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Monday, 22 June 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (June 22nd)

This is the final week of preparation before the third Grand Slam of the 2015 tennis season begins at Wimbledon in seven days time. While the ATP event in Nottingham is missing the majority of those players who will be expected to challenge for the Wimbledon title, the majority of whom are taking part in exhibition events in the London area during the week, the WTA event in Eastbourne is a loaded draw.

Petra Kvitova, the current defending women's Champion at Wimbledon makes her bow on the grass courts this summer and this is a week that the women do tend to take much more seriously than any other time prior to a Grand Slam event. Over the years, the tournament in Eastbourne has enticed some of the big names on the WTA Tour who want to play a grass court event prior to Wimbledon and this year has proved no different.

Of course Eastbourne used to be a mixed event, but the ATP Tour has a new stop in Nottingham instead where it will be interesting to see what kind of grass courts they have created in terms of speed of play.

The favourites for the men's title at Wimbledon made strong cases last week as both Andy Murray and Roger Federer won the big events at Queens and Halle respectively. Of course Novak Djokovic is the defending Champion at Wimbledon and will go in as the favourite, but the draw is going to be key and I really believe Andy Murray has a great chance to win his second Wimbledon title in the next three weeks.

It was without a doubt my worst week making picks on the Tour for some time this season as I went through a really bad run during the middle of the week. Some luck was missing with the way breaks of serve went down, but I can't blame it all on that with some poor picks also playing their part to contribute to an all around negative week.

With Wimbledon fast approaching, picks this week will all depend on whether there is something worth backing as players begin to get ready for the next Grand Slam of the season. At the end of the week the draw for Wimbledon will be made and I will have some outright picks for the tournament put up over the weekend, while picks from Day One at the event will be made by Sunday once the layers have gotten all of their markets ready for Wimbledon.

Sam Groth v Mischa Zverev: Sam Groth is the favourite to win this match, but I have to say I was perhaps expecting him to be a harder favourite than the layers. As well as Mischa Zverev played recently in Stuttgart, Groth won the Manchester Challenger on grass and he also reached the Quarter Final in Stuttgart so is clearly comfortable on the surface.

It isn't much of a surprise that Groth feels good on grass- the Australian has a booming serve that is obviously a huge weapon on most surfaces but one that is particularly effective on grass. Beating someone like Feliciano Lopez on grass is an impressive result and even Groth's loss to Victor Troicki in Stuttgart doesn't look that bad considering how well Troicki has been playing.

As I said, Zverev was playing very well in Stuttgart as he came through the qualifiers to reach the Quarter Final there before losing in three sets to Marin Cilic. The last two sets were both in tie-breakers and it is clear the German player is in good form having also reached the Second Round in Munich on clay after winning three qualifying matches there too.

Neither player has had a lot of success on the grass courts in recent years in main Tour events, but Groth has showed a little more. If he serves well he will be tough for Zverev to deal with, especially if the latter throws in a dodgy service game which is always something he finds hard to avoid.

Tie-breakers are likely to play a big part in this match, but I think Groth could find his way to win those and move into the Second Round.

Tsvetana Pironkova - 2.5 games v Marina Erakovic: Tsvetana Pironkova reached the Semi Final and Quarter Final at Wimbledon in back to back years in 2010 and 2011, but recent years on grass haven't been as successful for her. The grass courts were a time of the season when Pironkova would really find her feet, and there were some positive signs in a close loss to Angelique Kerber last week in Birmingham, a tournament Kerber went on to win.

Last season was particularly disappointing for Pironkova on this surface as she lost the only two matches she played on grass, and a Second Round loss in Birmingham means she is just 1-4 in her last five matches on grass. However, the Bulgarian looks to be on course for her best season on the Tour since 2012 and I think her close loss to Kerber will be seen as a positive to take into the week in Eastbourne.

Pironkova has a former Quarter Final on her record at Eastbourne, but she will know how dangerous Marina Erakovic can be, especially as she has a couple of wins under her belt from the qualifiers. That has seen Erakovic improve to 6-2 on grass this season and she has had some strong performances on this surface in the past, although not last season when Erakovic was 0-3.

She has lost her two previous matches against Pironkova too, but confidence won't be an issue for Erakovic. That confidence comes from her run of decent results over the last couple of weeks heading into this match and I think she will pose Pironkova some problems in the first set.

As long as Pironkova can weather that storm as she works out the conditions in Eastbourne, I can see her coming through 75, 63.

Eugenie Bouchard v Alison Riske: I think you would have had to have had your head in the sand to not know that Eugenie Bouchard is struggling mightily with her confidence at the moment. Sometimes you see signs that she is perhaps getting her act together, but she can quickly lose heart in matches and crumble away which is a real surprise to watch considering her success in big tournaments last year.

Bouchard has lost her way at a time when people are beginning to criticise what is perceived to be a poor attitude from her- whether that is failing to shake hands with opponents prior to Fed Cup duty, or some of her 'quirks' regarding other players or deciding to dine out on her own, but it has seemed to have turned some fans against her.

You can't deny the talent Bouchard has, but a coaching change hasn't seemed to have worked as she looks to turn around what has been a really tough 2015 season. Facing someone like Alison Riske won't be easy considering how confident the American is on the grass courts and she is someone that won't really see too many fluctuations in her play.

With Bouchard being up and down more than a yo-yo in recent weeks, Alison Riske will certainly believe she can snap her run of three consecutive losses to the Canadian. Both players lost to Kristina Mladenovic in their first match in Birmingham last week, but Riske was a Semi Finalist in Nottingham and has a very good looking win over Alize Cornet here in Eastbourne already.

Confidence won't be an issue for Riske, but I am still surprised she is favoured to win this match- forget the Rankings, Bouchard has looked like she was just about to turn her form the last couple of weeks and I don't think she is that far away. She will have some positive memories of beating Riske comfortably last season on the hard courts and that might be the small mental strength to help her overcome here.

It is a risk going against Riske in the form Bouchard has displayed... But I don't think she should be a 2.20 shot in this Second Round match and I will look for her to break her losing streak with a battling three set win.

MY PICKS: Sam Groth @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tsvetana Pironkova - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Eugenie Bouchard @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Picks Final12-17, - 11.26 Units (57 Units Staked, - 19.75% Yield)

Season 2015+ 40.02 Units (957 Units Staked, + 4.18% Yield)

Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)

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