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World Cup Final 2018 Pick- France vs Croatia (July 15th)

I can't believe a month at the World Cup is about o come to a close on Sunday and I have to say the tournament has been about as good as...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (June 17th)

The build up to Wimbledon continues with qualifying taking place in Roehampton, but I was stupid enough to not realise that Tamira Paszek was going to be taking part and thus 'didn't care' about her final match at Eastbourne... Suffice to say that Paszek was beaten in two sets and it does raise the question as to why a tournament would allow someone to take part in their qualifiers if they have no intention to take part in the main draw at an event.

I understand that there is a need to pick up any kind of Ranking points, but it surely isn't a good thing for the paying public to know a player isn't going to really try and make a match and put in the necessary desire.

That was simply a poor bit of research by me, but I couldn't have picked Ivo Karlovic to serve as poorly as he did despite shortening in price right up until the point the match started. Agnieszka Radwanska has let me down for the last time for a while as a former 'machine' against players ranked lower than her has begun to make matches far more competitive than ever.

Just to really put the exclamation point on a poor day, Angelique Kerber had the 'Berdych's' as she created numerous break point chances against Alison Riske, but was broken serving for the handicap cover only to break and win the match in the very next game.

Edouard Roger-Vasselin - 2.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: Any time I notice someone coming through the qualifiers, I have to have some respect for the player simply because they must have some confidence after winning three matches in a row. Andrey Kuznetsov did the same in Halle last week, although he found Dustin Brown too good in the First Round before heading over to England for this tournament.

It's another tough opener for Kuznetsov as he has been drawn with Edouard Roger-Vasselin who had a respectable week at Queens and has the solid game that will work very well on grass. The Frenchman has a decent serve and consistent groundstrokes while also capable of attacking the net which makes him a tough prospect to face on the grass courts.

Roger-Vasselin also has had a few days to recover from the exertions that took him to the Doubles title at the French Open as well as the two wins he had at Queens, and he should prove a little too good for Kuznetsov.

He should have enough to also challenge the Russian serve to the extent of recording a 75, 64 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Paul-Henri Mathieu: Fernando Verdasco had a wonderful run to the Quarter Final at Wimbledon last year and even had a two set lead over Andy Murray in that match before running out of steam in a five set defeat.

It would have reminded the Spaniard that he still has something to offer on the Singles Tour and that grass is a surface that he can perform on- Verdasco has the big lefty serve and heavy groundstrokes that should zip through the grass, while his success on the Doubles Tour suggests volleying shouldn't be a concern either to end points that much quicker.

Verdasco does get Paul-Henri Mathieu up first who had a couple of matches on the grass last week in London, but that is also a player that the Spaniard has dominated through their matches.

You can see Mathieu frustrating Verdasco at times with his serve and ability to play big points, but I think Verdasco will have a little too much for the Frenchman and come through with a 76, 63 win.

Lukas Rosol v Jan-Lennard Struff: This has been set as a pick 'em match and I was surprised that Lukas Rosol is considered the underdog and can only put that down to a lack of grass court tennis for him this season.

Don't think I am just considering Rosol as the winner because of one match against Rafael Nadal two years ago, but I think he has a decent serve which should give him a chance to win this one. Rosol should also be a little more confident in his tennis having won a Challenger on the clay courts a couple of weeks ago, while Jan-Lennard Struff is a solid player but not had the grass court success in the past to think he can win a match like this.

Struff did reach the Second Round at Wimbledon last year after qualifying, but his defeat last week in Halle to Joao Sousa was a real disappointment, even if he does have the game that should translate onto the grass courts.

It might take a couple of tie-breakers to get the job done, but I don't agree with Rosol being the underdog and will back him to win.

Petra Kvitova - 3.5 games v Lucie Safarova: The former Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova should be able to make a good start to her grass court season against Lucie Safarova on Tuesday, especially as she has beaten her compatriot in all four previous matches on Tour. Kvitova has only lost one set in those matches too and I think she is more comfortable on the grass courts of the two players and that should give the higher Ranked Czech player the chance to move into the Second Round.

My biggest concern in backing Kvitova has been the amount of erratic tennis she plays within the same match- at some points she looks like the Wimbledon Champion she became a few years ago, but then suddenly she can't find any consistency off the ground.

That has led to a lot of three set matches for Kvitova which is preventing her from winning titles consistently, but I do think she will have the advantage in this match because of the surface.

Lucie Safarova has a strong serve, but I don't think she feels as comfortable moving on grass and she might just fall away if she loses a tight first set and I like Kvitova to win 76, 63.

Tsvetana Pironkova v Heather Watson: Another pick 'em match where I think the underdog has been under-rated is between the current British Number 1 Heather Watson and Tsvetana Pironkova.

Watson will receive plenty of support, but Pironkova is a player that clearly loves the grass courts with her most consistent success on the Tour coming on this surface. She seems to relish playing on the green stuff and I think it will be tough for Watson to repeat her 2010 win over the Bulgarian at Eastbourne from 2010.

This is the first match that Pironkova is playing on grass this season so there is a chance that she could be caught cold by Watson who has been getting ready for Wimbledon for a couple of weeks at least. However, Pironkova has reached the Quarter Finals in her last two warm up events the week before Wimbledon and I think her grass court pedigree makes her a very appealing back in this First Round match.

MY PICKS: Edouard Roger-Vasselin - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Lukas Rosol @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Tsevtana Pironkova @ 2.20 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 0-4, - 8 Units (8 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

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