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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (August 13th)

A Masters event is always important for players building their confidence and Ranking points heading into Grand Slam tournaments, so the headlines will always be there.

However, not many on the circuit would have wanted to wake up to the controversy which came out of the Stan Wawrinka-Nick Kyrgios match in Montreal where 'sledging' was taken to a new and pretty stupid level.

Sledging might be part of other sports, but it hasn't been a big feature of the tennis Tour with a handful of events over the years. Some might have used things to fire themselves up, but not many players have taken the personal attack that Nick Kyrgios decided to resort to yesterday.

'Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate'...

I like Kyrgios as a character on the Tour that will bring in the casual viewers if he can maintain some form on the court, but this statement was frankly ridiculous.

I'd love to know how Thanasi Kokkinakis feels about being named in this manner- there is no way anyone would want to be involved in such controversy and I am sure he will have a few words with his friend about use of his name in future.

Stan Wawrinka is rightly disgusted by the comments, although I would like to know if he heard them when they were made on court or whether they were relayed to him after the match. Very few will come out and defend Kyrgios and I do wonder what his mindset will be going into his Third Round match on Thursday against John Isner.

All in all I have defended Kyrgios' more controversial moments in the past, but this time it was too much and I think he needs to come out and apologise and try to work on his temperament a little. You can't take away all of the fire, but a clear line has to be drawn for Kyrgios with a reminder that he simply can't cross that.

Simona Halep v Angelique Kerber: Both Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber could surpass their number of wins from last season, but I also think both players might look at 2015 as a 'what might have been' season despite the likely improved number of wins.

A slow start was made by Kerber, but she has improved in each passing month and won the title in Stanford last week which is a big tournament in preparation for the US Open. However, Kerber has suffered relatively early exits at each of the Grand Slam events this season which she will hope to rectify at the US Open.

Simona Halep made another strong start to 2015 with three titles from the first four tournaments played and a Quarter Final at the Australian Open and Semi Final at the Miami Premier Event. However it has been a lot poorer by her standards of the last two years in the last few months as very early exits at the French Open and Wimbledon highlighted. Halep returned to the Tour with a very good win over Jelena Jankovic and she has won both previous matches against Kerber as she looks to get to another Quarter Final.

This should be a grind for both players with some long rallies developing, but I think Kerber might be the one that is worn down having had a long week in Stanford last week before travelling to Toronto. Break points should be seen by both players and I believe Halep can get the better of those in an eventual three set win.

Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 games v Sara Errani: Some might have called Victoria Azarenka's win over Petra Kvitova an upset, but she was a strong favourite to do that and the latter has been suffering with an illness. This is the first tournament that Azarenka has played since Wimbledon, but her two wins so far have come in impressive fashion and she should be full of confidence to take on Sara Errani who has had to work a bit harder.

Errani has been taken to three sets each time this week compared with Azarenka winning in straight sets, but her matches haven't been long so she should be ready to compete. However, the Italian continues to try and have to battle deep to make up for her poor serving and it is no surprise that she has been beaten heavily in the majority of her losses on the hard courts.

The faster surfaces means she has little time to react to a serve which is essentially nothing more than a rally starter and gives her opponents a chance to play first strike tennis. Someone with the consistency that Victoria Azarenka has will enjoy a lot of her return games against Errani and I am not surprised she has won 7 of their 8 previous matches.

A lot of those wins have come by wide margins and the key for Azarenka is making sure she can hold onto her own serve for much of the match. Errani can be a player that gets a lot of balls back in play so will have her opportunities to break serve, but eventually Azarenka should prevail 62, 64.

Ernests Gulbis - 1.5 games v Donald Young: Not many people would have tipped Ernests Gulbis and Donald Young making the Third Round of a Masters event this summer as both have been out of form. However, both have come through four matches to reach this Round which includes winning two qualifiers, although Gulbis has had to dig deeper through the week.

While Young has dropped just the one set all week and beat Tomas Berdych in straight sets, Gulbis has been pushed to three sets in each of his last three matches. The Latvian hasn't played anyone of the level of Berdych, but the win over Dominic Thiem was a solid result and Gulbis might have more belief than he has shown throughout 2015 having bounced back from dropping the second set to beat Lukas Rosol in the Second Round.

You have to think that both players are feeling better this week, but are probably not too far away from having a crisis as they try to turn their form. Both Young and Gulbis can build some important Ranking points over the rest of the week, but I think I am giving the edge to Gulbis.

He has shown he can handle adversity this week which will make him feel a lot better than he has through 2015 and I think the left-handed Young will naturally go into Gulbis' backhand strength. I would not be surprised at all if we see a three setter between these two, but I think Gulbis will eventually break down the American's game and come through.

John Isner v Nick Kyrgios: I really don't know how Nick Kyrgios is going to react to the latest controversy in his young career after being caught on the microphones abusing Stan Wawrinka. He might thrive in this situation, but I think Kyrgios could potentially play within himself to try and cool the media and that might play into the hands of John Isner.

The big serving American beat the home hope Vasek Pospisil in the last Round, but I imagine the fans might be backing Isner in this match and could potentially get on Kyrgios' back which won't help the youngster. Isner will also just go about his business which is to send enough booming serves down to get ahead on the scoreboard and try to work his way through.

However, the serve hasn't been as dominant as he might have hoped so far this week and Isner has two long weeks in his legs having won the title in Atlanta and reached the Final in Washington. Both matches this week have taken three sets for Isner to reach the Third Round and so tiredness is a big worry for him.

His return game is not exactly the best either which means breaks could be at a premium in this one, but I think the pressure being put on Kyrgios after his antics on Wednesday may just affect him enough for Isner to move through.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: Rafael Nadal would have perhaps been a little nervous heading into his first hard court match of the North American swing heading to the US Open. However, there have been suggestions from his camp that Nadal is ready for three big tournaments culminating at the final Grand Slam of the season and he has made a decent start with a comfortable win over Sergiy Stakhovsky in the Second Round.

There are still some issues with the serve which would worry me as it does look a little vulnerable which the better players on Tour will certainly feel they can take advantage. I still want to see Nadal play the bigger points a little more confidently, but I think Mikhail Youzhny might not be capable of doing enough in this one.

It has been the best week of 2015 for Youzhny by a country mile, and he is playing with the clock turned back. However, Nadal has found his way against the Russian and crushed him at the Australian Open earlier this season and the match up is no longer one that worries him having lost half of their first six matches but gone 9-1 since.

Nadal will play every point with his all which makes the Spaniard someone you can at least trust, while I can't imagine Youzhny is used to playing this much tennis in a short period. Unless we have entered a break in the space time continuum and Youznhy has pulled his form from earlier in his career, I would like Nadal winning this one 63, 63.

MY PICKS: Simona Halep @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis - 1.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
John Isner @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.15 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-4, - 3.06 Units (14 Units Staked, - 21.86% Yield)

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