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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (June 13th)

The rain did affect the tournaments being played this week during the Quarter Finals, but the majority of the tournaments managed to avoid any disruption to the schedule, although one Quarter Final had to be held over in Nottingham.

So Saturday is all about the Semi Finals as we get down to the business end of the events in Hertogenbosch, Nottingham and Stuttgart as the first grass court tournaments in 2015 get ready to enter the books. Saturday will also be an interesting day for the draws coming out in Halle and Queens as well as Premier Event in Birmingham and it should be fun to see how those pan out, especially as a number of the players involved would love to put down a marker for Wimbledon.

The next tournaments are the ones where the big names will come out to prepare for Wimbledon as none will really risk playing the week before the next Grand Slam. Queens/Halle have always been big tournaments for the big names to make an impact, but the increased Ranking points and the extra preparation time might just have increased their importance and the draws should be very competitive throughout next week.

Nicolas Mahut - 2.5 games v Robin Haase: This is the best Robin Haase has done in this grass court tournament held in his home nation and the confidence has to be surging after he recovered from a set down to beat Ivo Karlovic in three tight sets. The big question for Haase might be how much he has left in the tank as he plays a really good grass court player in Nicolas Mahut, one who has come through the draw with relative ease.

Due to a drop in his World Ranking, Mahut had to come through the qualifiers this week and he has lost just one set in six matches to move into the Semi Final. Any concerns about his fatigue can be put to the back of the mind when considering that Mahut won this tournament in 2013 having come through the qualifiers that season too.

Of course he is two years older and fitness could be an issue, but Mahut has come through the last couple of matches very quickly so I am not anticipating a problem for him. His serve-volley style is perfectly suited to the grass courts, although Haase might be more ready to accept what he is going to see having dealt with Karlovic's many approaches to the net.

However, Haase fans have to be a little concerned with the amount of break points Karlovic created and Mahut is a more effective returner and has been breaking serve regularly this week. That is highlighted by none of the sets Mahut has played needing a tie-breaker and the Frenchman has dropped just 17 games in three matches.

Haase is a solid enough player when he is producing the level he has this week, but Mahut is playing the better tennis and is more comfortable on the grass courts. I think he is able to break through and win this one 64, 64 to move into another Final in Hertogenbosch.

Rafael Nadal - 2.5 games v Gael Monfils: When you take a look at the results, there might be a feeling that Rafael Nadal has been struggling as he has needed three sets to win both of his matches this week in Stuttgart. However, players like Marcos Baghdatis and Bernard Tomic are very comfortable on the grass courts and I think Nadal will be feeling very happy about his performances as he tries to win his first title on this surface since winning Wimbledon in 2010.

The confidence has to be in a better place with the way he has come through the last two matches despite dropping the second set and that kind of mental recovery is very important for Nadal. It will be another big test for him against Gael Monfils who is a good all-court player, but grass is still his weakest surface.

Monfils has never reached the Final of a grass court event and has missed this portion of the season quite often in recent years through injury. He had to have treatment in his Quarter Final win too and I think Nadal can get the better of him and reach the Final.

Of course the Monfils serve can be huge at times and he has the athleticism to trouble Nadal, especially when his shot-making is on point. That will cause some problems for Nadal, but I think the Spaniard is playing well enough this week to weather the storm and come through 76, 64.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 5.5 games v Monica Niculescu: The season might not have been the best to this point, but Agnieszka Radwanska could be using this as a turning point as she has breezed past the competition so far in Nottingham on her way to the Semi Final. Lauren Davis posed some problems, but Radwanska used all of her grass court nous to pull away when it looked to be getting tight in the second set and won comfortably.

She should be too good for Monica Niculescu, although the Romanian can be one of the more awkward players on the Tour. All of the slices and variation Niculescu uses should work effectively on the grass with the low bounce, but she hasn't really produced a lot of wins on the surface.

This week Niculescu has had to come though in each Round with a three set win and using a lot of energy might be a problem when Radwanska is just as capable of moving her around the court and wearing her out. It can take a bit of time to get used to what Niculescu is bringing to the court, but that has to be the only real worry for Radwanska who should be too good for her opponent in most departments.

After a tight first set, I think Radwanska takes control of this Semi Final as the top Seed moves through 75, 62.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Mahut - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 12-8, + 4.91 Units (39 Units Staked, + 12.59% Yield)

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