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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 18th)

The first day of the Davis Cup Quarter Finals are in the book and you have to say it was a fascinating day with surprises, big comebacks, and teams on the brink of making it through to the Semi Finals. In fact the ties in Australia, Belgium and Argentina could all be completed on Saturday if the leading nation wins the Doubles rubber, although I am convinced that at least one of those ties is going to be surprising most tennis fans.

Australia were hosting Kazakhstan on the grass courts in Darwin and I had them as a pretty strong favourite to progress to the Semi Final, but both Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios were beaten on the first day to put their nation in a big hole. It is not quite over yet for Australia as they are likely the favourites to win the remaining three rubbers, but Kazakhstan have raised their game when the players join up for Davis Cup duty and they look set to move on to take on France or Great Britain.

With Argentina and Belgium both 2-0 up in their ties too, the closest tie going into the weekend and the only one guaranteed to have at least one match on Sunday is the one between Great Britain and France.

The Doubles rubber does look to be pivotal in the tie assuming Andy Murray is to win his remaining Singles rubber and the French will be big favourites to see off James Ward for a second time.

While the Doubles takes centre stage in the Davis Cup ties being played around the world, the tournaments in Bastad, Bucharest and Newport have reached the Semi Finals as those events come to a close. It is a real chance for some players to improve their Rankings while the 'big names' are having a break and the inconsistency lower down the World Rankings has been highlighted this week with a number of surprising names in the Semi Finals.

None of the players will care though as they have a chance to win a title which can't be taken off the record as those Semi Finals are played through the day.

Johanna Larsson - 2.5 games v Yulia Putintseva: There are only two places in the World Rankings that separate Johanna Larsson from Yulia Putintseva and the two players have both been in decent form to suggest this will be a close match.

Both players were Finalists in clay tournaments last week and have barely been pushed on their runs to the Semi Finals here in Bastad. However, I am giving the edge to Larsson who has enjoyed playing in front of her home fans as her previous results in Bastad have suggested and she has a couple of weapons that may give her the chance to progress to another Final here.

The first of those is the serve where Larsson is capable of getting some very good angles and decent kick from it which could be a problem for Putintseva to deal with. Putintseva is one of the smaller girls out on Tour and the kicker might make it difficult for her to get on the front foot like she likes to do and that might allow Larsson to also dictate points.

The second is the obvious fun that Larsson has playing in Bastad and she is more than capable of winning the title here. She seems to have been in more control of her own emotions and Putintseva never seems that far away from mentally getting down on herself as she showed in her Second Round match with Alize Lim.

It might need three sets to separate the players, but I like Larsson to find her way through to the Final with a 57, 64, 63 win in this Semi Final.

Sara Errani - 2.5 games v Monica Niculescu: Monica Niculescu is the last remaining home favourite in Bucharest having disposed of Andreea Mitu in the Quarter Final but this looks a tough match up for her. The Romanian might be one of the more awkward players on the Tour to play with her variation of play and slice off both wings, but Sara Errani has won the last three matches between them.

Sara Errani is someone who won't mind all the skilful tennis that is likely to be on display as she will feel she can grind down Niculescu in the longer, drawn out rallies that we will likely see.

I am expecting a lot of breaks of serve in this one as neither of the players have a powerful serve that is going to earn a lot of cheap points. However, I think Errani is the better clay court player even if she has slipped from the level she showed a couple of years ago.

I think the Italian has also shown a little better form this week and Errani should be capable of winning this match and moving into the Final if she is not distracted by the crowd or the shot selection Niculescu will use. It could be tight for a couple of sets, but Errani should then break clear by just knuckling down enough on serve and moving to the Final.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova - 2.5 games v Polona Hercog: It hasn't been a great week for the picks, but one player that I have backed with some success is Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. I see no reason to not back her again in this Semi Final against Polona Hercog even if the latter has been in good form this week too.

As impressive as Hercog has been in moving into the Semi Final having lost just fifteen games in three matches, Schmiedlova has been even better with just ten games lost in the same number of matches. Both have had some impressive wins, but I do think Schmiedlova's run has been the better of the two and she may also hold the mental edge having beaten Hercog in Miami as the underdog earlier this season.

It is Schmiedlova who has had the better success on this surface, but this has the makings of a close match where Schmiedlova will have to play the big points as well as she did in the Quarter Final.

The week has been a good one for Hercog, but she had been struggling prior to this time in Bucharest and I think her run comes to an end here. Schmiedlova should note that Hercog is someone that does enjoy playing the drop shots, but dealing with those and being aware of that shot should aid her in a fairly routine win.

MY PICKS: Johanna Larsson - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sara Errani - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-12, - 9.22 Units (40 Units Staked, - 23.05% Yield)

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