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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (June 11th)

It is always a little strange the week after a Grand Slam, but usually the move from the French Open towards Wimbledon means that first week following the end of the second Grand Slam of the season is actually filled with two important tournaments.

That was because of the previously short time between the French Open and Wimbledon, but the change is schedule will be one that is welcomed by the players. It means the majority of the big names are waiting until next week to get their grass court seasons under way, but the tournaments this week have already been intriguing and that is before Rafael Nadal takes to the singles court.

The Quarter Final line up will be completed on Thursday as we begin to reach the business end of this weeks events before the move to Queens and Halle, the only two ATP 500 events during this portion of the season.

Andreas Seppi - 2.5 games v Mischa Zverev: A long injury lay-off has seen Mischa Zverev drop down to outside the top 500 in the World Rankings, but he should already make a significant move having reached the Second Round after a successful three wins in the qualifiers. The win over Dominic Thiem in the First Round is an impressive result, but Thiem is still finding his feet on this surface and someone like Andreas Seppi should pose a much bigger test.

I would be concerned by the fact that Seppi has only recently returned to the Tour after missing much of the clay court season. Even his First Round win over Benjamin Becker has to have some question marks as the German was forced to offer a walkover at the French Open and I would like to know if that issue was part of the reason for the one-sided loss.

Seppi didn't have any success on the grass courts in 2014, but he has previously gone deep into tournaments prior to Wimbledon so I don't think he will be bothered about playing on this surface. I also continue to believe the court in Stuttgart is not playing as fast as some of the other grass courts we will see in this part of the season and both players should have their chances.

My feeling is that Seppi is still too consistent for Mischa Zverev who had a poor record on the grass courts in recent years prior to his four wins this week. His lefty serve does work well on these courts which should give Zverev a chance to get close to an upset, but I think Seppi avoids that and can come through in three sets in a 64, 67, 64 win.

Bernard Tomic - 2.5 games v Tommy Haas: It was an impressive return to the Tour for Tommy Haas who has missed the last twelve months through injury, but the German continues to want to be very competitive despite hitting 37 years old. He did beat Bernard Tomic in their sole meeting on the grass in the 2012 season, but the younger man should be too good this time around and I am surprised the layers believe it will be a lot closer than I do.

As good as Haas is on the grass, Tomic is also very comfortable on the surface with his best Grand Slam showing coming at Wimbledon. Tomic might not be in the best of form, but you have to say he has come into the grass court season in the past in a much worse position and still managed to produce the results.

Guessing how Haas is feeling after his first competitive match in over a year is also tough, but you have imagine he will be a little sore and perhaps a little more fatigued than normal as he tries to rebuild his match strength. The grass courts certainly suit the Haas game and he is a threat, but it is asking a lot for him to make a return to the Tour and beat players like Tomic on this surface.

It could potentially go to two tight sets, but I like the Australian to win both and move into the Quarter Final.

Rafael Nadal - 3.5 games v Marcos Baghdatis: Over the years, Rafael Nadal has regularly struggled in his first match on the grass courts, highlighted by his straight sets defeat to Dustin Brown last season. However, the majority of those seasons has seen Nadal move onto the grass literally a couple of days after winning the French Open title and it will be interesting to see if the extra time the Spaniard had unexpectedly works in his favour.

The tournament in Stuttgart is perhaps not the strongest, but Nadal would have hoped for a much more comfortable Second Round match than Marcos Baghdatis who is very comfortable on the grass and has been playing a Challenger on the surface last week.

However, there is also little doubt that Baghdatis' best days are now behind him even if he remains a fan favourite on the court. He suffered a disappointingly early loss in the Manchester Challenger that he was the top Seed at last week and Nadal is capable of extracting errors from his game.

The court speed might also suit Nadal a little more than the grass courts coming up and I also think there were signs at the French Open that he could be getting back to form. Nadal might have slipped in the World Rankings, but he has little to defend over the next three months and could make a big move back up to a more realistic position. He'll have to win matches like this to make that a reality and I think Nadal breaks down the Baghdatis game in a 64, 64 win.

Marin Cilic - 4.5 games v Matthias Bachinger: Matthias Bachinger has played the majority of his career at a level below the main Tour, be he did qualify for the main draw here as a Lucky Loser. Bachinger took full advantage of his break to move into the Second Round, but now faces an improving Marin Cilic who is very good on the grass.

Cilic has been trying to get back to form after opening 2015 with an injury, but there were signs he was doing that at the French Open. The next few months should suit Cilic just fine with Wimbledon and then defending his US Open crown and I don't think the Second Round draw will overawe him.

As well as Bachinger has done this week, he has really had a hard time on the grass courts over the last few years. He was just 3-12 in grass court matches from 2011, when he reached the Final in a Challenger event, to just prior to the qualifiers here and that is an issue for him against a very competent player like Cilic on the surface.

The Croatian will have to respect the Bachinger first serve which can provide him with some cheap points, but I also think Cilic is an aggressive returner that can put pressure on his opponent. As long as he isn't taking too much time adjusting to a change in surface, Cilic should come through 63, 64.

Yanina Wickmayer - 1.5 games v Bojana Jovanovski: I am not always a big fan of backing someone like Yanina Wickmayer who is consistently inconsistent and hard to trust in the big moments. She can produce a stunning set of tennis, but is just as capable of throwing a dud of a set in the same match and that will always give her opponents a chance.

However, she seems to be a fan of the match up with Bojana Jovanovski as she has won all four matches against her in the past including on the grass courts in 2014.

The last three of those matches have been straight sets for Wickmayer who hits just as hard as Jovanovski off the ground, but perhaps has the slightly stronger first serve. If she gets a high percentage of first serves in play, Wickmayer can be hard to stop and that is how she is going to win a match like this, if she is indeed going to win.

Neither player can really point to a lot of form going into this Second Round match but Wickmayer has been the stronger performer on the grass in recent years. Her Ranking might be far lower than Jovanovski's, but Wickmayer can make her favouritism look the right call and I think she wins this one in straight sets.

MY PICKS: Andreas Seppi - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Bernard Tomic - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Yanina Wickmayer - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-4, + 1.62 Units (18 Units Staked, + 9% Yield)

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