has been reduced, but I have to think the latter is still good enough to win a match like this with room to spare.

I believe Dimitrov can come through a couple of awkward moments to win this match 63, 64 and move into the Second Round in Toronto.

John Isner - 4.5 games v Dudi Sela: The manner in which John Isner was beaten last week in Washington will bother the American who was looking to win the title there as the Number 1 Seed. He will be looking to bounce back in Toronto with a strong run on another North American hard court as he faces Dudi Sela in the First Round.

On first glance this looks a big number for Isner to cover considering his limited return game, especially if Sela is mentally focused when the scoreboard pressure is on him. The one issue for Sela is that his serve can be a weakness and Isner is going to be aggressive and look to swing out on the return of serve, especially on any second serves he sees.

The Isner serve is always going to be a big weapon on the faster surfaces and he has changed his tact by throwing in a serve and volley to disrupt opponents returns. It is a good idea as Isner's volleying isn't too bad and I can see him use a chip and charge on the return to put more pressure on Sela to find the passing shots consistently.

Sela has not been able to take his form on the hard courts at Challenger level onto the main Tour and I am backing Isner to cover this number in a 63, 64 win in the First Round.

Jack Sock - 4.5 games v Denis Kudla: This might be the seventh meeting between two Americans Jack Sock and Denis Kudla, but the former is certainly looking like a player that is moving in a positive direction in the World Rankings. Jack Sock was an unfortunate Quarter Final loser in Washington last week, but he looked much better than Denis Kudla who was beaten by John Millman 75, 60.

Last year Sock and Kudla did split two matches, but I think the confidence levels are much different going into this match. Kudla has failed to win any of his last five matches and he is just 5-9 on the hard courts over 2016 in both main Tour and Challenger events.

Kudla does have a half decent game behind him, but it is one that can quickly fall apart if he is not feeling the ball as well as he can. His serve will give Sock something to work out, but you have to believe the latter is going to be the better player in the rallies and has the forehand to really hurt Kudla.

It has to be a strong serving day from Sock to keep the pressure on Kudla, but he was serving very well in Washington last week and I expect that to continue. The hard courts should be the perfect surface for Sock who can beat his compatriot 64, 63 to move through to the Second Round.

Samantha Stosur - 2.5 games v Heather Watson: This will be the first appearance on the Tour for Heather Watson since she won the Mixed Doubles title at Wimbledon, but it is on the Singles Tour she really wishes to make her mark. Going 1-4 on the grass courts was a really big disappointment for Watson who is significantly behind Johanna Konta in the World Rankings representing Great Britain.

Her World Ranking has dropped to Number 67, but Watson may feel the return to the hard courts will suit her as her best results have come on this surface. She actually has won a title on the hard courts this season and reached the Fourth Round in Miami and the next few weeks could see a significant improvement in her Ranking as Watson has very few points to defend through to the US Open.

Watson may have been hoping for a better draw than facing Samantha Stosur in the First Round in Montreal, a player who reached the Quarter Final in Washington last week before a disappointing loss. However it has to be noted that Stosur has not had the best season on the hard courts and was beaten in her first match in Canada and Cincinnati last year.

She is a former US Open winner though and Stosur's game should be very strong on the hard courts even if her backhand has been a particular weakness. If she can serve well, the Australian will believe she can create chances against the Watson serve which is erratic to say the least. After a tough three sets, I think Stosur can fight back and win this one 46, 63, 64 and move into the next Round.

Monica Puig - 4.5 games v Naomi Broady: There are three British players in the Montreal draw this week after Naomi Broady came through two tough Qualifiers to enter the main draw. Her World Ranking is inside the top 100 now which means she is likely to have an automatic place in the US Open draw next month, but Broady has struggled for consistent results over the last few months.

Braody made a really positive start to the year having reached the Quarter Final in Auckland and later reaching the Semi Final in Kuala Lumper. However she is just 7-12 in matches sine that Semi Final which included Broady going 0-4 on the grass courts last month. Her wins in the Qualifiers will have boosted confidence and Broady can put together some really strong serving which makes her dangerous, but she faces a very tough First Round encounter here against Monica Puig.

There is no doubting that Puig would have been disappointed in her Second Round loss in Washington last week and it has to be said that her game will produce some erratic performances. Puig will look to be very aggressive behind a decent first serve, but that can also mean a lot of unforced errors if she is not quite feeling her 'A' game.

Puig hasn't always produced her best results on the hard courts, but I think her two wins over Broady this year will boost her belief in winning this match. It is a big number if Broady is playing her best, but I think Puig will prove too strong in a 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
John Isner - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Monica Puig - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Season 2016- 25.60 Units (1203 Units Staked, - 2.13% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)

Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 24th)

The tennis Tour will be moving on to Canada this week, but first we have to complete the tournaments that have been played over the last seven days. Kitzbuhel came to a close on Saturday, but the other six tournaments will have their Finals played on Sunday and so it will still be a busy day, perhaps busier than a usual Sunday.

After a really poor start to this week, things have turned around over the last few days and I am hoping another strong day will help put a third successful week in a row in the books. It is a slow grind turning around the season, but I am happy to take off the negative piece by piece in what has been a tough 2016 so far to follow a poor ending to 2015 which knocked that season down.

Robin Haase + 2.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: This has been an important week for Robin Haase as he looks to prevent a slip outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but for now he can concentrate on simply winning another title on the clay. He is a significant underdog against Feliciano Lopez, which has surprised me, and I am happy taking the games with the Dutchman in this one.

It has been a good week for Lopez too who can potentially move back into the top 20 of the World Rankings, although wins over Jan Mertl, Elias Ymer and Dustin Brown is not the most taxing way through to a Final. The clay courts have not really suited Lopez through his career with the way he approaches the game, but Lopez has recorded the most wins in a season on the surface since 2011.

I do think Haase will present the toughest test for Lopez through this week and it can't be ignored that the former has won all three of their previous matches on the clay. Each time Haase has been able to come back from a set down to win the match and he has been serving well enough this week to give Lopez enough issues through this Final.

I have a gut feeling that Haase might actually win the title here, but this could also be an important amount of games for him to be getting in a losing effort. If both players can take a set in this one, Haase can use his big serve to at least keep this very competitive and I will take the games.

Fabio Fognini - 4.5 games v Andrej Martin: This is the first career meeting between Fabio Fognini and Andrej Martin and it might be considered a surprise Final in Umag considering some of the other players in the draw. Fognini is capable of producing really strong form on the clay so his appearance is less of an upset, but Martin has been mainly playing on the Challenger circuit and has some impressive wins under the belt this week.

Perhaps it should not be as much of a surprise as I think it is as Martin did reach the Third Round at the French Open, but some of his losses on the Challenger circuit since then would not have had many rushing him to reach an ATP level Final.

This is going to be a real test for Martin as Fognini looks to be in really good form in Umag. He has looked focused and has been returning well and I think the Italian is going to be a little too good on the day as long as he can maintain his focus.

We can't underestimate how easy it is for Fognini to drop his focus, but I will back the Italian to win his fourth career title and first since 2014 with an impressive 63, 64 victory.

Lauren Davis + 2.5 games v Yanina Wickmayer: Looking at a head to head between players doesn't really give you the full tale of the tape when researching matches. Sometimes a player is performing on a better surface for themselves, while other times the physical effort used in matches also has to be a factor as well as recent form.

Match ups are still important though and it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Lauren Davis has won all three previous matches against Yanina Wickmayer including their two matches in 2016. It has not been a good season for the American overall, but a run to the Final in Washington will have given Davis a chance of getting back into the top 100 of the World Rankings as she moves into what is likely her best time of the season.

Davis doesn't have a lot of points to defend over the next few weeks and she has the game that can extract mistakes from the Wickmayer game. The Belgian does have the power to hammer the Davis serve, although my one issue would be whether she can mentally keep going for the lines as she has been this week.

I can see both players having their opportunities in this one with Wickmayer having the power and Davis the defensive strength which should make it a fascinating match. The mental edge has to be given to Davis considering she has beaten Wickmayer twice already in 2016 and she can make use of the games she is being given after building up some momentum through the week in Washington.

If Wickmayer is firmly on her game, she might be tough to stop, but I will look for the lower Ranked player to keep it tight through to the end even if she doesn't quite have enough to win the title.

MY PICKS: Robin Haase + 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Lauren Davis + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 22-15, + 8.08 Units (74 Units Staked, + 10.92% Yield)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 23rd)

I am not able to access a computer on Friday but I wanted to put up my Saturday picks after another solid day of picks.

I don't have the time for a full write up, but I will put up my picks below and add those from Washington and Stanford later as I have all week.

MY PICKS: Julia Goerges + 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Robin Haase + 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Yanina Wickmayer - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 17-12, + 5.42 Units (58 Units Staked, + 9.34% Yield)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 22nd)

The first couple of days of this week were pretty poor, but there has been some kind of recovery in the last couple of days.

At the time of writing this post, I still have two picks running from Washington and Stanford and if both of those come in I should be very close to getting this week back into the positive.

In the mean time I have started making my picks from the matches to be played on Friday when the Quarter Finals take over in the majority of the tournaments, although Kitzbuhel has already gotten to the Semi Final Round of that event.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: Damir Dzumhur has beaten one Italian already this week, but now he takes on the best player from that nation on the ATP Tour in Fabio Fognini. There will be a revenge element in play for Dzumhur who was beaten in straight sets by Fognini last year in Umag in a Second Round match, although there is more on the line this time around with a Semi Final berth awaiting the winner.

I wasn't sure how Fognini was going to react to losing Rubber 4 in the Davis Cup Quarter Final on Sunday, although it has to be noted he looked the better player for much of that defeat to Federico Delbonis. I think he was struggling physically, but he should be well rested by Friday having needed to win just one match to get to this Quarter Final.

It has been a disappointing season for Fognini on the clay courts and he still has a losing record on the surface going into this match. That is in contrast to Dzumhur who has a winning record even though he has had to come through Qualifiers in a number of big tournaments. However he had lost four in a row on the clay prior to his win here earlier in the week and Dzumhur is not going to overpower Fognini in this one.

There should be some long rallies in this one as both players are capable of producing strong defensive tennis, but I think Fognini is the better player and that should eventually show. Last year he was a fairly comfortable winner, but this year it might be a closer 75, 64 kind of win for the Italian as he gets through to a rare Semi Final in 2016.

Laura Siegemund - 3.5 games v Lara Arruabarrena: It was a withdrawal from Angelique Kerber which allowed Lara Arruabarrena through to the Quarter Final, but she faces another German if she wants to go any further in the draw. Laura Siegemund reached the Semi Final in Bucharest last week and she has had her best results on the clay courts this season which makes her the favourite.

This has already been a career year for Siegemund and she has played some solid tennis to get through to the Quarter Final. Both of her wins have come in straight sets and I think Siegemund has the kind of game that will give Arruabarrena a lot to deal with.

The last seven losses Arruabarrena has had on the clay courts has seen her fail to get within this number and someone like Siegemund can get the better of her here. The Spaniard did reach the Semi Final in Bastad last season which would suggest she is comfortable in the conditions at this tournament, but Arruabarrena is not in really strong form at the moment.

Missing a match might keep her physically ready for this match, but it isn't enough against someone who will be battle hardened and I expect Siegemund to come through 64, 64.

Johanna Larsson - 1.5 games v Annika Beck: This has been a tournament that Johanna Larsson has loved playing at throughout her career with three Final appearances here. The defending Champion plays well in front of her own supporters and I think she can get the better of Annika Beck in what could be a very competitive Quarter Final.

I have to respect what Beck will bring to the table which can cause Larsson some problems. We saw Sara Sorribes Tormo give Larsson a hard time by making a few more balls back in play and Beck will be looking to do that throughout this match and try and break down the home favourite mentally as well as physically.

One difference between the players is that Larsson has a much bigger serve than her opponent and I expect her to get a few more free points in this one. Larsson broke the Sorribes Tormo serve every time on Thursday and she will have a chance to play first strike tennis against the Beck serve in this Quarter Final with much of the match on her racquet.

Larsson has been a dominant force in her home tournament over the seasons and she doesn't drop a lot of sets here in winning efforts. I expect her to win this match and so I will back her to cover this number in a three set win.

Samantha Stosur - 5.5 games v Jessica Pegula: There was an element of fortune about Samantha Stosur's Second Round win over Caroline Wozniacki as the latter had to retire with an injury while leading by a set. Now it is up to the Australian to make use of her reprieve in the draw and look to push on for another title on the hard courts in North America.

She looks to have been given a favourable draw against Jessica Pegula of the United States, even if the latter has produced two quality wins so far this week. This has been the first main Tour hard court tournament that the young American has entered this year and wins over Aleksandra Wozniak and Christine McHale, both in straight sets, are decent results to move forward with.

Some of the other results on the hard courts have been less impressive from Pegula this season but Stosur should give her respect considering she pushed Dominika Cibulkova to three sets last year at the US Open. The difference between Cibulkova and Stosur is the latter will produce some big time serving which will increase the pressure on Pegula who is trying to back up a huge upset win over McHale.

Stosur isn't at the same level that saw her win the US Open and the backhand remains a weakness, while she hasn't been blowing players off court too often on the hard courts. However she does save her best tennis for the US hard court swing and I am going to back her to cover a very big number at odds against.

Johanna Konta - 4.5 games v Saisai Zheng: It has been a spectacular twelve months for Johanna Konta who will be amongst the Seeds at the US Open but I think the British Number 1 will be the first to admit to her disappointment with the way the grass court season went for her. A run to the Semi Final in Eastbourne was a solid result, but she was beaten in the Second Round in each of her other three events, including at Wimbledon.

One of the more disappointing defeats had to be the one suffered at the hands of Saisai Zheng, a player Konta had beaten fairly comfortably the previous two times they had met. I am not sure if there was a physical issue there, or whether the mental pressure of playing at home was the reason for that loss, but Konta looked good in her opening win in Stanford.

Both of Zheng's wins this week have looked good too, particularly the way she dismissed Alize Cornet in the last Round. However her game is one that Konta won't be overawed by and the latter has to feel she can get into those service games and earn break points through the contest.

The issue for Konta in Nottingham was that she simply did not serve well enough to keep Zheng under pressure and made too many mistakes through the match. That won't get it done against a solid, if unspectacular, opponent and Konta will know she has to be a little cleverer at the big moments to make this an easier day in the office.

The first serve is the key for Konta- if she can dominate behind that shot, I would expect she will have enough chances to record a 64, 63 win in this one and that is what I will be backing.

Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 games v Misaki Doi: A strong end to the tournament in Washington will give Dominika Cibulkova every chance to work her way back into the top 10 of the World Rankings. Cibulkova is now a married player on the Tour and that has worked out well for some of the ATP players over the last couple of years and it will be interesting to see how it works out for her.

She played well in her first win in Washington, but Cibulkova's issue will always be protecting the serve well enough to come through matches on the faster hard courts. Her run to the Australian Open Final suggests she can do that, but the North American hard courts tend to play a little faster than the ones 'Down Under'.

Being overpowered shouldn't be a concern for Cibulkova in this Quarter Final as she meets Misaki Doi for the first time in their careers. Doi has won two matches as a strong favourite, but the First Round was far from straight forward and this is a player that has plenty of issues with her own serve.

The key for Doi is to try and stay in the rallies and look for an aggressive Cibulkova to make a lot of unforced errors as she starts chasing the lines. However I do think Cibulkova will have success on the return against a weak serve and I believe the Slovakian can move through to the Semi Final behind a 76, 62 win.

Coco Vandeweghe - 2.5 games v Alison Riske: There is no doubt that Coco Vandeweghe is still a very erratic player capable of mixing the sublime with the ridiculous, but she needs to find a little more consistency if she is going to be Seeded at the US Open. Her come from behind win over Nicole Gibbs would have given her confidence, but Vandeweghe will have to be a lot stronger in a lot of departments if she is going to see off compatriot Alison Riske in this Quarter Final.

It has been a difficult season for Riske when it comes to trying to find the consistency to improve her own World Ranking, but she does have a few Finals to call upon. Coming off a decent grass court season, although one that saw her disappointingly beaten early at Wimbledon, should have raised the confidence levels backed up by two come from behind wins in Stanford.

However I do wonder if that is going to have a physical effect on Riske having played six sets compared with three Vandeweghe has played. She hasn't played a lot of tennis in recent weeks which should help, but there is only so many times you can go to the well and recover from a set down, with the mental fatigue also a potential factor.

My concern whenever I back Vandeweghe is that her aggressive style will lead to a lot of unforced errors which gifts breaks of serve away. The actual serve is a big weapon, but you have to follow that up correctly and failure to do that will give Riske a way into this match. In saying that, I think the latter has played a lot of tennis already this week and I don't think it will be possible for her to come back from a set behind again and I like Vandeweghe to move through behind a 64, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Laura Siegemund - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson - 1.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Coco Vandeweghe - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 12-11, - 1.84 Units (46 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 21st)

The Canadian Masters and Premier Event are being played next week rather than in August and the timing of the event has seen a number of the big names decide to pull out of the event. While many of the top Singles players will be taking part at the Olympic Games, others have decided that this change in their usual schedule is not worth undertaking and the event, particularly the ATP event, has taken a big hit in star power.

The likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have pulled out all citing they need more time to recover physically from Wimbledon/wrist injury and much of that has to be have been affected by this tournament moving forward at least two weeks.

Others have followed suit although notably not Novak Djokovic (not yet anyway) and I think the Toronto Masters now looks a big chance for someone to pick up some huge Ranking points and perhaps the biggest title of their career.

Thursday will see a number of tennis matches played across the seven tournaments being played this week and we are beginning to get to the business end of events. It is the final non-hard court events on the main Tour for the rest of the season and the run to the US Open will begin next week in Canada and take in a number of stops on the road to New York at the end of August.

Robin Haase - 1.5 games v Horacio Zeballos: It might be Horacio Zeballos who is Ranked higher than Robin Haase, but I think the Dutchman is rightly considered the favourite in this Gstaad Second Round match.

Both players have come through their First Round match relatively comfortably and some may look to the underdog considering how well Zeballos has played on the clay courts at the Challenger level. In recent weeks Zeballos has won two Challenger events on this surface and reached the Final in another, but he has not been able to turn that success into wins on the main Tour.

Zeballos did play well in reaching the Second Round at this tournament last season, coming through the Qualifiers to get to that Round. However you have to wonder if he has the consistency to play at the highest level even if he is playing against an opponent that is far from consistent and capable of throwing in an absolute stinker of a match when not expecting him to do so.

2016 has been a tough season for Haase who is in danger of slipping out of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but a strong end to this tournament will get him moving in the right direction. Haase has had some disappointing losses on the clay this season, but the summer months have seen him produce his best tennis and he could be in line for another strong run in this tournament.

I don't think this will be easy and I wouldn't be surprised to see some twists and turns through the match, but I do think Haase is capable of winning this one 64, 36, 63.

Johanna Larsson - 3.5 games v Sara Sorribes Tormo: The Second Round match between Johanna Larsson and Sara Sorribes Tormo will be played in Bastad on Thursday. While Larsson came through her First Round match without too much fuss, Sorribes Tormo had to play three sets in her own First Round encounter after coming through two Qualifiers before that.

The young Spaniard has won a couple of titles at the levels below the WTA Tour and she will clearly favour clay with much of her life seeing her play on this surface. That will make Sorribes Tormo a threat, but she has yet to turn her successful results into deep, positive runs on the main Tour.

Last week it took Timea Bacsinszky to stop Sorribes Tormo's run, and the same player beat Larsson in the Quarter Final. It was a poor serving display from Larsson in that one, but that is one of her big weapons especially the kick she can get out of it, while being at home has proven to be a positive experience in the past.

Larsson won the title here last season without dropping a set and that was after twice previously being a losing Finalist in Bastad. Her game seems to work here and the motivation of playing in front of her home supporters clearly keeps her focused and I think Larsson can use all of her experience to get the better of Sorribes Tormo here too.

As long as she serves well, I think Larsson will have chances to break the Sorribes Tormo serve and come through this one 64, 64.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Lara Arruabarrena: There are times when I have to question the scheduling players have and this is one of those times after seeing Angelique Kerber in the draw. I am not entirely sure what has motivated the Australian Open Champion to take in another clay court tournament in a season where just 6 of her 35 wins have come on the surface, but now she is here I would expect a full effort.

Anything less will mean Kerber is going out of the tournament in the Second Round against Lara Arruabarrena. The latter might be Number 98 in the World Rankings, but Arruabarrena has had her best results on the clay and would have another winning record in a single season on this surface if she can win this match.

Some of the defeats have been disappointing for Arruabarrena and she has been beaten in all three previous matches against Kerber. That includes a tight three set defeat in Charleston earlier this season, but you can't ignore the fact that Kerber had lost four in a row on the clay courts outdoors, even if she did win the title in Stuttgart on an indoor clay court.

Motivation is a concern when backing Kerber this week, but she showed enough in coming back from a set down to beat Cornelia Lister in the First Round. This won't be an easy match for her in any shape or form against a clay court specialist, but I think Kerber can battle through for a 46, 62, 64 win.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Bethanie Mattek-Sands: This is a big match for two players who have perhaps slipped further down the World Rankings than they would like to see. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is hoping to improve her own Ranking to ensure she can earn a direct entry into the US Open played next month, while Julia Goerges has to feel she is much better than her current Number 73 in the World Ranking.

I think Mattek-Sands was fortunate with the draw when meeting Kiki Bertens who reached the Final in a rain hit Gstaad last week. A lot of her matches were played in a short period of time at the end of the rain affected week which would have sapped physical strength as Bertens got through to the Final and I do think the American took advantage of that.

It is a big win and Mattek-Sands is capable of producing some big time tennis when she is in her best form. She will need all of that to beat Goerges in this Second Round match as the latter is the superior clay court player and can match the power that Mattek-Sands will bring to the court.

Goerges will again need to serve well and make sure she remains mentally focused when things are not going completely her way. Keeping unforced errors down and working Mattek-Sands around is important if she is to make it three wins in a row against the American, but I like Goerges' chances to do that.

The German did beat Mattek-Sands in straight sets earlier this season in Rome and I think she can match that with a 75, 64 win.

Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 games v Nicole Gibbs: Two American players meet in the Second Round in Stanford in the final match of the day and it is Coco Vandeweghe who is a healthy favourite against Nicole Gibbs. I can't disagree with that even if Gibbs is in the midst of her best season on the Tour.

As well as Gibbs has played at times, her serve remains very vulnerable and that has seen her defeats come by wide margins. In her six defeats on the hard courts this season, Gibbs' opponents would have covered this number four times and Coco Vandeweghe has the kind of firepower that will cause her a few problems.

That will only be amplified if Vandeweghe is serving as well as she can and the pressure on Gibbs will come from the other side of the court and the scoreboard. It will be tough to ignore that on the faster surfaces where one break could be enough for someone like Vandeweghe to take the set and she can be a strong front runner as confidence builds.

My one concern for Vandeweghe has to be the poor run she had on the North American courts at this time last year and she can be a little loose when the break points come her way. However I think she will create enough chances to win this one 63, 64 and move into the Quarter Finals to be played on Friday.

Steve Johnson - 3.5 games v Ryan Harrison: One of the in-form players on the Tour is Steve Johnson who made a strong start to his hard court season with a convincing win over Adrian Mannarino. He should expect a much stronger challenge from Ryan Harrison, even if the latter is Number 158 in the World Rankings.

Harrison has really struggled for consistency since his breakout year on the Tour in 2012 and the majority of his time is spent on the Challenger circuit these days. However Harrison still has a pretty big serve and can play some strong stuff on the hard courts which makes him a dangerous opponent despite what the World Ranking may indicate.

He has already won three matches here in Washington having come through the Qualifiers and Harrison certainly has an ability to steal sets off of his opponents on the hard courts even if he ultimately comes up short in the match. It has to be a concern in backing Steve Johnson who might be full of confidence, but who has a losing record on the hard courts this season.

Johnson did reach the Semi Final in Washington last season and will be looking to match that performance to make sure he keeps his Ranking high enough to be Seeded at his home Grand Slam next month. The higher Ranked American in this contest has certainly been serving very well and I think he can get the better of Harrison in this one although it is likely to be in two competitive sets as I look for Johnson to come through 76, 63.

Jack Sock - 3.5 games v Daniel Evans: Most of the players left in the men's draw in Washington are Seeded players, but part of the reason we haven't seen a clean sweep is because of Daniel Evans. The British player was a deserving winner over an out of form Grigor Dimitrov in the last Round and he will be looking to back that up when he faces Jack Sock on Thursday.

A place in the Quarter Final is at stake and it would be a huge boost for Evans in terms of his World Ranking which was at a career high just last week. He is still inside the top 100 and Evans will be looking to keep that Ranking trending in the right direction, but the win over Dimitrov might make him a little over-rated in this one.

There is no doubting that Jack Sock has plenty of room for improvement including backing up his serve more effectively than he does and improving his return game. However the American does have some heavy groundstrokes, particularly the forehand wing, and Sock will be looking for a run that could potentially see him move inside the top 20 in the World Rankings.

Sock had a tough win over Lukas Lacko in the last Round and the next few weeks present him a real chance to put up some big Ranking points with nothing much to defend. He did reach the Quarter Final in Washington last season and Evans hasn't played too many matches at this level over the last few seasons. I respect how well he played to see off Dimitrov, but Sock should be a much more confident player and can win this one 76, 63.

John Isner - 2.5 games v Marcos Baghdatis: At Wimbledon, John Isner made it seven straight wins over Marcos Baghdatis and I think the American will have his chances to make it eight in a row on Thursday. His serve will always give him a chance to win matches, but the key to this one is that Baghdatis is likely to throw in a cheap service game or two which can be difficult to retrieve on the faster hard courts.

Their match at Wimbledon was close, but I do think Baghdatis is more comfortable on the grass than Isner, whereas the hard courts are much more to Isner's liking. Both players performed well to win their Second Round matches on Wednesday, but this is a step up in competition for both and the mental edge has to be given to Isner considering their previous head to head match ups.

When Baghdatis builds up some momentum he can be tough to stop, but there are plenty of early exits on the hard courts that the Cypriot has experienced over the last few seasons. Too many second serves gives players a chance to have a real swing against him and Baghdatis has to be mentally right at the races to stay with Isner in this one.

The Davis Cup loss to Marin Cilic was a big disappointment for Isner but he has an easier way to get over those mental blows with his serve being a huge weapon on the hard courts. He might need a tie-breaker to win the first set, but I think Isner will then have a few chances against the Baghdatis serve as tiredness and scoreboard pressure build up which will lead to a 76, 64 win for the Number 1 Seed.

Sam Querrey - 1.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: One of the most frustrating players on the Tour has to be Alexandr Dolgopolov who has all the talent, but rarely makes the right shot selection. He looks like a player that simply goes out on the court and will play his own way regardless of whether it is the right tactic for the day and Dolgopolov will take his chances whether he wins or loses.

I don't know if it matters to him so much if he doesn't win and so it can be hard to know what exactly you are going to see from the Dolgopolov racquet on any given day.

That is not the case with Sam Querrey who will look to dominate behind a big serve and heavy forehand wherever possible. The win over Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon has raised his stock, but it is important for Querrey to back that up over the next few weeks on what should be his favoured hard courts.

Querrey has had an inconsistent year on the hard courts with early losses in Indian Wells and Miami, but winning a title in Delray Beach. He doesn't have a lot of points to defend over the next few weeks which will give him a chance to really improve his Number 29 position in the World Rankings and the American has won his last three matches against Dolgopolov including both matches last season.

I just believe Querrey won't be as erratic as Dolgopolov who had success at this stage of the Tour last year but who has been very inconsistent through 2016. It should be an interesting match while it lasts but I think Querrey can come through and cover this number.

MY PICKS: Robin Haase - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
John Isner - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Querrey - 1.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-9, - 7.66 Units (30 Units Staked, - 25.53% Yield)