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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 28th)

There wasn't a lot of tennis being played at the various tournaments in the main draws on Monday, but that only means a full schedule is set for the Tuesday as the First Round matches are completed.

Hamburg has the roof which means they will definitely have tennis played all through the day, but there is plenty of rain around the other events and it could be either a delayed day or one where the schedule is moved around to accommodate all of the matches and keep the tournaments on track.

Aljaz Bedene - 2.5 games v Daniel Gimeno-Traver: The British Number 2 has only recently began to represent Great Britain, but it has sparked Aljaz Bedene to a career high Ranking.

He hasn't quite been able to bring his form onto the main Tour, but Bedene has won a couple of Challenger events on the clay and will feel he can get the better of Daniel Gimeno-Traver. As suited as the Spaniard is to the clay courts, Gimeno-Traver is on a six game losing run on the Singles Tour since the French Open and that will have reduced his confidence.

Gimeno-Traver did have some success earlier this season on the clay courts, but recent weeks have been much more of a struggle and losses to Salvatore Caruso and Steve Darcis are disappointing to say the least.

It won't be an easy match for Aljaz Bedene despite his improved results compared with Gimeno-Traver, especially as he is yet to really produce at this level. His opponent has reached a Final of a main Tour event on the clay courts this season and there should be some long rallies between the players, but I think the confidence Bedene has makes the difference and helps him move through and cover.

Juan Monaco - 2.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: Juan Monaco was a disappointing early loser in Bastad last week on his return to the Tour for the first time since Wimbledon, but Ernests Gulbis has had a disappointing 2015 in general. There have been little signs that the Latvian is about to turn a corner and this is a difficult match to try and turn things around considering Monaco has won 4 of 6 matches between the players.

As poor as Monaco played last week, this has actually be something of a revival season for him and he is on course for his best record in recent years. The clay courts remain his most productive surface despite the early loss last week and his confidence will still be in a much stronger place than Gulbis'.

Gulbis had won 73 matches in 2013 and 2014, but he looks set for his lowest match wins on the main Tour since 2007 which came very early in his career. He has failed to win back to back matches throughout 2015 and he has been beaten on the clay courts by players much less comfortable on this surface than Monaco.

My biggest concern for this pick is the sometimes erratic play that both players can produce which could blow this one up for me. However, I think Monaco is the better player at this moment on his favourite surface and can wear down Gulbis as long as he isn't as generous with his mistakes as he was in Bastad.

Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: There is no doubt that Fabio Fognini is one of the hardest players to really know what he is going to give you on any given day. One day he can be so good that he would give almost any player on the Tour trouble, but on another Fognini will look disinterested and barely put in a concerted effort to win matches.

It does surprise me that he has got the better of Jeremy Chardy in all four previous matches including three times on the clay although the first two of those were almost a decade ago and perhaps irrelevant now.

Fognini might be a little disappointed he only reached the Quarter Final last week in Umag after this portion of the season proved to be so effective for him in 2013. The Italian has reached a Final on the clay earlier this season, but his most impressive results have come on the Doubles Tour and Fognini will be looking to have a big week in Hamburg.

He is playing Jeremy Chardy who reached the Fourth Round at the French Open, but has lost four Singles matches in a row heading into this match. The run at the French Open has been a rare success for Chardy who looks like he will have his worst record on the Tour over the last four seasons.

I like the talent Chardy possesses, but he is very inconsistent and this season the results haven't been there. It should be in Fognini's ability to win this match and I will back him to cover the games too.

Fernando Verdasco + 4.5 games v Rafael Nadal: I am hoping this is going to be a big week for Rafael Nadal because I would love to see him get back competing for the top prizes in tennis. He took a Wild Card into Hamburg which was the right move as far as I was concerned, but he would have absolutely have liked to have an easier First Round match than against Fernando Verdasco.

This was usually a match that up that Nadal loved as he won the first fourteen matches in a row, but it is Fernando Verdasco who has won the last two including earlier this season. Even Nadal's huge success on the clay should not intimidate Verdasco as the other win he has had over his compatriot came on the clay courts of Madrid.

I will point out that the conditions in both Madrid and Miami would give Verdasco a chance, but I also think Nadal is perhaps not as quick around the court as he used to be and so Verdasco's big shots have more penetration. Nadal's serve has been more vulnerable than he would have liked this season and Verdasco has the big game to really push the Number 1 Seed in this one.

I do think Nadal is still trying to build confidence and that should give Verdasco a chance to get close to a third straight win over Nadal. Recent matches between the two players have been very competitive and backing Verdasco with the games at odds against looks a big price.

Tommy Robredo - 3.5 games v Alexander Zverev: Tommy Robredo got the better of Alexander Zverev in Bastad last week in the Semi Final and it will be interesting if the youngster has learned much from the experience. He will have the home crowd firmly behind him in this First Round match, but I think Robredo has the edge with the surface to his liking and I believe he wears down the German for the second time in less than a week.

There is plenty of talent that Zverev possesses, but any young player on the Tour experiences some ups and downs and he hasn't had the best results on the clay. However, Zverev did reach the Semi Final in Hamburg last season and the conditions here are clearly some he should appreciate.

He will also look to take advantage of any disappointment that Robredo may have after failing to win the title in Bastad on Sunday. An early loss for Robredo will mean that he is likely to have his lowest number of wins on the clay courts since his injury affected season in 2012.

Robredo can be vulnerable at times if a player gets hot and begins to hit through him, but he will look to use all of his veteran experience to keep Zverev at bay. The Spaniard will be happy with the longer rallies that tend to come out on the clay courts and he'll be looking to protect serve as he did when these players met in the Semi Final last week. If he can do that, Robredo can win this match 75, 64 and move into the Second Round.

Santiago Giraldo - 3.5 games v Paolo Lorenzi: This has not been the season that Santiago Giraldo may have wanted mainly because of his lack of consistency on the clay courts. That is compared to the 18 wins he had last season as Giraldo is yet to reach double digit wins on the surface in 2015.

Giraldo has had some disappointing defeats on clay this season, but the Colombian is still likely to be too strong for Paolo Lorenzi as the Italian has really had a hard time on the main Tour. Lorenzi plays a lot of his tournaments on the clay courts and that includes Challenger events but he has had only 13 total wins on the clay this season compared with the 38 he had last year in main Tour and Challenger events combined.

The expectation has to be that Giraldo will have a little more power than Lorenzi and I think he has the more consistent serve which should set him up in points a little better. Those small things can make all the differences in matches and might be enough to ensure Giraldo earns a break more in each set to win this match.

I doubt Giraldo makes anything straight-forward though on current form, but I am still expecting him to win this one 75, 64.

Lukas Lacko + 4.5 games v Steve Johnson: When these players met at Wimbledon last month, Steve Johnson was expected to dismiss Lukas Lacko easily but found himself 2-1 down in sets. He rallied to win in five sets which will give the American the edge back on the courts he would be familiar with in North America, but not enough for him to be giving up this many games as far as I am concerned.

Lacko has plenty of strong shots in his arsenal, but nothing spectacular and that makes him a very inconsistent player. I am sure there is more about him that should see him far higher than outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but he is inconsistent and is just as likely to win a match as he is to lose to that same opponent 61, 61.

It is a bit of a risk backing someone who has that kind of performance in him, but Steve Johnson is another who is never too far away from throwing in a real dud of a performance. That can be highlighted by his defeats over the last six weeks to the likes of Florian Mayer, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Tatsuma Ito, all when Johnson was going in as the favourite.

The American has only had two previous visits to Atlanta and was beaten in the Second Round after coming through against Donald Young in three sets the first time before a First Round loss to Sam Querrey last year. This has been a tournament that Lacko has enjoyed in contrast to Johnson as he does have two Quarter Final appearances in three visits to Atlanta and the feeling is that he keeps this close even if he eventually is beaten.

MY PICKS: Aljaz Bedene - 2.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco + 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Robredo - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Santiago Giraldo - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lukas Lacko + 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.34 Units (4 Units Staked, - 8.5% Yield)

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