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Sunday, 25 August 2013

US Open Day 1 Picks 2013 (August 26th)

The final Grand Slam tournament of the season kicks off on Monday and I think both men's and women's events have a sense of intrigue around them and this should be a fascinating two weeks of tennis.

The men's Final has been moved to the Monday this year after all the disruptions we have seen over the last few years, while the situation for the second men's Semi Final winner had begun to show a clear of picture of that player being hindered in the Final that was played on Sunday.

It won't be a long-term solution of having the Final on a Monday as it goes up against the first Monday Night Football of the new NFL season and fans across the nation will be tuning into the biggest sporting event in the United States, so it was no real surprise that the USTA announced that they will be building a roof over Ashe in the coming years.

The choice was a no-brainer for the United States who believe their tournament is the best of the Grand Slams so they couldn't be seen to be behind the other three Major events who all will have roofs on their main courts by 2017 and the Australian Open is already preparing to put a roof on their second main court.

The rain delays in New York over the last few years have shown that this event needed to do something about the lack of a roof, especially with television coverage suffering, and they have made the correct choice.

It has been a tough season for the tennis picks, especially since Wimbledon, and I have been disappointed with the little things that haven't fallen right. However, it has been so far, so good, when it comes to the Grand Slams, although I found the US Open the toughest event to cap last season.

However, a slight change of fortune is hopefully in the offing at the start of this two weeks of tennis. I have made four outright picks for the tournament and they can be seen here.

What follows are my picks from Day 1 at Flushing Meadows which begins on Monday.

Guillaume Rufin - 1.5 sets v Jan-Lennard Struff: This is a First Round match between two players that are only just ranked inside the top 100 and there is a lot for both young players to gain from a win with the monetary return funding another few months on the Tour.

I have seen both Guillaume Rufin and Jan-Lennard Struff play and I believe the faster surfaces will end up suiting the former more than the latter and I would expect the Frenchman to be a little too strong in this one.

Rufin has a decent serve and can get forward to attack the net and may put enough pressure on Struff during the course of the match to see himself through to the next Round. However, you can't always tell how these players can come out onto the court and I expect there will be some critical points late in a couple of sets, with tie-breaks very much in play to separate the two.

I just have the feeling that Struff isn't too convinced of his own chances on the hard courts, although he can't have asked for a much better opportunity to register a win. Rufin certainly has more experience at a higher level on the hard courts and I believe he comes through in three or four sets.

Bradley Klahn - 2.5 games v Kenny de Schepper: American tennis fans are on the look out for the next breakthrough star from their country that will take on the mantle that has been left by Andy Roddick's retirement last year.

Bradley Klahn will be hoping he can take over and give the audience a new hope in the men's game and, despite being outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings, I think this is the kind of First Round draw he would gratefully accept.

He is facing Kenny de Schepper from France and while the big man has an expected big serve, he is fairly limited in other things he can do on the court and I would expect his confidence is a little beaten having lost five straight times on the Tour, although a run to the Fourth Round at Wimbledon cannot be dismissed lightly.

In saying that, de Schepper was the beneficiary of Marin Cilic pulling out of their Second Round match and he is just 3-5 in hard courts matches this year and wasn't ranked high enough to enter the tournament here last year.

I don't want anyone to think I am over-estimating Klahn, but he has won a Challenger on the hard courts during this summer, is playing in front of a crowd that will give him a lot of support, and reached the Second Round here last year so confidence will be on the side of the American in this one and I will back him to come through in four tough sets, but enough to cover the spread.

Nikolay Davydenko win 3-1 v Rhyne Williams: Another young American hope that is playing on the first day of the US Open Grand Slam is Rhyne Williams and he looks a player with some potential, although the consistency is still not anywhere near where it needs to be to win a match of this magnitude.

Williams has a decent serve and a heavy forehand, but rallying against someone like Nikolay Davydenko is going to expose some of the shortcomings, especially with the way the Russian has been playing this summer.

Davydenko isn't the player of a few years ago when he was very much in the mix in the top 5 of the World Rankings, but he has proven that he is a capable player this summer and I expect his experience will be too much. However, he isn't as consistent as he used to be and he can lose concentration in matches, while his serve isn't completely dominant, and that should allow his opponent to steal a set, although I still think Davydenko proves too strong.

Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Ivan Dodig: I am still a little high on what Fernando Verdasco brings to a tennis court and I know there will be a lot of people out there who no longer believe the Spaniard is capable of reaching the latter stages of big events as a singles player.

In all honesty, those people would mainly be right as Fernando Verdasco is back to the erratic ways that blighted his early career before he had his eureka moment at the 2009 Australian Open which led to a couple of decent years on the Tour.

I still believe Verdasco has the game that can perform strongly on the hard courts and his love for the best of five set matches should also inspire a decent tournament out of him, although Ivan Dodig is certainly no pushover as a First Round opponent. The Croatian has a strong serve, powerful groundstrokes and loves getting to the net to put away volleys, but he can go through long periods of making too many unforced errors.

I expect plenty of errors from both men in this one, but I do think Verdasco can come through with a 64, 46, 63, 76 win and will back him at the price on offer for this spread.

Robin Haase win 3-1 v Frank Dancevic: Robin Haase took on a new coach at the beginning of the season and there have been signs that he is taking on board what is being told to him and achieving some real success now. He has made some deep runs at the clay courts that were played over the summer and won a couple of matches in Winston Salem last week in preparation for this tournament so Haase should be in a good place mentally.

The Dutchman hasn't had a lot of success on the hard courts over the last couple of seasons, and he was beaten in the First Round at both the Australian Open in January and here last year.

This isn't an easy match against Frank Dancevic who qualified for the event and has also had a couple of strong runs at recent Challenger tournaments on the surface. The Canadian has a big enough serve to at least keep this match competitive and there is every chance he is going to be good enough to take a set against Haase who can throw in a poor service game from time to time.

I think Haase is likely to come through, but it may just take four sets to get the job done.

Carlos Berlocq v Santiago Giraldo: I won't say a lot about this match as I back the underdog to come through in what the layers believe will be a tight match. Carlos Berlocq has spent his summer playing on the clay courts where he picked up a title and he isn't as effective on the hard courts where the speed of the surface allows opponents to hit through him.

However, Santiago Giraldo can be terribly erratic and has lot the last three matches played against Berlocq, including two of those matches taking place on the hard courts.

Giraldo hasn't had a strong summer during this North American swing, and his erratic play can be exposed by someone like Berlocq who has the habit of getting under the skin of his opponent. That irritating habit may get Giraldo forcing the issue a little too much so a small interest on Berlocq is the call here.

Marinko Matosevic v Tommy Robredo: I was surprised to see Tommy Robredo as such a strong favourite to beat Marinko Matosevic in this First Round match and I do think this has the hallmarks of an upset.

'Mad Dog Matosevic' hasn't played since the Montreal Masters when he picked up some more form following a good run in Washington and his game is comfortable on the faster surfaces. Tommy Robredo has had three wins on the hard courts over the last two weeks, but he has struggled on this surface for much of the last twelve months.

The Australian also beat Robredo earlier this year at Indian Wells and I can see his bigger serve and heavier groundstrokes helping him to earn the upset and he certainly should not be as big a price as I have seen for him in this one. Robredo will be better known by the casual fan, but I think Matosevic deserves a small interest in this one and that is what I will be doing.

Roger Federer - 8.5 games v Grega Zemjla: It has been a tough 2013 for Roger Federer and while I would be extremely surprised if he wins the tournament in New York, I do think he is capable of coming through this First Round match without too many problems.

Federer likes serving first and has gone back to his old tennis racquet, while Grega Zemlja is one of these players that has a decent serve, but can become very erratic around it and I would not be surprised at all if Federer records at least one 61 scoreline.

That will immediately put him in a strong position to cover this spread, although he is not the kind of player that can be backed with the same confidence of a couple of years ago as he is not defending his own service games with full authority.

I am not concerned too much about that in this match as I think Zemlja doesn't have the belief that he is capable of winning a match like this and he was dominated by Federer when they met earlier this year in Rotterdam.

It is a big spread, but a 61, 64, 64 win would see Federer cover the number and I like him to do so in this First Round match to be played in the evening session.

MY PICKS: Guillaume Rufin - 1.5 Sets @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Bradley Klahn - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nikolay Davydenko win 3-1 @ 3.75 Stan James (1 Unit)
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Robin Haase win 3-1 @ 3.80 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Carlos Berlocq @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Marinko Matosevic @ 2.75 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Roger Federer - 8.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

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