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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (June 14th)

Once in a while, in a long season on the Tour and making picks on a weekly basis, I seem to enter the twilight zone and that is what it has felt like this week ever since Heather Watson blew a big lead in a losing effort on Tuesday. The last three days have been crazy with picks coming so close, but finishing so far from the winner's enclosure, and this is a damage limitation week on what has been a decent season to this point.

With that in mind, both Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer are both still running in their respective tournaments this week as we reach the Semi Finals. Both have tough Semi Finals, but would be considered the favourites to win the title if they can come through these matches, although that is far from straight-forward with Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori standing in the way.

Wawrinka has played very solid tennis all week and Dimitrov has never beaten him, while Nishikori has beaten Federer the last two times they have met.

If, and it is a big if, Dimitrov can come through his Semi Final, the week might not be as tragic as it is looking, but the real way I can turn this around is if both players win the tournaments at Queens and Halle.

Radek Stepanek v Feliciano Lopez: Over the years, Radek Stepanek and Feliciano Lopez have both enjoyed plenty of success on the grass courts, but it is something of a surprise that they have never met on the surface despite that success.

However, it is not the first time that these players will have played one another and Stepanek has dominated the head to head with a 9-2 record, although the last four matches have been split between them. It has been around eighteen months since they last met when Stepanek recorded a surprising straight sets win over Lopez at the Australian Open.

I was critical of Tomas Berdych on Twitter that he wasn't making any adjustments to Lopez' game in the Quarter Final and I think that is where Stepanek will show off his on court clear thinking. The Czech player will slice and dice, while attacking the net to try and keep Lopez off guard, but he has to also hope the Spaniard's serving comes down a level from where it has been the last three days.

Lopez has had some long matches, but any fatigue is cancelled out by Stepanek participating in the Doubles here too and I think it will come to a couple of big points here and there.

On the face of it, Lopez is the right favourite, but I think Stepanek can addle the Spaniard's mind and that will give him a real chance of making the Final here.

Ana Ivanovic - 5.5 games v Shuai Zhang: There are a lot of positives to say about Shuai Zhang off the ground with some of the accuracy and power she displayed in her win over Sloane Stephens in the Quarter Final, but she was also helped considerably by a poor performance from the American.

While Stephens is someone that I won't be backing again any time soon, especially outside of the Slams, Ana Ivanovic is unlikely to check out mentally as quickly as the American did. Ivanovic has been dominant all through the week and that has shown with the comfort she has won her first three matches in Birmingham.

The Serb hits the ball very well and she has generally been improving as she looks to find the form that took her to World Number 1 and the French Open title. Ivanovic can struggle with her serve at times and that may give Zhang an 'in' for the match, but Ivanovic is also likely to offer much more resistance on the serve she sees.

With the aggressive play and power that Ivanovic possesses, I expect her to be too strong for Zhang and come through with a 61, 64 win.

Casey Dellacqua - 3.5 games v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova: I don't think too many people would have had these two players as potential Semi Finalists in Birmingham this week, although both have a decent grass court pedigree to perhaps think it is less of a surprise as initially thought.

Both Casey Dellacqua and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova have performed well this week, but the latter has a lot more tennis in her legs having to go three sets in each of her first three matches before a more straight-forward win on Friday.

Dealing with a lefty serve is always an issue for players, while Dellacqua should also have the edge in terms of power, and the Australian is also having a career year to this point and would dearly love to reach the Final.

She'll have to stay mentally tough against Zahlavova Strycova who can frustrate her opponents with solid and consistent groundstrokes, but I do think Dellacqua will be able to find her way to a 64, 64 win if she can control her nerves.

MY PICKS: Radek Stepanek @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 5.5 Games @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Casey Dellacqua - 3.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-17, - 18.44 Units (50 Units Staked, - 36.88% Yield)

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