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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (July 9th)

The weather in Stuttgart has completely put that tournament on its knees and I have no idea where they are going to find the time to play the event in the fashion they would want. The rain is scheduled through the whole week and they are already behind play there so an outdoor clay court event may have to change tact.

I always find the week after the Grand Slams being a little slower and harder to find the picks I would like with the one exception being the French Open which has been followed by the grass court season immediately. Next season that might be the case again with new tournaments placed behind the French Open which may not be attended by the biggest names and the likes of Queens and Halle, both upgraded to ATP 500 events, will be played ten days after the French Open Final.

This week has proven to be no different with the layers taking their time to price up matches and my focus has mainly been on Newport to this point. On Thursday, I will be making a short trip to Barcelona to enjoy a mini-break so I won't be making any picks for the matches scheduled for Friday or Saturday (I may even miss out Thursday as Newport won't be priced up by the time I leave and may not find the picks from the other four tournaments worth backing).


Two out of three picks came in as winners yesterday thanks to Ryan Harrison hammering Lleyton Hewitt in the first set, even if he didn't have enough to win the match in three sets. Jack Sock backed up his Doubles win at Wimbledon with a comfortable First Round win over Alex Kuznetsov, but Tim Smyczek couldn't win the first set tie-break against Austin Krajicek and was then hammered in the second set.


Steve Johnson - 3.5 games v Tatsuma Ito: Steve Johnson is one of a number of American players that played tennis through College before making the move to the Professional ranks and he has admitted that it took a bit of time to get used to that. Playing on the Tour is as much mental as it is about the talent you have and Johnson admitted that he didn't cope with 'living out of a suitcase' when first moving onto the Tour, but is now in a much stronger place.

He has already posted the most wins on the Tour in a single year in his short career with 11 this season, and Johnson has to be looking forward to the next six weeks with the North American hard court swing.

First, Johnson is looking for one more decent run on the grass after dismissing Clay Thompson and the match up with Tatsuma Ito should be one he can take advantage of. Ito has to be given due concern after qualifying for Wimbledon and reaching a Quarter Final in a Challenger event in Nottingham so confidence has to be high in the tennis that he is producing.

However, the serve can be a vulnerable part of Ito's game and anything less than a top performance there will give Johnson an opportunity, although the American has to take care of his own unforced errors. It won't be as straight-forward as a 64, 64 scoreline would suggest, but that is where I see the match ending up with break points taken on both sides.


Nicolas Mahut - 3.5 games v Luke Saville: When you see someone of your own age bracket begin to push on up the Rankings, it has to be an inspiration for a player to try and achieve the same thing. That has to be doubled when the player is from your own country and likely to be someone you have mixed with and known and that is where Luke Saville must stand.

The 20 year old former Wimbledon Junior Champion will have seen the success Nick Kyrgios had at Wimbledon last week and really feel he can push on too. Saville didn't have a bad tournament either after coming through the qualifiers and reaching the Second Round before finding Grigor Dimitrov too tough.

That could be the case again on Wednesday with Saville taking on Nicolas Mahut, although the Frenchman hasn't had the same type of grass court campaign that brought him so much success last season. Mahut does feel comfortable in Newport as the defending Champion, but he has had three very disappointing losses on the grass over the last month.

That makes Mahut vulnerable to another surprise loss on Wednesday, but I think his serve-volley skills will end up keeping the younger man under pressure and that will build to the point of giving Mahut a 76, 63 win.


Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 games v Dudi Sela: My biggest issue in backing someone like Adrian Mannarino is that I don't trust his serve and think that is one of the weakest shots in his armoury which makes it tough to win matches.

However, this match against Dudi Sela will offer Mannarino as many chances to break serve as he gives up and I think his added performances on the grass courts will prove to be the difference for the Frenchman.

Of course there has to be some concern with the amount of tennis Mannarino has played recently after winning a Challenger tournament in Manta last week and having to fly to Newport for this tournament. He did record an impressive win over Jimmy Wang in the First Round so perhaps the confidence is high enough to build adrenaline to fight through these matches.

Sela has been something of a 'gate-keeper' on the Tour as he has always seemed too good for the Challenger circuit, but not quite good enough for the main Tour. He can cause problems for players with the style of tennis he plays and is a decent shot-maker, but I still think Mannarino wins this 64, 76.


Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 games v Sergiy Stakhovsky: Two players that enjoy playing on the grass courts will be meeting in the Second Round, but I have a little more faith in Ivo Karlovic winning the match than I do in Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Both players will rely on the serve to build pressure on the opponent, but Stakhovsky can be a little more erratic with his volleying and that is where Karlovic may find his had the more limited chances to break serve.

Stakhovsky is the better returner, but Karlovic possesses a monster serve that will make it hard to create chances, especially as he gets into the net and likes to put away his volleys.

Tie-breaks are going to play a part, but I think Karlovic is going to have the chance to break the Stakhovsky serve and that should lead to a win for the big-serving Croatian with a 76, 67, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Steve Johnson - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nicolas Mahut - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-1, + 2.10 Units (6 Units Staked, + 35% Yield)

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