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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (June 18th)

Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Gilles Muller: The first of the four Second Round matches to be played on the Centre Court at Queens Club sees the defending Champion Grigor Dimitrov try and move back into the Quarter Final. Dimitrov has openly spoken of his love for this tournament having been offered Wild Cards before he had made a real impact on the Tour and his game does suit the grass courts.

He will have to be better than he was in the First Round against Sam Querrey, but there were signs in that match that Dimitrov was feeling comfortable on the surface. While his form has been up and down to this point, Dimitrov has a lot of points to protect over the next month to avoid a serious drop down the World Rankings.

The match up with Gilles Muller is far from easy with the big lefty serve likely to cause some real issues for Dimitrov. Muller has had some success on the grass in the past and he did reach the Semi Final in Hertogenbosch last week which will give him confidence he can cause an upset if Dimitrov is not bringing his best form to the court.

However, I don't think Muller protects his serve as effectively as he could, especially if he is having to throw in a lot of second serves. The Dimitrov slice return could be very important against a player that likes to serve and volley and that was how Roger Federer broke down Muller at Wimbledon last year so expect the Bulgarian to try and use the slice on the return of the first serve.

You'd have to favour Dimitrov in the extended rallies, although he will likely need a tie-breaker to also win a set as he moves through 76, 64.

Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 games v John Isner: These two players met at Wimbledon last year and it was no surprise that it needed four very tight sets for Feliciano Lopez to eventually get the better of John Isner. The first three sets all went to tie-breakers and the fourth set saw a late break of serve for Lopez to move through and you would think the grass courts would favour him as a better mover on the surface.

Of course the John Isner serve is a huge weapon on any surface and will be very difficult to break if the American continues to bang down a high percentage of first serves.

So even a bare minimum of games being given to John Isner could be huge in a tight match right? Usually I would say yes, but I think Lopez has a couple of weapons that can help him break down the Isner game and help him through in straight sets.

First off Lopez has a huge serve of his own which is very effective on the grass, while he will look to be aggressive and get to the net when he can and force Isner to make the passes.

The other reason is I think Isner's recent aggressive performances of trying to get into the net might not work so well against Lopez. Most attack what is the weaker wing of Lopez and a backhand he rarely hits through, but the Spaniard generates wicked slice which could see Isner having to play the ball much lower than he would like. Isner obviously can take the racquet out of any opponent's hands though if he serves up his 'A' game, but Lopez has the tools to disarm those big weapons and I think he will cover this small number with a break in at least one set and then moving through to the Quarter Final.

Alejandro Falla + 2.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: He might have dropped out of the World's Top 100, but Alejandro Falla is a very competent grass court player and has already won three matches in Halle this week. He is a former Finalist at this event and I think he can give Jerzy Janowicz plenty to think about in this Second Round match.

It has only been two years since Janowicz reached the Wimbledon Semi Final, but his career has failed to really take off from that moment. While he has a big, aggressive game, Janowicz doesn't always make the right choice on the tennis court and that continues to be a big problem for him.

The Pole has a huge serve, but he certainly doesn't protect it well enough with double faults thrown in for fun as well as his sudden decisions to play dropshots which can be picked up by his opponent.

Falla has a decent serve himself and will put pressure on Janowicz with the lefty serve that has given Roger Federer real problems on this surface. The Colombian has enough about his game to win at least a set in this one which will give him a chance to cover even in a losing effort, while Falla will have additional confidence having beaten Janowicz twice before.

Jelena Jankovic + 2.5 games v Angelique Kerber: Jelena Jankovic's best days might be behind her, but she is still a player capable of producing some special tennis when at her best. The consistency that took her to World Number 1 has gone on a week by week basis, but Jankovic is in the midst of some good performances having reached the Semi Final in Hertogenbosch last week and winning two matches here already this week.

Since reaching the Final here in Birmingham in 2012, Jankovic hasn't really done anything of note as a Singles player on the grass courts so the last two weeks will have been welcomed. Jankovic will certainly need to be at her best if she is going to give Angelique Kerber something to think about.

Kerber has the lefty serve and decent groundstrokes and movement that should make her a threat in any tournament she enters, but it has been an inconsistent 2015 for her. The last couple of months have been better and she has won an impressive first match on grass against Tsvetana Pironkova who is very capable on this surface too.

The German is very happy on the grass as shown by her reaching two Finals in Eastbourne, a Quarter Final and Semi Final at Wimbledon and a Quarter Final at the London Olympics since 2012. She does seem to be the better player on grass than Jankovic, but the form of the latter makes her a threat in this Third Round match and this could go the distance.

It does make the games appealing even if I don't fully trust Jankovic to remain mentally focused if the chips are down, but the last couple of weeks has shown she is comfortable back on the grass for the first time in three years. Her familiarity with Birmingham may help too and I feel this is going to close.

Sabine Lisicki - 4.5 games v Magdalena Rybarikova: I made a point of tweeting about the 27 aces that Sabine Lisicki hit in her win over Belinda Bencic yesterday, but I wasn't aware that was setting a new mark for aces in a women's match. The previous record had been 24 and it is all the more impressive that Lisicki managed that number in a straight sets win.

As I said before, Lisicki loves the grass courts and her serve seems to work particularly well on the surface, but she will need to be at her best to beat Magdalena Rybarikova who is also very comfortable on grass. Lisicki will want to improve on the second serve where Bencic dominated on Wednesday, but getting the first serve going will only put pressure on Rybarikova to make sure she can keep up and not feel the scoreboard on her shoulders.

Rybarikova might not have been able to turn her performances on grass into strong Wimbledon runs, but pre-Wimbledon events have been her forte. She has won the title here before as well as a Quarter Final and Semi Final run, and Rybarikova also reached the Semi Final in Hertogenbosch last season.

A convincing win over Garbine Muguruza for the loss of just four games shows what Rybarikova is capable of on grass, but Lisicki is arguably in the top three or four women players on this surface. If she can play the big points as well as she did in the win over Bencic, Lisicki can grind down Rybarikova through her power and move through 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alejandro Falla + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic + 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Sabine Lisicki - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-8, - 0.96 Units (32 Units Staked, - 3% Yield)

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