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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 31st (London Olympics Day 4 and Washington)

As I wrote yesterday, I will be making picks from the tournament in Washington a bit later considering their order of play will not be out for a while and the markets need time to catch up.

The Olympic tournament in London has been going pretty smoothly for most of the top players, but it should begin heating up as the limit of 16 seeds means there are plenty of good matches to watch.

Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Roger Federer are also keeping my outright interests alive in the tournament following the exit of Tomas Berdych and all three look solid so far, although Kvitova has needed three sets to win both of her first two matches.

However, I am not so concerned with Serena Williams and Federer who moved through easily enough, although the challenges are going to get a lot better in the coming days.

Sabine Lisicki v Yaroslava Shvedova: This has been set as a pick 'em contest as Yaroslava Shvedova has been playing some very good tennis since the French Open and Sabine Lisicki can be a little frustrating to watch.

However, I think the German player probably favours grass more than any other surface and that should give her the belief that she can win this match.

Her serve can be effective and she just has to be careful that she doesn't make too many unforced errors, something that can be a problem in her game.

Shvedova has played some of her best tennis in her Singles career over the last couple of months, but this is as tough a test she would have faced. I really respect the fact that she pushed Serena Williams all the way in a three set loss at Wimbledon, and there is every chance this match also needs a decider.

However, I do believe Lisicki is going to be a little too good when it is all said and done and I will pick her to win this one.

Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 games v Richard Gasquet: Both of these players are very comfortable on the grass courts, but I just think Marcos Baghdatis is being under-rated in this one and is more than capable of winning at least a set and that could ensure that he covers the spread.

Baghdatis gave Andy Murray all sorts of problems when they met at Wimbledon last month, while Richard Gasquet was a disappointing loser to Florian Mayer.

The Cypriot is not really someone I would have high on a list of players I would trust to give their all if they were playing for my life, but I think he is strong enough to take at least a set even if he doesn't win the match, and that may be enough to see the cover come in.

Baghdatis has also won the only meeting between Gasquet and himself and I am going to look to him to keep this tight.

Jesse Levine v Marinko Matosevic: This is a close match but one where I think Jesse Levine will be a little too strong and is worth a small interest.

He is playing in front of a crowd that should be supporting him fully and he did record a straight sets win over Marinko Matosevic in Newport at the beginning of the month.

However, I think Matosevic has been set as the favourite because of the form he showed on Los Angeles last week where he reached the Semi Final, while Levine has not won a match on the hard courts so far this season (on the Main Tour).

Levine has won a couple of qualifying matches here to get to this stage so will be more than familiar with the conditions and that may give him an edge in this one.

MY PICKS: Sabine Lisicki @ 1.96 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 games @ 1.94 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Jesse Levine @ 2.25 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

Weekly Update: 2-5, - 4.72 Units (13 Units Staked)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 30th (London Olympics Day 3 and Washington)

The tournament in Washington, which is an ATP 500 event, will be beginning on Monday, but any picks from that event will be made tomorrow once all the markets are up.

Santiago Giraldo - 1.5 games v Steve Darcis: Steve Darcis caused the biggest surprise of First Round in the Olympics when he knocked out Tomas Berdych, my dark horse pick.

That may have seen his chances of winning this match being a little over-rated and I do like the Colombian, who was an impressive straight sets winner over Ryan Harrison in the First Round, to come through this one.

First off, Darcis may just have a let down performance after playing so effectively against Berdych and he is still the same player that was beaten in five sets by Guillermo Rufin in the First Round at Wimbledon and he failed to qualify for that Grand Slam last year.

Santiago Giraldo has also won his two previous meetings against Darcis, although he doesn't have the best grass court pedigree. However, Giraldo has a decent serve and a solid ground game and I think he is going to be a little too good for Darcis in this one.

Gilles Simon - 1.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: Gilles Simon has perhaps been better known outside of tennis circles as the 'evil man who dared to suggest equal pay is stupid at Grand Slam level', but it shouldn't be forgotten that he is a former top 10 player.

To be honest, I think Simon's style is quite off-putting as he seems to prefer keeping the ball in play as long as possible and waiting for errors rather than putting the front foot forward and trying to outright win points.

He might still be too consistent for Grigor Dimitrov at this stage of their careers and he does hold a 3-0 head to head over 'Baby Federer' including a straight sets win over him in Nice earlier this season.

Simon also holds a win over Dimitrov on the grass courts and I think he is worth backing to move to 4-0 against the Bulgarian in this Second Round match.

Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 games v Edouard Roger-Vasselin: This is one of the matches taking place at the tournament in Washington and I like Jeremy Chardy to be too strong for his compatriot in the First Round match.

Chardy is moving up the Rankings after struggling last season and I think he has shown enough form in recent weeks to suggest he will be too good for Edouard Roger-Vasselin in this one. Roger-Vasselin also had to pull out with a stomach issue from the tournament in Gstaad a couple of weeks ago so he could also be a little rusty.

Roger-Vasselin does lead the head to head 2-1, but it was Chardy who won their last meeting. That also occurred on a hard court, the only meeting that has been played on a surface other than clay, and I think Chardy may be a little too good in this one too.

MY PICKS: Santiago Giraldo - 1.5 games @ 2.18 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Gilles Simon - 1.5 games @ 2.13 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-3, - 2.98 Units (7 Units Staked)

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London Olympic Basketball Picks (July 29-August 12)

I am going to be using this one thread to collate the picks I make from the basketball at the Olympics in London.

First things first, I don't watch Women's basketball so I won't be making picks on a sport where I don't know anything about what is going on.

The second thing to point out is I won't try and look 'smart' by picking the United States to win the Gold Medal as even someone who has been living under a rock will be able to pick them as the winners.

July 29th
Brazil v Australia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14596-Brazil-v-Australia.htm)

Great Britain v Russia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14597-Great-Britain-v-Russia.htm)

July 31st
Great Britain v Brazil Pick: I didn't have time for full previews due to work commitments, but I do like Brazil to cover the spread in this game with Great Britain.

Great Britain were fairly comfortably beaten by Russia in their first game and only kept things as close as they did because of very solid production on the offensive boards- I don't think they will be able to have the same dominance in this one due to the Brazilian size and I would be surprised if they have half as many offensive boards as they did in the first game.

The shooting from the field was actually pretty poor and that is not going to see them keep things close against a Brazilian team that has plenty of scoring power and I expect they will win by closer to 20 points in this one.

France v Argentina Pick: Argentina were probably the most impressive winners in the first set of games (outside of the USA who were favoured by 24 points anyway) and I think they are going to be a little too good for a France team that has a few injuries to be concerned with.

With Tony Parker being 34, he can't be expected to log long minutes when games are played every other day and I think the French don't have the same depth as Argentina and that may be the difference in this game.

I think Argentina are probably the third best team in the tournament and I think they will be able to win this game and put themselves in a very strong position to qualify from the group, most likely behind the USA, but that alone should give them a good chance to get into the Medal contention.

August 2nd
France v Lithuania Pick: France surprised many people, including me, with their win over Argentina last time out and that puts them in a very strong position to finish behind the United States in Group A and avoid having to play them again until the Final at the earliest.

That can be almost all but guaranteed if they can win this game as they will have Nigeria and Tunisia left to play, two matches the French will expect to win.

Lithuania are actually ranked at Number 5 in the World Rankings, but they haven't played that well so far and so are considered the dogs in this one. However, I do believe they are a better team than they have shown and I would be surprised if they are blown out as badly as they were in the first game against Argentina.

I expect this to be a close contest, so I will take the points and hope Lithuania show off their real ability in this game.

Argentina v Tunisia Pick: Argentina were the team surprised by France in the last set of games and I think that means they will come out fired up to make a point against Tunisia who look the weakest team in this Group.

The Argentines still have to play the United States, but they will want to build confidence with remaining games against Nigeria and Tunisia also on slate. As one of the Medal favourites at the start of the tournament, anything less than a Bronze will not be acceptable, but that means they need to finish in the top three places and avoid a tough looking match against Spain, the most likely winner of Group B.

Tunisia look a little overmatched when it comes to talent, but I am surprised that they are only given half the points that they were against the United States and they look worth opposing in this one.

Spain v Great Britain: Spain look the best of the teams in Group B and I think the may just take advantage of a Great Britain team that has to be emotionally fragile after coming so close to upsetting Brazil in their last game.

With just a day of rest between games, Great Britain may also be considering reserving some energy for their final two games against Australia and China, especially if they fall into an early hole in this one. To qualify from the Group, I expect Great Britain will need to beat both Australia and China and there is a chance that they are looking ahead to those games with this one coming in a letdown spot.

I am a touch concerned that Spain themselves are potentially looking ahead to their final two games against Russia and Brazil which will decide the winner of the Group and the opportunity to avoid the United States until the Final at the earliest, but they will know they cannot take their eye off the ball here and will look to maintain momentum.

Russia beat Great Britain by 20 points and I think Spain are going to match that so will back them to cover the spread.

August 8th
I was absolutely fuming after missing two of my last three picks by a combined 3 points and couldn't believe the way my luck had landed so held off until the Quarter Finals where the urgency should be greater in a 'play hard or go home' setting.

Russia v Lithuania Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14611-Russia-v-Lithuania.htm)

France v Spain Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14612-France-v-Spain.htm)

United States v Australia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14613-United-States-v-Australia.htm)

August 10th
I don't think I have ever been on a run of form where so many of the picks I have made have literally been beaten by so little... In fact, five of the picks that have fallen by the wayside have done by a combined 10 points and that is just bad luck and great work by the layers that have got the lines dead right.

With the way the Olympics have been, the layers have had the advantage in a competition like this, but it's the little things that have cost me- be that missed free throws once the cover looks certain to come in, meaningless buckets late or teams fouling into an against the spread loss, and there isn't a lot you can do about that except hope things fall the right way in the final four games.

Spain v Russia Pick: The first Semi Final has all the makings of a close one and I am a little surprised that Russia are being given as many points as they are... It is almost like the spread has been set as to how the game should go, but with little account of how these teams have played in the tournament so far.

Russia have looked good, while Spain have looked a little lethargic- whether they have just been saving themselves for this stage of the competition is up for debate, but I struggle to see how a team can just turn on the switch and play good basketball after having such a hard time over the last couple of weeks.

The three point shooting will be the key, but Russia have shown they can get that going and they have looked slightly better in defence of the two teams so taking the points looks the only sensible option for me (although they will probably lose by 6 on the nose with the way a lot of my picks have been going).

United States v Argentina Pick: The United States are really going to have to play some sloppy basketball if they are to fail to get the Gold Medal and I think they are going to be totally up for this Semi Final against the Argentinians and thus erase the memories, once and for all, of their Semi Final defeat at the same stage in Athens eight years ago.

The USA beat Argentina fairly comfortably in the Group Stage as they put a defensive clamp on them in the second half of that game before pulling away for the 29 point win. Too many players can get hot for the States that is hard to see how Argentina pull the surprise other than trying to hit a very high percentage of three pointers and then hope for a lot of luck.

The fight between some of the players in an exhibition game before the Olympics should have the United States fully motivated, something they didn't always show in the win over Australia, and that may allow them to replicate the Group game and win by more than 26 points in this one.

MY PICKS: 29/07 Brazil - 6.5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
29/07 Russia - 11.5 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (2 Units)
31/07 Brazil - 11.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (2 Units)
31/07 Argentina - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
02/08 Lithuania + 6.5 Points @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
02/08 Argentina - 23.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
02/08 Spain - 17 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

08/08 Lithuania + 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
08/08 Spain - 5.5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
08/08 United States - 33.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
10/08 Russia + 5.5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
10/08 United States - 24.5 Points @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Olympic Update: 2-8, - 12.46 Units

Tennis Picks July 28th (London Olympics Day 1)

The major talking point from this week on the tennis calender is the London Olympics which will be played at Wimbledon from July 28th-August 5th.

However, there will also be an ATP 500 event in Washington which will begin on Monday and this is all before the two Masters tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati begin on Monday 6th August.

I have made four outright picks from the Olympic tournament and those can be found here

Below, I have started the picks from the First Round matches that will be played on Saturday:

David Nalbandian v Janko Tipsarevic: This is a rematch from Wimbledon when these two players also met in the First Round and saw Janko Tipsarevic win in straight sets.

However, that match was much closer than it seems on first viewing with David Nalbandian missing a huge number of break point chances in that match which would have seen him split the first two sets and made a real match of it.

Tipsarevic has also been spending a lot of time on the clay courts between Wimbledon and this tournament and so he will also be looking to make a quick adjustment between surfaces while Nalbandian has taken a few weeks off (likely to avoid the press after what happened at Queens as much as getting ready for this tournament).

I just find it strange that the layers have actually made Nalbandian a much bigger price to win this match than when they met at Wimbledon and I actually believe the best of three sets will likely suit him better as he proved when reaching the Final at Queens in the lead up to the third Grand Slam of the year.

With the match at Wimbledon being as close as it was, I think the odds on Nalbandian are a bit of a joke to be honest and I will back him for the minimum stakes to get the better of Tipsarevic this time.

John Isner - 3.5 games v Olivier Rochus: I think John Isner has had a bit of a disappointing season after some impressive Davis Cup performances which has seen him beat the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer on the clay courts.

He was a First Round loser at Wimbledon, but should have picked up some confidence from winning a grass tournament in Newport and reaching the Semi Finals in Atlanta and I think his serving may cause the diminutive Oliver Rochus some problems and build up the scoreboard pressure that will eventually see the Belgian crack.

Rochus makes up for his lack of size with a big heart, but I find it hard to see him getting too much joy from the Isner service game and that may be the difference between them.

Isner has also beaten Rochus in both previous matches, including on a grass court last season, and would have covered this spread on offer on both occasions.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Lukasz Kubot: I am a little high on the way Grigor Dimitrov has been going about his business in recent weeks and there are some real signs that he is going to be able to fulfil some of the potential he has.

He reached the Semi Final at Queens earlier this year and was showing something on the grass courts at Wimbledon before he had to pull out with an injury. He has since reached the Semi Final of a clay court event and that includes a ridiculously comfortable win over Lukasz Kubot.

The Polish player is a solid competitor that has had his best time on the Tour over the last couple of seasons and he did reach the Fourth Round at Wimbledon in 2011. However, he has not shown that level of form on the grass courts this season and I think Dimitrov is going to be too strong in all aspects of the game.

The first set could be close and may even need a tie-break, but I expect the Bulgarian to earn two breaks of serve in this match and that could be enough to see him through with a cover of this spread.

Fernando Verdasco v Denis Istomin: This has been set slightly close to a pick 'em contest and I just believe that Fernando Verdasco should be a stronger favourite in my opinion.

Let's not beat around the bush- Verdasco has not had the most consistent of two seasons and he hasn't really shown a lot of positive form since beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

However, he does have a 3-0 head to head against Denis Istomin and that kind of positive vibe will not be lost on a player that may have lost some confidence after recent results. Istomin did reach the Quarter Final in Eastbourne and the Fourth Round at Wimbledon so he is clearly comfortable on the grass courts, but he can be a little hit and miss and it is hard to see him so short to beat a player like Verdasco.

It has the makings of a three set match, but it is one that I believe Verdasco can win and move on to the Second Round.

MY PICKS: David Nalbandian @ 2.60 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
John Isner - 3.5 games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games @ 2.01 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco @ 1.84 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Friday, 27 July 2012

Outright Picks London Olympics (July 28-August 5)

I took the last week off from making any picks from the three tennis tournaments going on as I felt there was just not enough motivation for some of the better players with this event beginning on Saturday 28th July.

While it is a smaller event than the Grand Slams, it still needs to be given a lot of respect as it actually has more participants than the Masters events that will be taking place in North America in the first couple of weeks in August.

There are a couple of notable absentees, but the major one is Rafael Nadal and that has skewed the Men's outright winner market with two clear favourites in Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. In the Women's tournament, Serena Williams has continuously seen her coming in as the favourite since winning at Wimbledon at the beginning of the month.

Men's Tournament
First Quarter
For the first time in a long time, Roger Federer will be heading up the draw and he has been given an intriguing First Round match against Alejandro Falla who had match points against Federer back in the First Round at Wimbledon in 2010. On that occasion, Falla actually won the first two sets and that would be enough for him to earn the win this time although I think the Colombian is unlikely to play to the level he did in that match a couple of years ago.

Federer could also potentially meet Julian Benneteau in the Second Round, a player that had a two set lead over the World Number 1 in the Third Round at Wimbledon this year, but it would be a big surprise if the confidence of winning at Wimbledon sees Federer drop to either of these players.

The Quarter as a whole looks there for the taking for Federer and I don't expect him to miss out with the importance he has put on earning a Gold Medal as a singles player for the first time. However, there is a potentially awkward match against John Isner that could be set for the Quarter Final.

Isner won a recent tournament at Newport on the grass, but he has not really fulfilled the promise of a season where he has beaten Federer in a best of five sets match on a clay court in Switzerland. He was beaten in the First Round at Wimbledon, but the best of three sets played at Wimbledon may just suit him a little more, although it would be a big surprise if anyone but Roger Federer is playing in the Semi Final.

Prediction: Got to be Roger Federer after winning Wimbledon and with a kind looking draw

Second Quarter
David Ferrer is the top seed in this section thanks to the absence of Rafael Nadal and it looks like this could be his third successful foray on to the grass courts this season alone. Ferrer won the tournament ahead of Wimbledon in Holland and then reached the Quarter Final at the Grand Slam.

The Spaniard looks like he is going to have a little too much consistency for anyone else in the section and he has a winning record over most of his potential opponents ahead of the Quarter Final here.

Some out there will be intrigued by Juan Martin Del Potro who is a potential opponent at that stage, but I remain convinced that the Argentine is not comfortable on the grass courts despite seemingly having all the tools that should make him a success. However, the lower bouncing balls makes it harder for him to dominate behind his groundstrokes in my opinion and he won just 8 games against Ferrer when they met in the Fourth Round at Wimbledon earlier this month.

He also has a couple of potentially awkward matches against Andreas Seppi, Grigor Dimitrov or Gilles Simon in his mini-section and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the big man doesn't reach the Quarter Final. Del Potro does have the quality to get to that stage, but all three of those players I mentioned can play very well on the grass courts and could cause a surprise.

Prediction: David Ferrer has the consistency, the quality and the draw to get through to the Semi Final

Third Quarter
After the disappointment of the Wimbledon Final, Andy Murray will get his Olympic Gold Medal search underway but he won't be that happy with the draw. I remember we heard all the same things ahead of Wimbledon this year, but I actually this is a little more awkward than that one mainly because a best of three match can be finished before a player really gets going.

That will be the case for Murray if he doesn't have the right mindset with Stanislas Wawrinka his first opponent on slate, a player that has had a tough season for consistency but one that can perform well on the grass.

Further danger may lie in the Third Round where a rematch of his tough Wimbledon match with Marcos Baghdatis could await or a match with Richard Gasquet. I personally think Baghdatis would be the more dangerous opponent as Gasquet has a mental block it seems in matches he is not expected to win.

Tomas Berdych may provide the biggest danger to Murray as a potential Quarter Final opponent, but the Czech player needs to find form quickly if he is to get through to the Semi Final. He was a disappointing First Round loser at Wimbledon and was also beaten by Tommy Haas in his second match at Halle and has perhaps been under-performing in 2012 despite winning over 70% of his matches.

If the big man can find a bit of form, the draw looks like one that will suit him with the biggest problem likely to come from his rival Nicolas Almagro in the Third Round. However, the Spaniard hasn't got the best form on grass courts and Berdych should be too good on this surface.

Prediction: Tomas Berdych has a winning record over Andy Murray and may just be too good in a best of three set potential Quarter Final

Fourth Quarter
The final Quarter of the draw has a number of players that will consider the grass courts as being comfortable to play on- the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic, Feliciano Lopez, Marin Cilic, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic all are involved in the section and there are the potential of some really interesting matches.

Novak Djokovic is the favourite for the tournament, but he has a really awkward looking match with Andy Roddick on slate in the Second Round, while a potential Third Round match with Marin Cilic will not be easy after the Croatian won at Queens last month.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could be awaiting a chance to gain some revenge over Djokovic after coming so close to beating him at the French Open a couple of months ago, but there is no guarantee the Frenchman can reach that stage as he has a potential match with Milos Raonic in the Second Round and that looks like it could be a long three setter with a couple of tie-breaks thrown in.

Prediction: I'd be a fool to write off Novak Djokovic reaching the Semi Final, but there are so many dangers throughout this section that I can see him going out at some point before the last four... Who takes advantage is anyone's guess?!

Gold Medal Winner
I think Roger Federer has to be very pleased with the draw that he has been given and he is likely to be secretly very happy to note that his nemesis Rafael Nadal will not be at the tournament.

After winning Wimbledon, Federer achieved a couple of his main goals for the 2012 season and that was winning a Grand Slam and reclaiming the World Number 1 spot. That should also give him plenty of confidence that he can win the last remaining piece that is missing on his CV as a singles player and that is the Gold Medal at this tournament.

Winning Wimbledon would also have shown Federer that he can beat anyone on the grass courts and he has the added bonus of not having to meet Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic until the Final when the Gold Medal is decided in a best of five sets match. I believe that will give Federer a little bit of mental comfort that the biggest threats to him winning this tournament would have to beat him over the longer distance rather than the best of three that can quickly get away against the best players (and would have seen him come VERY close to defeat at Wimbledon against Murray if that was decided in a best of three rather than five).

I am not surprised that Federer has joined Djokovic in the outright markets and he will be my main choice from the Men's draw.

The other pick I will make is Tomas Berdych as an each-way pick. I think he is questionable with the way his form has been over the last three months, but the likes of Murray and Djokovic have some really awkward looking matches in front of them and Berdych may just be able to take advantage.

The vast difference in prices makes the Czech player more appealing than those two, while he has seen it and done it before at Wimbledon as a former Finalist a couple of years ago.

Women's Tournament
First Quarter
After her run to the Semi Final at Wimbledon, Victoria Azarenka returned to the World Number 1 position and is thus given the honour of heading up the draw at the Olympics.

The first three Rounds of the draw don't seem to provide too many issues for Azarenka to negotiate, although a potential Third Round clash with Nadia Petrova wouldn't be an easy match. However, Azarenka has won the last two meetings with Petrova, both on a grass court no less, and I would favour her to be too good overall in that match.

It is at the Quarter Final stage that Azarenka is likely to face her biggest obstacle as she could play Angelique Kerber, the other Semi Finalist at Wimbledon that exited at that stage.

Kerber is the most likely opponent despite having Venus Williams in her mini-section of the draw, but I think the German is going to be too strong for the elder Williams sister that has struggled for consistency with the syndrome she is dealing with. As it is one that saps energy, I find it hard to believe Venus can roll back the clock in a tournament where players are likely going to play every day and so I do believe Kerber is the player that will move through to the Quarter Final.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka looks the class in this section, but Angelique Kerber has shown how dangerous she can be on the grass courts.

Second Quarter
Serena Williams is rightly the favourite for this tournament after winning at Wimbledon and she should be fully motivated as winning the Singles Gold Medal will complete her career and ensure she has won everything possible while also matching older sister Venus who won in Sydney back in 2000.

The draw, on first viewing, looks to have been unkind to the Number 4 Seed, but I think Serena won't be too concerned. A match with Jelena Jankovic would have been a really tough one a couple of years ago, but the Serb is far from her best and she hasn't shown the pedigree needed to beat Serena on a grass court.

It would be more than a surprise if Serena Williams is not playing in the Quarter Final in a few days time.

Her opponent at that stage is not so obvious to pick as there are players that are very capable on going on a run- Caroline Wozniacki, Daniela Hantuchova, Na Li, Yanina Wickmayer and Tamira Paszek are all in this mini-section of the draw and it is the Austrian that I think may come through after her exploits at Wimbledon last month.

Paszek has shown she is more than capable on the grass courts and has been in the best form of the players I mentioned and I think she may be able to come through as long as she can bring her form from Wimbledon in.

Prediction: Regardless of who she plays in the Quarter Final, it is hard to look beyond Serena Williams here

Third Quarter
This section is all about whether Maria Sharapova can gain a measure of revenge against Sabine Lisicki, the player that beat her at Wimbledon last month. These two players are due to meet in the Third Round in this tournament, and I would expect the winner of that match will be the favourite to get through to the Semi Final.

One potential roadblock in the Quarter Final is Kim Clijsters although she will have to play a little better than she did at Wimbledon when hammered by Angelique Kerber.

However, there are other threats in this mini-section as the likes of Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic are likely opponents for Clijsters. However, Stosur has consistently under-performed when playing on the grass courts despite having what looks the right tools to play on the surface and Ana Ivanovic is still very inconsistent and wouldn't beat a fully-fit Clijsters in my opinion.

Prediction: This is a tough section, but I do believe the winner of it will be the winner of the Sabine Lisicki-Maria Sharapova match in the Third Round... That is a really close one to call in my opinion, but I think Sharapova's motivation for revenge may just send the pendulum her way

Fourth Quarter
This section comes down to two players as far as I am concerned and those two are Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Both have shown their pedigree on the grass courts and had their Wimbledon runs ended by the same player in Serena Williams. Petra Kvitova was a Quarter Final victim the year after winning at Wimbledon, while Radwanska was the runner-up after showing some real resolve in overcoming an illness.

Of the two players, I think Kvitova has the more negotiable path to the Quarter Final and I fully expect her to make use of her draw and get to that stage.

On the other hand, Radwanska has a tough beginning against Julia Goerges, but it is the potential Third Round match with Maria Kirilenko that could really pose the most problems. Kirilenko pushed Radwanska to three sets in their Quarter Final at Wimbledon last month and that was one that could easily have gone either way.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska has a tough looking draw and I believe Petra Kvitova moves through the draw to the Semi Final

Gold Medal Winner
Much as I said about the Men's event, it is hard to overlook a player that has achieved it all in the game as a Singles player and one who should be fully motivated to pick up the last prize on the list of achievement players set out for at the beginning of their career.

Serena Williams, like Roger Federer, can only strengthen their position at the top of the Women's game and their place in history by winning this Gold Medal and I don't see too many players that are capable of beating her if I am honest, particularly not on the grass courts.

Williams will also be full of confidence having won at Wimbledon earlier this month and she will be my main pick from the Women's draw.

I'll also have an each-way interest on Petra Kvitova in the bottom half of the draw after her achievements at Wimbledon over the last three years- she has won the event, reached a Semi Final and a Quarter Final and has only been beaten by Serena Williams in those events.

In that time, Kvitova has knocked off Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka (twice), Tsvetana Pironkova and Caroline Wozniacki at Wimbledon, while also earning wins over Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska on the grass courts.

That list of names is not to be ignored and I think the Czech player has been given a draw to work her way into the tournament and could be a real threat this time next week.

MY PICKS: Roger Federer @ 2.75 Paddy Power (4 Units)
Tomas Berdych @ 41.00 Boyle Sports (1 Unit E/W)
Serena Williams @ 2.80 Boyle Sports (4 Units)
Petra Kvitova @ 9.00 Bet Victor (1 Unit E/W)

Tennis Profit/Loss Recap

Daily Picks Final: 5-9, - 6.21 Units (22 Units Staked)

Outright Picks: - 2 Units (2 Units Staked)

Week Final: - 8.21 Units (24 Units Staked)

Season 2012: + 59.33 Units (654 Units Staked, 9.07% Yield)

Season 2011: + 82.02 Units

Friday, 20 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 20th

The biggest news from the tennis world yesterday was the declaration of Rafael Nadal that he will not be taking part in the Olympics in ten days time because he is 'in no condition' to do so.

It does pose a lot of question marks about how much Nadal can achieve during the rest of the season as the last Grand Slam of the year is fast approaching, while the indoor season has never really sat well with the Spaniard.

The real question that needs to be answered at the moment is what exactly is wrong with Nadal? Is the injury as serious as the knee issues that forced him to miss Wimbledon back in 2009 after a surprise early exit to Robin Soderling at the French Open? Or is this just a precautionary move from Nadal in a bid to get himself in top shape going into the US Open.

There isn't a lot of time between the Olympic Games and the Master event in Toronto and Cincinnati with just days between the First Round in Canada and the Gold Medal match in London.

It leads to the issue of the Ranking points that Nadal has over the coming months and whether there is a real possibility that he will fall out of the top three in the Rankings- he doesn't have many points to defend from Canada and Cincinnati, but Andy Murray may have closed the gap before those tournaments with a good performance at the Olympics, while missing the US Open would almost guarantee that Nadal is falling below the British player.

Right now we don't have much information as to why Nadal has pulled out except he is 'in no condition' to be playing- it has come out of left field as he was tweeting pictures of himself preparing for the Games and I wonder if he has had some news or a setback in training with his knees constantly scrutinised.

I have read some articles that have questioned whether Nadal is at a 'crossroads' in his career, but that is an extreme reaction to someone who may just be getting in shape for the rest of the season knowing he already has a Gold Medal safely in his trophy cabinet. It's far too early and there is not enough information to be making grand statements like those writers have been making, but I will be looking on with interest to see if Nadal is ready for the two Masters events that will begin on August 6th.

One player that may benefit the most from the absence of the Spaniard is Roger Federer who has always wanted a Gold Medal from the singles tournaments. He did win one with Stanislas Wawrinka in the doubles four years ago, but Federer will never have had a better chance to win the 'Golden Slam' and leave him just one Davis Cup short of winning everything possible in the game.

I don't think Federer will fear anyone on the grass courts, especially after winning Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, and I expect him to be in contention of the medals. The absence of Nadal is a boost to his chances, even if he would never admit that in public, and I think he should be the favourite to win the event.

However, there is still the matter of where Andy Murray lands in the draw as the Brit is capable of beating one of the top two seeds, particularly in the best of three format that will be used in this event so there are still some hurdles for Federer to overcome if he is to pick up the top prize.

The picks have had another tough week so far, with some poor picks but also a little bit of bad luck that hasn't fallen for us. Anabel Medina Garrigues failed to serve out a match against Laura Robson and thus missed the cover, while Jeremy Chardy dominated his match with Julian Reister but couldn't cover and earned the push as he had started serving second in the match.

With Kevin Anderson also exiting in Atlanta, that means the only outright pick of the week is already out of the tournament and means this will be the last day I make picks from this weeks tournaments if I don't see a change in fortune.

Nicolas Almagro - 2 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: Both men have made fairly comfortable progress through to this Quarter Final match and it will be a close one as Philipp Kohlschreiber is leading the head to head against Nicolas Almagro 4-3.

However, I do feel the clay courts give Almagro the edge and he will feel he can at least replicate the performance that saw him reach the Final in this event last season. He has won all four sets he has played this week and he will feel he can add to the two titles he has won on the clay courts this season as well as continuing the form that took him to the Final in Bastad last week.

Kohlschreiber is no mug on the surface, but he is only 4-4 outside of a tournament win in Munich earlier this season and he was actually beaten by Almagro in the Third Round here last season.

Both have decent serves and I wouldn't be surprised if one of the sets ends up in a tie-break, but I think Almagro is a little more consistent of the two when it comes to matches on clay and that is why I am backing him to cover the spread here.

Feliciano Lopez + 3 games v Thomaz Bellucci: Two left-handers will play one another in this Quarter Final with a real belief that they can get through and perhaps even go on and win this tournament.

Feliciano Lopez is not the normal Spaniard in that he feels much more comfortable on the faster courts than he does on the clay, but he has finished with a winning record on this surface in each of the last three seasons. He will also have been given a boost with the news that he will be able to represent Spain in the Olympic Games now that Rafael Nadal has had to withdraw from the event.

He will need to perform well if he is to beat Thomaz Bellucci as the Brazilian has won a Challenger and reached the Semi Final of a Main Tour event over the last couple of weeks. That amount of tennis can take its toll eventually and he has also lost his previous two meetings with Lopez.

I think there is every chance that Bellucci wins this match, but I think it will be a close one and Lopez is capable of winning a set which should hopefully ensure that we get a push at the very worst.

Ernests Gulbis v Paul-Henri Mathieu: There isn't a lot I am going to write about this match except I am surprised to see Ernests Gulbis is the underdog against Paul-Henri Mathieu and so has to be worth chancing at the prices on offer.

Mathieu has had a couple of injury hit seasons on the Tour and this is the first time he has been in action since retiring from Wimbledon with an injury to his back. This is the first Quarter Final on the Main Tour that the Frenchman has played this season and I just feel he might be a little over-rated having beaten Stanislas Wawrinka in the last Round.

He plays an enigmatic opponent in Gulbis, one whose performances can be up and down from day to day but who should be confident having recorded a couple of three set wins to reach this Quarter Final. With Gulbis being a total confidence based player, I think he will feel he is good enough in this one to take care of an opponent that hasn't had too many matches this season.

I would take a very small interest in the match as Gulbis is not exactly the most reliable player on the Tour.

Tsvetana Pironkova v Polona Hercog: I don't like backing Tsvetana Pironkova outside of the grass courts as she doesn't really translate that form to the other nine months of the season.

However, she has won a couple of matches here in Bastad and I like her chances of beating Polona Hercog as the underdog in this one.

While I have some reservations about Pironkova, she is actually enjoying a winning season so far, something she has not finished with in the previous four seasons. The Bulgarian has also won her two matches against Hercog and is facing an opponent that had lost seven of her last eight matches before winning a couple of matches here.

Hercog actually won the tournament here last season and was very adept at playing on the clay courts in 2011, but she has struggled to find that consistency so far in 2012 and she has not been winning many matches of late.

The two wins in the earlier Rounds will have given her confidence, but I think Pironkova looks a lively dog and I will have a small interest in her picking up the win.

MY PICKS: Sofia Arvidsson - 3 games @ 1.94 Pinnacle (2 Units) Was picked yesteday but rain delayed the match until today
Nicolas Almagro - 2 games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez + 3 games @ 2.09 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis @ 2.29 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Tsvetana Pirnokova @ 2.17 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Weekly Update: 3-6, - 5.93 Units (14 Units Staked)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 19th

Sofia Arvidsson - 3 games v Arantxa Rus: Sofia Arvidsson was a surprise winner in the First Round over Roberta Vinci, but she will be looking to at least replicate the run that saw her reach the Semi Final here last season in what is her home tournament.

She faces the young Dutch player Arantxa Rus and should be full of confidence that she can beat her having won twice against her in 2012 already.

Rus did reach the Semi Final of a Challenger event on the clay courts last week so is clearly in some sort of form, but she was only 3-3 on the Main Tour in clay court matches before reaching the Fourth Round in the French Open.

I imagine this match will have a number of breaks of serves in it, but I do think Arvidsson is going to be the person that has more than Rus and wins this match likely 6-4, 6-3.

Marcel Granollers - 3.5 games v Lukasz Kubot: Marcel Granollers is the reigning Champion here in Gstaad and I think he will be too strong for Lukasz Kubot in this Second Round match.

Granollers reached the Semi Final last week in Umag, but he can be a little inconsistent and that is a slight concern for me as he is capable of losing a set when he loses focus.

On the other hand, Kubot has not really enjoyed a lot of success on clay courts and I think Granollers is the player that is more comfortable on the surface and that could be the difference between the players in the match.

The Spaniard has won the previous two meetings against Kubot, both coming on clay courts, and I think he will complete the hat-trick.

Jeremy Chardy - 4 games v Julian Reister: These two players meet for the second consecutive week in a row and I like Jeremy Chardy to record another win over Julian Reister following a 6-2, 6-4 win in Stuttgart last week.

Reister caused a huge surprise in the First Round when he beat seeded Fernando Verdasco in straight sets and there is every chance that the German will be in a let-down spot following that big win. Even though Verdasco is not the force of a couple of years ago, a win over the Spaniard on a clay court is still impressive, particularly in the ease in which it was delivered.

However, the let-down has to be a concern for Reister in this one, while he is also playing a player in decent nick of late. Chardy has already recorded more wins on the Main Tour this season than he did in the whole of last season and I think he has the serve in this match to make the difference between the players.

Chardy is likely to get a lot more cheap points behind his serve and he showed last week that he can get a good read on the Reister serve and that should put him in a good spot to get the cover in this one. I wouldn't be surprised to see Chardy win this one 6-4, 6-3.

MY PICKS: Sofia Arvidsson - 3 games @ 1.94 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marcel Granollers - 3.5 games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 4 games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units) To be Completed 1-1 (Rain delay at time of writing)

Weekly Update: 3-4, - 1.93 Units (10 Units Staked)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 18th

I haven't put this post up any sooner as I didn't really like anything from the tournaments played in Europe so I was waiting for full markets from the layers for the tournaments in Atlanta and Carlsbad.

Yesterday was a mixed bag really, but it was the money management that let the picks down. Hopefully that will improve as the week moves on.

Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games v Michael Russell: I have already tipped up Kevin Anderson to win this tournament, but I do like his chances against the veteran Michael Russell who had a three setter last night.

Anderson was a little rusty in his First Round win over Paulo Lorenzi, but he managed to get through in straight sets and that win should put in a good place. The South African will also look back to last season when he beat Russell at this tournament in straight sets.

The veteran American still has a decent first serve that can help him set up points, but his second serve is a little vulnerable and that is where Anderson can make hay. I expect there to be more pressure on the Russell service games as he will know that he won't have too many chances to break the Anderson serve and that can lead to anxiety at crucial times.

Russell actually leads the head to head between the players 3-2, but I am expecting Anderson to win this one 6-4, 6-4.

MY PICK: Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-4, - 1.93 Units (10 Units Staked)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 17th

At the time of writing, the rain has come down in Atlanta and that has left the second pick I made on Monday in a bit of limbo. I am continuing to have an eye on the Atlanta pictures while I am writing this thread, otherwise I will just update the profit/loss at the bottom of the page tomorrow (now been completed with a win for Gilles Muller).

I will also only be making picks from the three tournaments taking place in Europe at this time and I will come back tomorrow for any picks made from the two tournaments taking place in the United States.

I don't usually like making a lot of picks from any day as regular readers will know, but I have found a few underdogs that look like they may be worth chancing as well as some strong looking favourites.

Without much ado, it is on to the picks:

Pablo Andujar v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: This is a First Round battle between two Spanish players that will be very happy to be playing on the clay courts, but both will also be short of confidence after recent results.

This has been set as a pick 'em contest, but I do like Pablo Andujar's chances of winning his sixth match from seven tries against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Both players have been losing a lot of matches in recent weeks with Andujar losing seven of his last eight matches and Ramos losing five of his last six. The grass court season was never really going to sit well with either player, although Ramos can at least point to the fact that he had to play Roger Federer in the First Round at Wimbledon.

Andujar has actually won his last four matches against Ramos, the last three of those coming in straight sets including twice earlier this year on the clay courts. That makes it more surprising that he has been set as the underdog in this one as the form isn't much different between the players and the mental edge belongs to Andujar.

Lukas Rosol v Victor Troicki: Lukas Rosol may have played the best game of his life when he beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, but he has returned to his bread and better on the Tour in a bid to pick up more Ranking points and try and get into the top 100.

He meets Victor Troicki here in Hamburg and I do like Rosol's chances of securing a surprise victory considering how Troicki has played on this surface during this season and with a real chance that the Serb will be more concentrated on playing at the Olympic Games in a couple of weeks time.

It is a surprise to see Troicki out on the circuit this week considering he took an extended break after Wimbledon last season and I am not sure what he hopes to gain from this week. That 'lack of motivation' may give Rosol the edge considering these points are all vital in his bid to move up the Rankings.

These two have played two close matches this season with each picking up a win. Rosol's win came in a dead rubber in the Davis Cup, but that did come on a clay court and he may just pick up a surprise win here.

Dustin Brown v Sergiy Stakhovsky: This is more a pick against Sergiy Stakhovsky rather than backing Dustin Brown, but I do think the German qualifier may just have the edge and can take the win in yet another pick 'em contest.

Stakhovsky suffered an injury in his loss to Tommy Haas at the French Open and that has led to him retiring in two subsequent tournaments before exiting in the First Round last week in Stuttgart.

Brown did well to reach the Quarter Final last week in Stuttgart having won a couple of matches as the underdog before falling to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and he has already won three matches here to get into the main draw and all that should have him ready for the conditions and able to cause a slight surprise.

Unfortunately the two places with the best prices on Dustin Brown do not pay out in terms of a retirement, but I would be surprised if Stakhovsky does that having fallen in a three set match last week.

Anabel Medina Garrigues - 3.5 games v Laura Robson: There won't be too many regular readers of these picks or the recaps I have at the end of every week that are unaware of how high I am on the talent that Laura Robson possesses. However, I think this is a far tougher match for her than the layers like to think and I believe Anabel Medina Garrigues will be able to win the match fairly comfortably.

The Spanish player lost in the First Round while Robson went all the way to the Semi Final in Palermo last week, but I do think Medina Garrigues is one of the more solid clay courts players in this field in Bastad and may have a little too much know how and experience for the British number 3.

Robson can get hot in matches and that is the only concern I would have for this pick, but Medina Garrigues thrashed her for the loss of just three games at the French Open a couple of months ago and also comfortably saw off the challenge of Robson at the US Open last season.

I expect Medina Garrigues is going to continue to get enough balls back in play and hope that Robson's inconsistencies haunt her and it has been the unforced errors in the Robson game that has cost her the last two matches against this player.

Michael Russell - 3.5 games v Alex Kuznetsov: It isn't easy playing a compatriot at the best of times, but it must be extremely difficult when you have lost all 9 previous matches against an opponent.

That is the task facing Alex Kuznetsov today as he faces the veteran Michael Russell and I have a feeling it will be one loaded with too many mental questions and one he may not be able to pass.

Russell remains a solid 'gatekeeper' when it comes to tennis in the United States, although Kuznetsov will at least have familiarity on his side as he has won three qualifying matches to get to this stage.

The problem isn't just the fact that he has struggled against Russell in the past and failed to win, but the fact that he has lost the last 11 sets they have competed in and has won just ONE set in the nine previous matches.

Russell is obviously on the way down the hill, but I don't think he has fallen to a level where Kuznetsov will beat him and I can see a 6-3, 7-6 win for the veteran.

MY PICKS: Pablo Andujar @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Lukas Rosol @ 2.25 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Dustin Brown @ 1.92 Stan James (1 Unit)
Anabel Medina Garrigues - 3.5 games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Michael Russell - 3.5 games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, + 0.90 Units (3 Units Staked)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 16th

It is another busy week on the calender and these will be my opening picks of the week. The last week was not the best as I started badly and never really recovered, while Juan Monaco could have at least limited the losses from the daily picks if he had not blown the Final in Stuttgart from what looked like a promising position.

I have only made the one outright pick this week and that can be seen here

The first day of the new tournaments always seem to take the layers a little longer to get their prices out so I will make any picks I want from those tournaments in Europe now and come back on the day to make any picks from the two events taking place in North America.

Carlos Berlocq v Gilles Simon: The defending Champion in Hamburg may be Gilles Simon, but this looks like a match that could see a big surprise as the Frenchman could very easily be bounced before the end of the first day of the tournament this season.

Carlos Berlocq won a couple of rounds last week in Umag to get through to the Quarter Final there and that may be a sign that the Argentine is getting back to the form that he was displaying earlier in the season during the clay court swing in South America.

During that run of form, Berlocq actually beat Simon twice in tournaments in Acapulco and Buenos Aires and he may just be able to surprise him again in this early stage.

Simon is a player that is capable of grinding out a result against Berlocq, there is no doubt about that, but moving from the grass courts to the clay courts can make players vulnerable in the early stages. Simon actually lost the first match he played on clay following Wimbledon last season and there is a chance that that could happen again here.

Gilles Muller v Marinko Matosevic: This is going to be the only other pick I am making today and it comes from the tournament in Atlanta.

Gilles Muller is a big serving left-hander, but he is having a downward season compared with 2011. However, he did have a successful time on the hard courts here in North America last Summer, reaching the Semi Final in this event and also the Fourth Round at the US Open.

He faces the Australian Marinko Matosevic who did reach the Final at Delray Beach earlier this season, but one that has not really had a lot of success on the Main Tour on the hard courts. He is just 5-14 outside of the performance at Delray Beach over the last three seasons and this looks like being a tough prospect for him against an opponent that can serve very big at times and make it tough to feel you are involved in a match.

A lot of layers have placed this as a pick 'em contest, but Muller looks worth chancing to make it through to the Second Round.

MY PICKS: Carlos Berlocq @ 2.50 William Hill (1 Unit)
Gilles Muller @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Tennis Outright Picks July 16-22

The tennis continues this week with three ATP tournaments and two WTA tournaments, but it remains the case that most of the big guns will still be in preparation for the Olympic Games which will begin in two weeks time.

As I did last week, I won't break down the individual tournaments, but instead will focus on the selections and why they have been made.

The tournament in Atlanta is the only one that I will focus on this week and I am going to be backing a player from the top half of the draw that should be very comfortable on the hard courts of North America and also does not have the concern of taking part in the Olympic Games on his mind.

Kevin Anderson married his girlfriend from the United States and that meant applying for a Green Card to stay in the country. That also meant he was unable to represent South Africa in the Davis Cup and so misses the chance to play in the Olympic Games and that means his focus should already be locked on in performing on the hard courts in preparation for the US Open.

The big serving player has already won a tournament on the hard courts this season when he won at Delray Beach, and his opposition here takes a similar route if he is to win this one. Anderson beat Xavier Malisse, Andy Roddick and John Isner to get through to the Final and the draw here means he is to face a tough veteran like Michael Russell before taking on the same two Americans as Delray Beach in the same order.

Anderson is more than capable of beating both Roddick and Isner again in this tournament and I think there is every chance he gets to the Final at the least and he looks worth chancing at 11.00. He has won the last two matches against Roddick and also won his last two matches against Isner so I am a little surprised that he is considered the least likely of those three players to get through and try and win this event.

I did think about some of the other tournaments and prospective winners, but I found there were a number of question marks surrounding motivation, while others had some really tough draws to negotiate and were a lot shorter in the market than I am interested in taking.

For anyone that may have been interested, I did consider taking Sara Errani to win the tournament in Bastad and Stanislas Wawrinka to win his home tournament in Gstaad, but my concerns ended up outweighing the positives with both players.

Errani won a tournament in Palermo last week and it can be tough to win back to back events on the Main Tour in either the ATP or the WTA, while she also has a couple of opponents that may cause problems for someone ranked at 3.25 to win in Bastad.

Wawrinka also has a tough draw and looks a little short in the market considering he has yet to win in Gstaad in the past and only reached one Final there in eight years.

MY PICK: Kevin Anderson @ 11.00 Boyle Sports (1 Unit E/W)

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tennis Recap July 9-15

It wasn't a great week on the circuit for me, but more of that below.

It is unusual for the calender to be so busy in the week following a Grand Slam event, but the Olympic Games means a slight shift in emphasis this season and that has meant a number of tournaments are getting their events through before the players head to North America for the hard court season and preparation for the US Open.

Four years ago, the Olympics actually took place after the two Masters events in Cincinnati and Canada, but this year they are fitted in ahead of the two big tournaments and thus giving the players a little more normality in their play. The biggest issue is going to be the lack of time between the Olympic tournament and the Toronto Masters starting and the change from grass to hard courts in the space of a few days could see a lot more surprising results early in that tournament.

Anyway, here are a couple of things that have popped up from the events taking place this week.

Laura Robson's first Semi Final appearance: It was a slightly disappointing end to the tournament in Palermo for Laura Robson as she made too many errors in the loss, but the run to the Semi Final on a clay court does bode well for her development as far as I am concerned.

The only real fear for her at the moment is that she won't develop the tactical side of her game to go with all the power she has. That may make her a player like, for example, Lucie Safarova that is capable of blowing past some top players when everything is working for her, but too often fails to keep things going consistently enough to beat the rest regularly.

Now that is not to say that Safarova hasn't done well in her career already, but sometimes you have to look to achieve more especially with the talent that Robson does possess.

I am still sure that Robson is going to be the most successful British Female player for over twenty years, but I really hope the LTA and her coaches don't ruin what could be a real diamond.

Big week for Lleyton Hewitt, but the exception rather than the norm these days: Lleyton Hewitt is an under-rated player as far as I am concerned, with a lot of people likely to look back at his career and feel he won his Grand Slam titles in a small period where Pete Sampras was no longer the force of old and Roger Federer was yet to make his breakthrough on the Main Tour.

He was a real fighter back in his prime and could give a lot of players a lot of problems with his ability to turn defence into attack within a couple of shots. However, those days are long gone and I think we may look back at Newport as being a tournament where Hewitt put things together for a short while before blending into fields.

The tournament here was not exactly loaded with top-level talent either, especially the half in which Hewitt was placed, but I think it says a lot that he was still 40-1 to win the event... To me, that shows how far he is from his best.

The problem for Hewitt is that he seems to have lost a step on the court so no longer can play defence as he used to and he doesn't have the big shots to prevent falling into long rallies.

I am not sure how long the Australian has left on the circuit these days, but it was nice to see him have at least one more successful week.

Daily Picks Final: 3-8, - 6.08 Units (18 Units Staked)

Outright Picks Final: + 0.50 Units (3 Units Staked)

Week Final: - 5.58 Units (21 Units Staked)

Season 2012: + 67.54 Units (630 Units Staked, 10.7% Yield)

Season 2011: + 82.02 Units

Tennis Picks July 15th

This post is a little later than usual as I wasn't going to make a pick from the first two Finals that were to be played at Bastad and Stuttgart respectively.

The whole week's success or failure can be determined this week as two of the outright picks have actually got through to their respective Finals and both are favoured to win the matches.

Juan Monaco did his very best to not reach this stage as he blew a 5-0 lead in the final set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez before winning 7-5, but he has just started his match against Janko Tipsarevic in Stuttgart.

Marin Cilic is the other player that was picked at the start of the week and he is a big favourite to take care of Marcel Granollers in the Final at Umag. My only concern was that Cilic lost at this stage last season at his home event when he was also favoured to win the match.

Lleyton Hewitt + 2.5 games v John Isner: Lleyton Hewitt has shown some decent form here in Newport this week and it is clearly the best form of the season since the Australian Open.

I think he can pose John Isner problems as Hewitt has always given the biggest servers (outside of Ivo Karlovic anyway) some issues and I think the Australian will at least win a set in this one.

He also has won all three previous meetings with Isner and I think Hewitt can at least push Isner to a point where these 2.5 games come into play.

As long as Hewitt doesn't throw in too many poor service games, I expect he may close to winning his first title of the season and moving up the Rankings.

MY PICK: Lleyton Hewitt + 2.5 games @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-7, - 4.08 Units (16 Units Staked)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 14th

It has not been a good week so far for the picks made as I dropped to 1-6, but with two players still involved from the outright picks, there is still plenty of potential for the week to end on a high.

The biggest story, as far as I am concerned, from the play so far this week is the semi-breakthrough Laura Robson is having in Palermo where she has reached the Semi Final of a Main Tour tournament for the first time in her young career.

I have said many times that I believe Robson has all the tools to become a good player, but she needs the tactical advice to put her game together. I haven't seen much of her matches at all this week, but the clay courts are unforgiving to those that want to 'ball bash' as much as possible without the patience to construct points so that is a real positive sign that Robson has done so well on the clay so far.

She hasn't had an easy path either as you can get those during the week following a Grand Slam event. Robson has beaten Roberta Vinci and Carla Suarez Navarro and both of those are more than just solid clay court players so real credit has to be given to the teenager for the week so far.

I actually think Robson has a winnable Semi Final too and I expect a leap back into the top 100 next week after this run and hopefully it will be the start of many things to come.

Before anyone asks, I am not one of these people that solely look at the success of their own nation's players- personally I think tennis is a sport where you can appreciate someone's talents regardless of where they are born as shown by the fact that David Nalbandian, Juan Martin Del Potro, Janko Tipsarevic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are some of my favourite players on the Tour.

However, I have stated my admiration for the way Laura Robson plays and I do think she is capable of reaching the top 20 and possibly higher if she can learn the best way to use all the tools she has at her disposal.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Jan Hajek: This is slightly a risky choice considering the poor performances Nicolas Almagro has put in during his first two matches here, but the fact the Spaniard is still standing means I have to back him against what looks an overmatched Jan Hajek.

Hajek has done very well to reach this Semi Final stage considering he had not played one match on the Main Tour this season after ending last season with a 1-10 record. He has been playing well on the Challenger Tour which would have built up confidence, but Hajek just doesn't come across players of the quality of Almagro on any kind of regular basis.

Almagro is a top 10 player and is set to surpass the successes of last season and must feel he has a real chance of finishing in a position to get to the End of Year Championships for the first time in his career. He has been putting together much more consistent performances and he has two titles on the clay courts from earlier this season.

If he can put in a more solid performance than he has in the first two matches he has played here, I do like Almagro to be a little too strong for Hajek.

Juan Monaco - 4.5 games v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: I have already picked Juan Monaco to win the tournament in Stuttgart this week, but I also think he is worth chancing to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez with a little gap in the game handicap in this Semi Final.

Monaco has played pretty well this week and the same has to be said of Garcia-Lopez, but it is the Argentine that has showed more consistency over the course of the season and I expect he will be able to control the match which will be played in long rallies.

This is the toughest opponent Garcia-Lopez would have faced this week and I think Monaco has shown enough that he is likely to win most of the extended rallies. The problem for Garcia-Lopez is that he doesn't really have the big serve to rely on and that means he is going to have to gut out every point, something that can take a toll when Monaco is as consistent as he can be.

Monaco also holds a comfortable 3-1 head to head record against the Spaniard, winning on each of the last three occasions they have faced one another. I expect he will get his fourth straight win in this Semi Final.

John Isner - 2.5 games v Ryan Harrison: I thought John Isner looked a vulnerable top seed at the start of the week, but he has played himself into some kind of form and I believe that his serve will put enough pressure on Ryan Harrison that he will find a way to get the win in straight sets.

Harrison is an improving player all the time and he is a real hope for the American public that will be looking for the next generation of stars now that Andy Roddick is almost at the end of his own career. There are genuine concerns in the United States that they are not producing the calibre of players like the John McEnroe's, Andre Agassi's, Pete Sampras' and Andy Roddick's of the past, but Harrison is their one hope coming through in the immediate future.

The problem can be Harrison's temper which can get the better of him and puts him in awkward positions in matches. He can be guilty of 'losing his head' at times and that is not something he can afford to do against someone who is capable of serving as John Isner is.

The spread looks tempting enough as it needs just one break of serve from Isner to actually put him in a good position to cover as long as he wins in straight sets. I expect he will and a 7-6, 6-4 scoreline would not surprise me.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 4.5 games @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)
John Isner - 2.5 games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-6, - 6.08 Units (10 Units Staked)

Friday, 13 July 2012

MLB July Picks

I didn't make too many picks in the Major League Baseball last month as the Euro 2012 tournament as well as the tennis tournaments at the French Open and Wimbledon took up most of my time.

I have kept tabs on what has been happening and this is usually when the MLB gets a little more exciting as we reach the second half of the season.

As always, I probably won't make picks every day, but only when I feel we have a slight edge over the layers and I am hoping for better fortunes this month.

Any time I make new picks, I will post a link to this page on my Twitter page and let's hope for a solid July.

July 13th
Is it the smartest thing starting July picks on Friday the 13th? I guess we will know in a few hours time!

St Louis Cardinals @ Cincinnati Reds Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14553-St-Louis-Cardinals-at-Cincinnati-Reds.htm)

Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14554-Boston-Red-Sox-at-Tampa-Bay-Rays.htm)

July 14th
New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14556-New-York-Mets-at-Atlanta-Braves.htm)

Detroit Tigers @ Baltimore Orioles Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14557-Detroit-Tigers-at-Baltimore-Orioles.htm)

Washington Nationals @ Miami Marlins Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14558-Washington-Nationals-at-Miami-Marlins.htm)

July 15th
I am not making any picks today after the terrible run of bad breaks yesterday which saw two of the teams I picked actually out-hitting their opponents but falling to late defeats.

The Mets gave up three runs at the bottom of the eighth to lose by one run, Washington had more hits but also lost by one run, while Detroit had the same number of hits as Baltimore but lost in extra innings.

I'll take a break for today after that run of results(!)

July 16th
Toronto Blue Jays @ New York Yankees Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14560-Toronto-Blue-Jays-at-New-York-Yankees.htm)

Seattle Mariners @ Kansas City Royals Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14561-Seattle-Mariners-at-Kansas-City-Royals.htm)

July 17th
Toronto Blue Jays @ New York Yankees Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14562-Toronto-Blue-Jays-at-New-York-Yankees.htm)

July 18th
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Colorado Rockies Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14564-Pittsburgh-Pirates-at-Colorado-Rockies.htm)

July 19th
Miami Marlins @ Chicago Cubs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14568-Miami-Marlins-at-Chicago-Cubs.htm)

Chicago White Sox @ Boston Red Sox Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14569-Chicago-White-Sox-at-Boston-Red-Sox.htm)

July 20th
Chicago White Sox @ Detroit Tigers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14572-Chicago-White-Sox-at-Detroit-Tigers.htm)

July 23rd
Washington Nationals @ New York Mets Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14577-Washington-Nationals-at-New-York-Mets.htm)

Colorado Rockies @ Arizona Diamondbacks Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14578-Colorado-Rockies-at-Arizona-D-Backs.htm)

July 24th
Detroit Tigers @ Cleveland Indians Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14580-Detroit-Tigers-at-Cleveland-Indians.htm)

Minnesota Twins @ Chicago White Sox Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14581-Minnesota-Twins-at-Chicago-White-Sox.htm)

San Diego Padres @ San Francisco Giants Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14582-San-Diego-Padres-at-San-Francisco-Giants.htm)

July 25th
Washington Nationals @ New York Mets Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14583-Washington-Nationals-at-New-York-Mets.htm)

San Diego Padres @ San Francisco Giants Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14584-San-Diego-Padres-at-San-Francisco-Giants.htm)

July 26th
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Houston Astros Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14589-Pittsburgh-Pirates-at-Houston-Astros.htm)

July 27th
Oakland Athletics @ Baltimore Orioles Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14593-Oakland-Athletics-at-Baltimore-Orioles.htm)

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Houston Astros Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14594-Pittsburgh-Pirates-at-Houston-Astros.htm)

July 28th
Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees Preview (http://goonersguide.com/baseball-pick-14595-Boston-Red-Sox-at-New-York-Yankees.htm)

MY PICKS: 13/07 St Louis Cardinals @ 2.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
13/07 Boston Red Sox @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
14/07 New York Mets @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
14/07 Detroit Tigers - 1.5 Runs @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
14/07 Washington Nationals @ 1.95 Bet 365 (1 Unit)
16/07 New York Yankees - 1.5 Runs @ 2.20 Sky Bet (2 Units)
16/07 Seattle Mariners @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
17/07 New York Yankees - 1.5 Runs @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
18/07 Pittsburgh Pirates @ 1.80 Bet 365 (2 Units)
19/07 Miami Marlins @ 1.86 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
19/07 Chicago White Sox @ 2.26 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/07 Detroit Tigers - 1.5 Runs @ 2.20 Sky Bet (2 Units)
23/07 Washington Nationals - 1.5 Runs @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/07 Arizona Diamondbacks - 1.5 Runs @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/07 Detroit Tigers @ 1.83 Coral (1 Unit)
24/07 Chicago White Sox - 1.5 Runs @ 2.10 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
24/07 San Francisco Giants - 1.5 Runs @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/07 Washington Nationals - 1.5 Runs @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/07 San Francisco Giants - 1.5 Runs @ 2.25 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/07 Pittsburgh Pirates - 1.5 Runs @ 2.05 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
27/07 Oakland Athletics @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/07 Pittsburgh Pirates - 1.5 Runs @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/07 New York Yankees - 1.5 Runs @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)

July Update: 12-11, + 3.54 Units

Tennis Picks July 13th

It was a miserable start to the week yesterday as all four picks made failed to make the grade. There were some bad luck attached to some of the failures, but that's the way it goes sometimes and you have to take the rough with the smooth.

While those picks failed to get anything going, at least Juan Monaco and Marin Cilic made it through to the Quarter Finals in their respective tournaments.

With many of the tournaments still waiting to ensure all their Quarter Finalists are settled, it does mean the choices for the day's play have not been given to us just yet so I will be making the picks, if any, in the morning.

Irina-Camelia Begu - 4.5 games v Estrella Cabeza-Candela: This is a big match for two girls that will feel they can have a real breakthrough week on the Main Tour with a Semi Final place up for the winner.

Estrella Cabeza-Candela had to qualify for the tournament in Palermo, but she has done very well to get to this stage, although the match up against Irina-Camelia Begu is not the best for her. Begu is beginning to make a real move up the Rankings, although she has struggled for consistency over the last couple of months.

The clay courts remain Begu's biggest opportunity for success as she hopes to replicate the form she showed after Wimbledon last year. At that time, Begu was a Runner Up and a Quarter Finalist at her next two tournaments on the clay, and that is what she will look to replicate here.

Cabeza-Candela has performed well whenever she has reached the Main Tour this season, but the majority of her work remains on the Challenger Tour. However, she has a couple of Quarter Final appearances to her name on the Main Tour over the last 12 months, although always finding someone too strong at that stage.

These two met twice last year with Begu winning both matches on clay courts. In each of those matches, Begu won one set with a bagel and she also won all the sets they have competed against one another. I will look for her to continue that form here and book a Semi Final place with a bit of ease.

Alexandr Dolgopolov - 3.5 games v Carlos Berlocq: Alexandr Dolgopolov was the beneficiary of a bad line call in his win over Fabio Fognini which allowed him to move through to this match with a bit of ease, despite a couple of wobbles down the stretch. The Ukrainian has been struggling for form over the last couple of months, but he does have good memories of this tournament as the defending Champion and clearly is at ease in his surroundings.

Dolgopolov meets Carlos Berlocq in this Quarter Final who has lost 6 of his last 7 matches before winning in the first two Rounds here. The Argentine is far behind the form that took him to Finals and Quarter Final appearances earlier in the season and this is the furthest he has got in a tournament since reaching the same stage in Houston back in April.

While Dolgopolov is a little more erratic in his play, I think he is going to be a little too strong for Berlocq who is not playing at a great level and has taken advantage of a kind draw so far.

They have also met three times since the beginning of last season and it is Dolgopolov who leads 2-1, including a straight sets win on a clay court.

This might be close, but a 6-4, 6-4 win for Dolgopolov could be the outcome in my opinion.

Dominika Cibulkova - 3.5 games v Sorana Cirstea: Dominika Cibulkova is one of the toughest players to read on the Tour, although she does strike me as one who plays behind her confidence- for example, if she has a close record against someone, or she has played tough matches against someone, I think Cibulkova will play them tough every time.

This is the case today as she plays against Sorana Cirstea, a player she has comfortably beaten in both their previous matches, including for the loss of just two games earlier this season in Barcelona.

Cirstea started the season with a great win over Sam Stosur in the Australian Open, but she has failed to reach those heights consistently and I think that will be her problem against a player like Cibulkova that can cover the court effectively.

I think Cibulkova will likely get a break more in each set than Cirstea and that should see her through to the cover here.

MY PICKS: Irina-Camelia Begu - 4.5 games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Alexandr Dolgopolov - 3.5 games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 3.5 games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 0-4, - 4 Units (4 Units Staked)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Tennis Picks July 12th

I have held off making any picks at the start of the week as I wasn't sure of some of the players motivation and the fact that a few of the bigger names that have appeared may just have been focusing on the Olympics.

There have been some really surprising results already, while the number of players that have lost from winning positions have been higher than usual. I know there are a lot of people out there that can be sceptical when things like that happen, but tennis is such a momentum sport that a player can lose a number of points in a row, particularly those who just aren't as good as the top players and therefore don't have the consistency to regain momentum that is lost.

The tournaments at Newport and Stanford release their order of plays much later than the European tournaments so I will have a look at those during the day and see if there are any picks I want to make from those events.

The outright picks I have made has seen one player progress through to the Quarter Finals in Marin Cilic, one player yet to start his tournament in Juan Monaco, and one exiting in the form of Sam Querrey.

Fabio Fognini v Alexandr Dolgopolov: I am taking the underdog Italian to win this match, despite not being his biggest fan as he can mentally check out of matches when they are not going his way. However, Fabio Fognini has shown more commitment to the cause this season, even if results remain hit and miss.

Alexandr Dolgopolov has not been in a good run of form recently and you have to expect confidence will at least be a little low after losing 5 of his last 6 matches going back to Madrid.

The Ukrainian is actually the defending Champion here, but it does look like he is an uneasy favourite considering where his confidence is likely to be and that is why I think Fognini as the underdog has to be the call here.

They are 1-1 in the head to head against one another, but it was Fognini that won their only meeting on a clay court and he looks a live dog in this one.

Alessandro Giannessi v Daniel Gimeno-Traver: I am taking another Italian who is the dog in this match as I back Alessandro Giannessi to surprise Daniel Gimeno-Traver in Sweden.

Gimeno-Traver was almost handed the match by Mikhail Kukushkin in the last Round and I think the Spaniard is very fortunate to still be in the tournament. That was only the second win on the main tour on the clay courts for Gimeno-Traver from 8 matches played this season.

Giannessi has been playing the majority of his matches on the Challenger tour, but he has already won four matches here as he qualified for the event so the conditions should hold no fear for him. The young Italian has also won both matches against Gimeno-Traver in the past and he looks worth chancing to add to that here.

Lleyton Hewitt to win 2-1 v Dudi Sela: It is clear that Lleyton Hewitt is not the same player that previously won Grand Slam titles, but the desire is still there for him to improve his Ranking and get back into a position where he can qualify for some of the biggest events on the calender without needing a Wild Card as he has here.

Hewitt has remained on the grass in preparation for Wimbledon and his two wins in Newport are the first he has had on the Main Tour since the Australian Open back in January (granted that is mainly down to injuries, but he had lost all three matches he has played since returning at the French Open).

The match up against Dudi Sela does present Hewitt a real chance to get through to the Semi Final here as he has won all three matches against the Israeli. Sela is a similar kind of player that will look to grind out a win, just as Hewitt does, and he is playing well enough here to think he can at least win a set.

That is something Sela has done the last two times he has played Hewitt and I would not be surprised if this is another one that will go the distance. I just think the Australian will do enough to gut out a win and so taking this for a small interest looks the call.

Marina Erakovic v Urszula Radwanska: I am not entirely sure why Marina Erakovic is the underdog in this match, even if Urszula Radwanska has been playing some better tennis recently.

Erakovic actually beat Radwanska a couple of weeks ago in the First Round at Wimbledon in straight sets and she has had success here at Stanford in the past after reaching the Quarter Final last season, including beating Victoria Azarenka as a big underdog.

Radwanska has struggled to get into the limelight that is occupied by her big sister Agnieszka and she hasn't had a winning record on the Main Tour over the last five seasons. The Pole has struggled on the hard courts this season, although she did come through a tough examination in the First Round.

I just feel Erakovic does have the capabilities to be more consistent and hit through Radwanska in this match up and I am, as I said, a little surprised that the New Zealand player is the underdog. I'll have a small play on her getting through to another Quarter Final here.

MY PICKS: Fabio Fognini @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Alessandro Giannessi @ 2.25 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Lleyton Hewitt win 2-1 @ 4.00 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Marina Erakovic @ 2.10 Bet Fred (1 Unit)