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Monday, 17 August 2015

Cincinnati Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (August 17th)

The Canadian Masters is in the books and Andy Murray might not have been able to give himself a bigger boost for his assault on the US Open later this month than by winning that title and beating Novak Djokovic in the Final.

Too many times over the last couple of years Murray has found himself in the same position as he was early in the final set with Novak Djokovic only to see the World Number 1 outlast him. It was a point Djokovic wasn't shy about making to the media, so the fact that Murray dug deep to put the second set behind him, save a break point, and then come through an epic game in the middle of the set to hold serve is only going to pave good things for the World Number 2.

That is where Murray finds himself after winning the title in Montreal as he overtook Roger Federer who is now on a limited schedule these days. In the Singles Race, Federer is actually Number 4 and he has a lot of points to defend over the next month in Cincinnati and at the US Open, although Federer will be comfortable he can do that through past experiences at both events.

It is the first time Federer returns to the court after the Wimbledon Final loss to Djokovic last month, but he recovered from a similar situation in 2014 to reach the Final in Toronto, win the title in Cincinnati and reach the Semi Final at Flushing Meadows. He should have a fairly comfortable way to work his way into the tournament as Federer's preparation for the US Open begins later than his rivals and this looks an important week for him, arguably more so than for any of the other expected favourites at the US Open.

The tournaments held in Canada last week also might have given the WTA players ready to play the final Grand Slam of the season some real hope that they can prevent Serena Williams winning the season Grand Slam. There is an injury that Williams is seemingly having to deal with which is preventing her from getting the same pop on her serve and the Semi Final defeat to Belinda Bencic might have inspired others to believe they can do the same.

The key might be to get Williams early as too many of her rivals have poor recent memories of playing Serena, but the expected cruise to the US Open title that some may have looked for is no longer looking like it will be the case.

If Williams is knocked off in Cincinnati this week too, the confidence of her rivals will certainly rise and make the US Open another intriguing tournament.

The First Round matches began on Sunday in Cincinnati and there is a full scheduled on Monday as both men's and women's events get fully underway.

Vasek Pospisil - 2.5 games v Denis Kudla: Two qualifiers meet in the First Round on Monday and both Vasek Pospisil and Denis Kudla dropped just one set on their way through their first two matches in Cincinnati.

Both won matches against some tough opponents in the qualifiers after relatively early exits in Montreal last week. Neither player has really put together the results during the North American hard court swing as they would have liked going into the final Grand Slam of the season, although Kudla reached the Semi Final in Atlanta where Pospisil was a Quarter Finalist.

The serve will be important for both Pospisil and Kudla and that is where I have to say I trust the Canadian player to get the better of his American opponent. Pospisil might not have had a truly deep run in a tournament this summer, but he has lost to the 'better' players than Kudla and I think his serve will offer up a few more 'cheap' points that should set him up to overcome this opponent.

It will be far from easy because Kudla is capable of playing some very good tennis, but his recent losses to Blaz Rola and Donald Young don't look very good on paper. The double faults that Pospisil can sometimes throw in are a concern as that will give Kudla confidence to get into his service games, but the all around game that Pospisil has should be enough to secure a 76, 64 win.

Gilles Muller - 2.5 games v Benoit Paire: Benoit Paire moves into the main draw as a Lucky Loser, but that doesn't mean this is going to be an easy day for Gilles Muller. In fact, I think it makes Paire a dangerous opponent for Muller who is just one place higher in the World Rankings, especially if the Frenchman is focused like he was during the European clay court events this past month.

However, the fact that Paire hasn't played much hard court tennis in recent months might be the factor that gives Muller the edge. The latter has a big serve that should work well on the faster North American hard courts and Muller did reach the Semi Finals in Atlanta and also the Third Round in Montreal last week.

Both players can put together very strong service games and this might come down to one or two key points in each set determining who will win the match. I just think Muller has put in more stock in the North American hard court swing and he might just have a little more belief in his game on the surface compared with Paire.

However, Muller will need to serve well to keep the Frenchman from gaining any confidence in this match. He has been a little looser with his serve on this surface because the ball doesn't bounce as low as a grass court for instance so Muller has to make more volleys and win more points from further back in the court.

Paire should offer some chances to break serve with his own erratic play, but the pick is made with the hope that Muller is serving well through the match to lead to a 76, 64 win.

David Goffin - 3.5 games v Yen-Hsun Lu: I have made a point of mentioning what a difficult opponent someone like Yen-Hsun Lu can make on a hard court with his style of play. There isn't a lot of ups and downs in the Lu performances and he has an under-rated serve that can cause problems, while also comfortable rallying from the back of the court.

After winning two qualifiers, Lu will be confident going into the main draw, but David Goffin has moved up to 14 in the World Rankings by consistently beating players he is expected to. Goffin also has an under-rated first serve, but it is his return game that can give opponents some real difficulties and I expect him to make plenty of Lu serves back and force his opponent to beat him off the ground.

Goffin hasn't been at his best on the hard courts, but wins over Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey last week show he is more than capable of beating players of Lu's level. It does have to be noted that the majority of the upset losses that Goffin has taken this year is on the hard courts, but he is already having a career best year on the main Tour and confidence is very high.

I do expect both players to have their chances in this one and it might come down to who plays the key points best in terms of the cover. But I do believe Goffin creates the more break point opportunities and it comes down to whether he can just take those when they come about if he is going to end up with the expected 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Vasek Pospisil - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Goffin - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Canadian Masters Final: 8-8, - 0.44 Units (32 Units Staked, - 1.38% Yield)

Season 2015- 3.01 Units (1292 Units Staked, - 0.00% Yield)

Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)

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