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Monday, 8 June 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (June 8th)

The European clay court season which culminates in the second Grand Slam of the season at the French Open is in the rearview mirror for both the players and the fans, but the tennis Tour simply doesn't take a moment to recharge.

While the emotion of a very good Men's Final at Roland Garros is still being felt, the grass court season begins on Monday, but not in the way we have come to know over the years.

There is now an additional week placed between the French Open and Wimbledon, something that has made a lot of sense for a long time, and that means the 'big' grass court events at Queens and Halle don't immediately follow the French Open. Instead we get a couple of new tournaments in Stuttgart (men) and Nottingham (women) this week to join 's-Hertogenbosch (mixed), but that doesn't mean that all the big names are going to wait until next week before they begin their preparation for Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal might have been expected to have been playing at Roland Garros on Sunday, but he had scheduled himself in Stuttgart and has turned up in Germany ready to compete. I am not sure he would have been impressed with the draw that could potentially see Nadal take on old rival Lukas Rosol in the Second Round, but it is clear the Spaniard feels he can do more on the grass courts than he has in recent years.

The French Open ended on Sunday, but I will update the season totals in time for the Tuesday post of the tennis picks as well as any thoughts I had from that tournament.

Jarkko Nieminen - 2.5 games v Marius Copil: This is a match up between a veteran in Jarkko Nieminen and a Wild Card Marius Copil as the grass court season gets underway and I can see Nieminen using all of his experience to find his way through.

There is no doubt that Copil's strength is his serve which he can follow up with some big groundstrokes and that will always make him a danger on the faster surfaces. However well his game should transfer onto grass courts, Copil still has to find a way to mentally be ready to play on a surface which can feel uncomfortable for some players.

It is more slippery than the hard courts and not feeling secure underfoot can have a mental impact on any match. That is a potential hindrance for Copil and Nieminen has the know how to take advantage.

My concern would be the Nieminen serve which has always been something of a liability, especially the second serve, even though he is a lefty and that should have helped him. With that shot and Copil's ability to rattle through service games, Nieminen could be in danger of the upset if he is having too deliver too many second serves.

Copil's return is not his best aspect though so Nieminen might have caught a break with his first match on grass this season and I expect the veteran to come through 76, 64.

Marinko Matosevic + 2.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: Neither one of these players have a winning record on the Singles Tour this season and Marinko Matosevic has lost nine matches in a row so how can I possibly pick him with this few games in this First Round match?

For starters Vasek Pospisil has lost four straight matches himself, although neither would have enjoyed the clay court season, and the other reason is that Matosevic has had the stronger grass court pedigree in the past.

You can't go with past results as an indication of what will happen in the future, but Matosevic has lost some close matches on his worst surface and his game does transfer well onto the grass. The Australian hasn't been serving as effectively as he would have liked in 2015, but he has a strong first serve and loves to get to the net for volleys.

Pospisil is another player comfortable at the net with a strong serve and he has been holding many more games than Matosevic, although his return stats have been poor to say the least. There were some really good results for Pospisil last year on the grass, but neither player has played with enough confidence to think either wins easily.

While Pospisil is the favourite, I think Matosevic has every chance to snap his run of losses and this has the hallmarks of a close match that could be decided by a point or two either way. Mentally the question will be whether Matosevic can do that on his run of losses to actually complete the win, but a 76, 67, 64 kind of result either way looks likely.

Lauren Davis v Ajla Tomljanovic: This is a First Round match that the layers have barely been able to split as Lauren Davis takes on the Number 8 Seed Ajla Tomljanovic. These players are not that far away from one another in the World Rankings and neither was in spectacular form during the clay court season.

However both of them will be happier being on the grass compared with the clay as they look to turn around the 2015 season where both Davis and Tomljanovic have losing records.

Tomljanovic has the bigger game and has the power to hit through Davis, but I do like the spirit the latter shows and her movement can bridge the gap. The Davis serve will always be a weakness for her, but she showed plenty of promise on the grass courts last season and can upset Tomljanovic if she can find her return game and force the pressure on her opponent to match that ability.

There could be a few breaks of serve here unless Tomljanovic's power proves the difference, but that has led to inconsistency in her game which is what Davis will look to exploit. It might go three sets, but Davis in the upset looks the call.

MY PICKS: Jarkko Nieminen - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marinko Matosevic + 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Lauren Davis @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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