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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 29th)

It was always going to be difficult to get the taste of last week out of the mouth, but I have moved on and looking to get this season back on track after a truly horrific week.

Shoots of revival sprouted on Tuesday and hopefully that will be a chance for this week to provide a decent return and cut some of those poor losses from last week. Signs came from the likes of Juan Monaco and Tommy Robredo coming as winners in matches they would most certainly have lost last week so that was a positive for me.

The Second Round matches begin in the tournaments on the Tour on Wednesday although the hope will be that some of the poor weather expected can be avoided for long enough to see those matches played.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kateryna Bondarenko: I haven't paid much attention to the tournament in Baku so far this week because I simply haven't seen a match that fits into my criteria. The first match that may fall in is the Second Round match between the Number 1 Seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kateryna Bondarenko.

It was Bondarenko who came through the First Round match in more impressive form and that has backed up her successful run in Istanbul last week. Another strong run could see Bondarenko return to the top 100 in the World Rankings as she becomes accustomed to playing at the main Tour level again.

That form definitely gives her a chance to beat Pavlyuchenkova and I can understand why the layers are taking no chances with the Bondarenko price considering how the Russian has played through 2015. This looks certain to be Pavlyuchenkova's worst performance since 2008, but the hard courts remain her best surface and I think she is capable of winning this kind of match even in her current state.

A poor season is hard to ignore, but the win in the First Round might have shown Pavlyuchenkova that she still has enough character to win close matches. I also feel the last ten days has perhaps inflated the Pavlyuchenkova price as Bondarenko has been in decent form, but she has had suffered losses to players that aren't of the quality of the Russian and this might be a three set win for the Number 1 Seed.

Juan Monaco - 4.5 games v Lucas Pouille: It was another strange topsy-turvy performance from Juan Monaco in his First Round win over Ernests Gulbis but he did get through and should be too strong for Lucas Pouille in this Second Round match.

Pouille has done very well to come through the qualifiers and win his First Round match while the youngster has also reached the Semi Final of a Challenger event on the clay courts recently. Those results will have given him some real confidence heading into this match, but the quality of opposition has increased and I think Monaco will be able to wear him down.

The problem with a spread of games like this is Monaco's tendency to throw in a poor service game or two in each set, while he can sometimes settle into the long rallies on clay and look to grind down opponents. That might be an issue against someone like Pouille who will look to be aggressive, although Monaco's clay court ability should give him enough of an edge.

It was Monaco who won the match when the pair met at the French Open in 2014 and Pouille is also someone that can sometimes fall apart when trying to play the long game that you have to on the clay. That has led to some lopsided sets against him and Monaco can win this match 64, 63.

Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: It might not have been the season he would have wanted, especially on the clay courts, but Fabio Fognini had a strong win over Jeremy Chardy in the First Round. He will hope to have a much better performance when it comes to serving than he offered in the last two sets of that win, but Fognini will know what he needs to do in this match to get the win.

That might produce a better performance when it comes to serving as Fognini looks back at his 6-0 head to head record against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Fognini can't overlook what the Spaniard can bring to the table after an impressive win over Nicolas Almagro, but Fognini has much better movement than Almagro and will make Ramos-Vinolas play many more shots.

Fognini was returning well in his match with Chardy and the Italian is going to get plenty of balls back in play to slowly wear down Ramos-Vinolas. The latter has only won two of the fourteen sets played between them and Fognini has won three matches in a row against Ramos-Vinolas without dropping a set.

If Ramos-Vinolas is serving as well as he was against Almagro then he will cause some problems for Fognini, but the latter is the better clay court player and I expect him to show that in a 63, 75 win.

Santiago Giraldo - 4.5 games v Marsel Ilhan: These two players dropped just eight games between them in their First Round wins, but it would be a surprise to me if Santiago Giraldo is not able to beat Marsel Ilhan in this Second Round match.

While Ilhan has put together some decent wins, his defeats have to be worrying in the manner he has fallen away in matches. Just looking through some of his recent defeats and you can see plenty of 60, 61 or 62 scorelines and the loss to Ernests Gulbis last week while winning just two games is nothing short of embarrassing for Ilhan when considering how Gulbis has been playing.

Now he faces an opponent who is very comfortable on the clay courts and Giraldo had an impressive win in the First Round which will give him confidence. I do think Ilhan has shown he can be a problem to deal with when he serves well, but Giraldo has the power to keep him on the back foot and should be a little too experienced.

Ilhan is never too far from a heavy defeat, but this one might be a little more respectful on the scoreboard as I expect Giraldo to win this 63, 64.

Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 games v Stephane Robert: It was a disappointing Quarter Final defeat for Thomaz Bellucci in Bastad last week, but he has to look at the positives on his wins at that tournament. The matches under his belt should also help in Gstaad where Bellucci is one of the favourites to win the title, especially as Stan Wawrinka withdrew before the tournament began.

The Brazilian was an easy winner in the First Round and his clay court pedigree should give him a huge edge over the veteran Stephane Robert. It is something of a surprise that Robert has returned to the Tour off an injury that took away the last five months of the 2014 season, but he has shown some signs of producing some good tennis.

However, it has to be admitted that the clay courts are not usually the favourite for Robert and he should be put under pressure by Bellucci who has some power behind his groundstrokes. The backhand can be a weakness, but Bellucci can dictate behind his forehand as long as he is serving well.

I have seen Robert give some decent players more problems than his game should really produce so Bellucci would be wise not to underestimate him. However, I think the Brazilian ends up on the right side of a 63, 64 win in this one as he better performances on the clay courts pays dividends.

Adrian Mannarino - 3.5 games v Go Soeda: It was a very good week for Adrian Mannarino in Bogota last week, but he might have been a little disappointed he didn't complete it with a title. The fact he was Seeded in Atlanta means Mannarino has had a bit more time to get ready for this match, although he can't underestimate Go Soeda who had an impressive come from behind win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the First Round.

It was a surprising loss for Dolgopolov who had been the better player in the first two sets and I think Mannarino will give Soeda more trouble simply because of his consistency. The serve of neither player will be worrying the other, but Mannarino's is a lefty serve which can be a difference maker in tight matches.

The win in the First Round was a rare occurrence for Soeda on the main Tour and he has hardly been pulling up trees in the Challenger matches he has played either. Soeda did reach the Semi Final in his sole appearance in Atlanta back in 2012, but these two players have gone in different directions in those years since.

That was also the year that Soeda and Mannarino met for the sole time on Tour as the Frenchman won in three sets. However, I think Mannarino has a slightly easier time this time around barring any fatigue that has set in from his very strong run in Bogota. If the extra day has given Mannarino time to recover physically and mentally, I would imagine this is the kind of match he wins 64, 64.

MY PICKS: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Santiago Giraldo - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-3, + 4.38 Units (18 Units Staked, + 24.33% Yield)

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