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Monday, 29 June 2015

Wimbledon Day 1 Picks 2015 (June 29th)

The third Grand Slam of the season has arrived as the gates at SW19 are opened on Monday and the tournament could be bathed in the warmest of weather for the entire week, a surprise at most years at Wimbledon.

The weather forecast calls for very, very high temperatures which should mean six days of tennis for the fans before the break in Middle Sunday next week.

I have made some picks from the outright markets at Wimbledon which can be read here.

Day One of any Grand Slam is absolutely loaded on the schedule and it looks a great day for the fans that will be attending Wimbledon, as Novak Djokovic opens up on Centre Court as the defending Champion.

Marcel Granollers - 2.5 games v Janko Tipsarevic: Janko Tipsarevic returns to Wimbledon for the first time since 2013 as he continues his return to the ATP Tour which has been stop-start to say the least. He would have preferred to have a much more straight-forward First Round match than Marcel Granollers who is comfortable on the faster surfaces and can give Tipsarevic all he can handle.

I do like Granollers' chances of progressing to the Second Round because Tipsarevic has been having a few issues trying to find his consistency on his return from injury. I am a big fan of Tipsarevic and would love for him to get back to the level he was producing in 2012, but I have a feeling the Serb might not be able to do that and might not be long for the Tour.

He does love playing tennis, but Tipsarevic won't want to go on a losing run as confidence dips and his age perhaps begin to play a factor in any decision on retirement. The serve is still a decent weapon, but Tipsarevic has struggled to back that up and I think Granollers likely moves through in four sets.

The Spaniard should have enough to get over this number of games too and I will back him to do that.

Novak Djokovic - 6.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: The big question for Novak Djokovic coming into Wimbledon as the defending Champion is whether he has been able to get over what had to be an extreme disappointment in Paris earlier this month. The French Open has long been a main goal for Djokovic and failing to win that tournament, despite beating Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, will have hurt.

The World Number 1 has shown remarkable mental strength in the past to pick himself up after a poor defeat, his run after the US Open defeat to Kei Nishikori last year underlining that point. I expect Novak Djokovic will be good to go at Wimbledon, where he won the title in 2014 after losing the French Open Final, although Philipp Kohlschreiber is as tough a test as he might have expected in the First Round.

The German has been strong on the grass through his career having won the title in Halle before, but Kohlschreiber looks a player on the way down from his peak. Pushing Roger Federer in a three set loss in Halle is one thing, but facing Djokovic on Centre Court at Wimbledon is a huge test for Kohlschreiber.

Djokovic has regularly got the better of Kohlschreiber in the past and even a close first set, which has to be expected after Djokovic missed the grass court season, might not prevent him covering. Once Djokovic settles down, he is good enough to produce a 76, 63, 63 kind of win which will put everyone on notice that no letdown is to be expected.

Lleyton Hewitt - 2.5 games v Jarkko Nieminen: Two veterans meet in the First Round and will both know they might not have too many more opportunities to play on one of the main show courts at Wimbledon in the remainder of their careers. Lleyton Hewitt knows that for sure as he finishes his career after the Australian Open in January 2016, while Jarkko Nieminen can't be too far away from retirement himself, but the winner of this match has the chance to likely meet Novak Djokovic in the Second Round.

This match takes place on Court 2 so will have a big crowd in as the former Champion Lleyton Hewitt looks to end his time in the UK with another positive performance. You know Rusty is going to be desperate to play that match with Novak Djokovic to have one last hurrah in the limelight, but his form has been below par since the Australian Open exit at the hands of Benjamin Becker.

Hewitt is far from a regular on the Tour these days and even the return to grass hasn't really been productive as he was beaten by Nicolas Mahut and Kevin Anderson preparing for Wimbledon. On the other hand, Hewitt had Anderson beaten in that match at Queens and the South African's run to the Final there suggests Hewitt can beat Nieminen for the sixth time in six matches.

I do think Nieminen is a wily veteran, but his own form hasn't exactly been much to write home about and I think Hewitt will appreciate the match up. The lefty serve can be awkward, but Hewitt will have a chance to get into the Nieminen service games as the first serve isn't the biggest. I like Hewitt to come through this match in four sets and I like him to find a cover barring a 60, 61 defeat in a set which is always a worry with the Australian at this stage of his career.

Kristina Mladenovic - 4.5 games v Alexandra Dulgheru: These two players might be 1-1 in the head to head during their career, but Kristina Mladenovic has shown more form of late than Alexandra Dulgheru and looks to have the game that will make her a threat on grass.

Mladenovic has a big serve and heavy groundstrokes that certainly fizz through the court and her confidence has to be in a good place after reaching the Semi Final in Birmingham in preparation for Wimbledon. That follows a Quarter Final appearance in Hertogenbosch and I think Mladenovic will keep Dulgheru under pressure on the scoreboard in this one.

The Romanian has had some success on the grass in the past, but Dulgheru hasn't really given this time of the season much thought in recent years. Even this year she won a couple of qualifiers before being thumped in the First Round in Eastbourne and I am not sure she is that comfortable on the surface these days.

As long as Mladenovic is serving well, Dulgheru will feel the pressure mentally and I expect cracks to form in as she falls to a 63, 64 loss to her opponent.

Caroline Garcia v Heather Watson: I know Caroline Garcia hasn't had a lot of success on grass this season, but she was a Third Round casualty at Wimbledon last year and I am a little surprised she can't do more on this surface. The defeat to Andrea Petkovic was more forgivable than the one to Klara Koukalova, but I still am not convinced that Garcia should be the underdog against Heather Watson.

I mentioned it last week in Watson's loss to Sloane Stephens, but the British Number 1 hasn't had the best record on grass over the last few years and I am not completely convinced she is best suited to the surface. Watson is very much a defensive player on the court, but players are able to hit through her on grass and Garcia has the tools to take her down.

I do wonder about Garcia mentally though- she has a lot of talent but seems to lose her mind a little when things are not quite going as she is expecting. Even when in the lead, Garcia is never far away from a collapse in concentration and belief and that does mean she can slip into defeats that she shouldn't be taking.

The match does have the hallmarks of a three setter, and Watson will definitely get the vocal support on court. However, I think the wrong player is favoured and Garcia is more than good enough to win this match.

MY PICKS: Marcel Granollers - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lleyton Hewitt - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kristina Mladenovic - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)

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