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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (June 11th)

I went to my first live tennis of the season on Tuesday at Queens Club in London, the seventh year in a row that I have attended the tournament. Unfortunately, sitting in the sun all day, which is rare for England, meant I had a nasty headache developing by the time I got home.

The day itself was a lot of fun as I got to see Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych on centre court, while also watching a lot of decent practice with some of the top names all taking their time on the grass courts. My only disappointment was not getting to see Stan Wawrinka, but the week is long enough to have at least one more opportunity to do that, or at least I hope it does.

What I love most about Queens is the fact that you can pretty much talk to the players as they are leaving the practice courts or the facility and I was fortunate enough to have a few words with Ernests Gulbis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Dominic Thiem, the latter who I believe is definitely a star in the making.

Of course the day is much sweeter when I can see that the week's picks have turned around with an almost perfect Tuesday after the disappointing start to the week. I still think Jeremy Chardy blew his chances against Sam Querrey on Monday, but that was made up by Feliciano Lopez who somehow lost the second set in a tie-breaker despite having a break advantage twice and serving for the match. Fortunately, the Spaniard won the final set comfortably and cover the handicap.

It was followed by wins for Dmitry Tursunov, Johanna Konta and Grigor Dimitrov, although Heather Watson couldn't make it a perfect day despite leading 63, 41 and also having three match points in the second set.

There is plenty more action on Wednesday and hopefully another positive set of results will be coming through too.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 games v Pierre-Hugues Herbert: The young Frenchman picked up a notable scalp in the First Round when he beat Jerzy Janowicz, but Pierre-Hugues Herbert is going to be in for another big test as he takes on the German Number 1.

The grass courts have seen some good tennis from Philipp Kohlschreiber in the past and he can make some serious moves up the Rankings as he doesn't have a lot of points to defend from twelve months ago. He was a comfortable winner over Andreas Seppi, which I thought was an impressive performance and I did expect that to be a more difficult test for Kohlschreiber.

His added experience on the surface should be enough to see off Herbert, even if the latter has plenty of confidence that comes with winning matches. Herbert had to come through two qualifiers before winning the First Round match, but Kohlschreiber is another big test for him and might be a step too far.

If Kohlschreiber comes out with a similar performance to the First Round, I expect a similar 63, 64 win.

Milos Raonic - 4.5 games v Peter Gojowczyk: It is a little strange that Milos Raonic hasn't had more success on the grass courts than he has to this point and I will be expecting a big week from the Canadian after backing him in the outright market for the title in Halle.

The serve gives Raonic a real advantage on the grass, but if I was coaching him, I would ask him to try and get to the net a little more if he is to really go deep in tournaments on the surface. That is because the low bounce on a lot of these courts makes it tough for the big man to rally effectively for long periods from the back of the court.

His groundies can be erratic on any surface, but when you lose confidence in the bounce you are seeing, it can be incredibly tough to win matches consistently and getting to the net and volleying away erases some of those concerns, especially on big points.

This first match on grass should give Raonic a strong chance to get off to a good start against Peter Gojowczyk who doesn't have a lot of grass court pedigree himself and who has been in poor form before coming through his First Round match.

His serve will give him a few cheap points though as Raonic isn't the best returner, but scoreboard pressure could lead to a 63, 64 win for the Canadian who is a former Quarter Finalist in Halle.

Madison Keys - 4.5 games v Timea Babos: Madison Keys has one of the best serves on Tour and the young American is surely going to get better and better, and she has every chance of surpassing her career best 24 wins in a season from 2013. She has 14 wins this season and came through the First Round comfortably and I do expect something similar in this Second Round match against Lucky Loser Timea Babos.

In contrast to Keys, Babos is not having a lot of matches on the main WTA Tour and she doesn't have a lot of success on the grass courts to this point of her career. She is still young though and has a chance to breakthrough, but it will need a turn of form to do that.

She should be under pressure from the Keys serve and I also think the power the American possesses will prove to be too much to handle for Babos. If that part of the Keys game is working effectively, I expect she will have chances to break serve and I believe Keys comes through 64, 62.

Lucie Safarova - 4.5 games v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova: These two have played a couple of close matches in the past, but Barbora Zahlavova Strycova hasn't been in a lot of good form of late and I also believe the grass courts will suit Lucie Safarova more than her opponent.

In saying that, I think Safarova could be a little disappointed with her recent performances on the surface as I would have thought her serve and ability to get forward with aggression would be perfect for the grass.

Like many who have big swings off the ground, the low bounce can produce more erratic performances from someone like Safarova, but her opponent might not be the person that can take advantage of that.

The first match on grass can be difficult, but Safarova should prove effective enough to come through with a 75, 63 win.

Lleyton Hewitt - 2.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: Lleyton Hewitt has won all four matches he has played against Feliciano Lopez and is yet to lose a set to the Spaniard, including a straight sets win at Wimbledon. The Australian might be rumoured to be calling it a day at the end of this season, but he remains very confident of his grass court game and I think he will be a little too good for Lopez in this huge Second Round match.

Hewitt was a comfortable winner in the First Round, while Lopez had a few more struggles against Dejan Lajovic than expected and he can't afford to do that against his opponent today.

Both players are likely to be extremely happy to be back on the grass courts compared to the clay, but I think Hewitt has the game to negate what Lopez will bring to the court. Outside of Ivo Karlovic, Hewitt has performed well against the bigger servers as his return game can bring the equaliser there and he would fancy himself from the back of the court against someone like Lopez.

Unless Lopez serves out of his skin, his backhand will be exploited by Hewitt and I think the latter comes through 76, 64.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Paul-Henri Mathieu: The first match back on grass would be a concern for a lot of players on the Tour, but you have to believe that Andy Murray is looking forward to it. I think it is hard to argue against Murray being the Number 1 player on grass and the man to beat at Wimbledon, even if I do believe someone like Rafael Nadal could hold a mental edge over the Brit.

Murray has also struggled in defence of the Queens title in his previous two appearances as Champion, but I do believe Paul-Henri Mathieu gives him a decent start to the tournament with not a lot to worry the Number 3 Seed.

Yes, Mathieu has a big serve and he is a decent player off the ground, but Murray's return should take away the advantage of the former and hitting through Murray won't see the Frenchman consistent enough as far as I am concerned.

My only real concern is how long it takes Murray to get his eye in on a new surface? If it takes a set, the pick could have a problem, but I can see a late break in that first set before Murray comes through a comfortable 75, 62 winner.

Nicolas Mahut - 2.5 games v Edouard Roger-Vasselin: Edouard Roger-Vasselin has won three of the five matches competed against Nicolas Mahut, but none of those have come on the grass courts where I feel the latter has a distinct advantage.

The serve-volley game may not be as prevalent these days, but Mahut manages it to perfection on the grass and led to two titles last season on the surface even if his Second Round run at Wimbledon was a tad disappointing.

He is also a former Finalist in Queens so clearly likes grass even if he is most famous for losing the longest match in history at Wimbledon against John Isner.

I expect Mahut will keep Roger-Vasselin under pressure even if his compatriot has a decent all round game that does make him competitive on the surface. I saw a bit of his match yesterday and Roger-Vasselin isn't afraid of getting forward himself, but I would give the edge to Mahut in that regards.

The person dictating the points will likely win them as both will look to aggressively get forward and put away balls at the net, but Mahut might have a slightly easier time holding serve and could come through 76, 64.

MY PICKS: Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 4.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 4.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Lleyton Hewitt - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 2.30 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nicolas Mahut - 2.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-3, + 2.12 Units (14 Units Staked, + 15.14% Yield)

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