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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cincinnati Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (August 18th)

Rain looks to be the order of the day for the majority of this Masters/Premier Event joint event being held in Cincinnati on Tuesday and the forecast for the next few days won't exactly have the schedule makers jumping for joy.

Monday was rain interrupted through the day, despite the forecast calling for a dry day, and the next three days following suit will mean a lot of double duty as the week progresses. Players like Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova might be particularly disappointed with the forecast in place as they get their US Open preparation under way in Cincinnati after missing the events in Canada.

The rest of the First Round needs to be completed on Tuesday and there will be some Second Round matches scheduled, but it will be interesting to see where the tournament has been left after the day's play is completed if the adverse weather does interrupt proceedings through the day.

One reason I really like the two Masters events during this part of the season is that the fields are small enough to actually be full of quality from the first day. For example, Belinda Bencic, who won the Canadian Premier Event last week, faces Angelique Kerber in the First Round- that is two top 12 players in the World Ranking meeting in the First Round of a Premier Event which highlights the quality on show.

Of course it also has to do with the fact that Bencic's Ranking improved with the win in Canada, but the point still stands.

So how was the first day picks from the tournament? Typical if you have been following the picks for the last month and not in a good way.

How can I not be frustrated when Gilles Muller loses a break advantage and then the first set... Only to recover a break deficit and still lose the second set in a tie breaker too?

Or David Goffin serving very poorly to the point that he is leading 57, 63, 52 against a player that is barely trying, but is still broken when serving for the match and what would have been the cover?

Frustrating... You've read that before this month though!

I would love to be picking players that are losing 60, 60 in matches because at least that way you can change something up... It's a different story when players are broken serving for the match, or when they are converting 10% of break points but allowing opponents to convert closer to 80% and it just makes me think that the picks are obviously getting to the right point and the luck seems to desert them when it is a matter of crossing the line.

It does leave you shaking your head and wondering what is going on? And the absolute worst point is I know that if I had picked the other person each time, they would suddenly fail to become the 'break point saving machine' that they are playing as when I don't want them to.

My results over the last few years has shown that I have some sort of idea of what is happening on a tennis court, but this last month has been disgusting with almost nothing going my way at the critical moment to bring a winner in.

Kevin Anderson - 2.5 games v Leonardo Mayer: You can't always know how a player will react to a loss in a big match that they had a chance of winning and Kevin Anderson is in such a position. After blowing a 2-0 lead at Wimbledon over Novak Djokovic, Anderson has lost both singles matches he has played on the North American hard courts this summer despite being the big favourite in both matches.

Getting back to winning ways is important for Anderson with the final Grand Slam of the season coming up and he should be comfortable on these courts having played his College tennis in the United States. The match up with Leonardo Mayer has been a tough one for Anderson in the past, but the South African has won the last three previous matches.

Prior to that it was Mayer who had won the first two matches against Anderson and he has a decent pop on his serve and strong play from the back of the court which transfers effectively onto the hard courts. It hasn't been a great North American hard court swing for Mayer either, but he has won a couple of matches which might mean he is in a better place mentally than Anderson.

The problem Mayer has had is avoiding the one really poor service game which has seen him punished and it will be that key moment where Anderson will have his chance to win this match. In recent matches between the pair, Anderson has managed to take those break points and while confidence is perhaps a little knocked at the moment, the pressure may see Mayer crack again.

A tie-breaker is always a possibility with Anderson's serve and Mayer's serve capable of running through games, but I think the big South African comes through 76, 64 in this one.

Richard Gasquet - 2.5 games v Nick Kyrgios: This looks like it could be a very fun First Round match to watch, especially if Richard Gasquet and Nick Kyrgios produce the same antics as they did when they met at Wimbledon last month. Smashed racquets, a lot of chatter, and Kyrgios tanking a match were just some of the controversies which came out of that match and I am also looking forward to the reaction the Australian gets from the crowd after his controversial sledge of Stan Wawrinka last week.

There was something a little flat about Kyrgios' performance in his last match against John Isner and Richard Gasquet has given him problems in past meetings with a 3-1 head to head lead. Even the one match Kyrgios won came after Gasquet missed a number of match points and was leading 2-0 in sets at Wimbledon 2014, a match Gasquet got a measure of revenge for this year.

The lack of recent tennis for Gasquet has to be a concern after an early exit in Canada which was his first appearance since reaching the Semi Final at Wimbledon. However, he seems to have a decent read of the Kyrgios serve to the point that he should get enough balls back in play to extract errors from the youngster.

Backhand to backhand rallies shouldn't be an issue for Gasquet and he will have a real chance of winning this match in straight sets if he can serve well. As Kyrgios has shown, he will give opponents a chance to break serve and Gasquet has been solid in taking those opportunities when they have come his way in the past.

Kyrgios is a very talented player so I do think he will have his own chances in this match, but recent mental pressure from the media and the fans likely going to give him a hard time is difficult to deal with. With Gasquet also on the other side of the court, I expect all these factors to come into play in a 76, 64 win for the Frenchman.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: I know Grigor Dimitrov has been having a few issues on and off court which have perhaps contributed to his poor results in recent weeks. However, I think the Bulgarian hasn't been as far from getting back to his best and his win over Lukas Rosol in three tough sets should give him a real confidence boost as that is the kind of match he would have lost.

One of the big issues that Dimitrov has been having is falling into holes that he can't climb out of- Dimitrov has served ok, but he seems to get into a rut at times which has seen him drop serve when put under any kind of pressure.

You can see from the limited chances that opponents have that Dimitrov is feeling the pressure of trying to win matches, but the match up with Vasek Pospisil has been one he has enjoyed. For all the big tennis that Pospisil can play, the backhand side is still a considerable weakness and the Canadian is also someone who throws in too many double faults which will give his opponents a chance to get into his service games.

Dimitrov has exposed that wing of the Pospisil game and has dominated points behind his first serve in past matches against him. If he can do the same again, I expect he will have opportunities to break the Pospisil serve and that can lead to a 75, 64 win and a place in the Third Round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Fernando Verdasco: For all the decent tennis that Fernando Verdasco has produced over the last six weeks, there have been more and more lapses in matches that has cost him the chance to win. You can look at his last three losses and see the opportunities he had in those matches with each one going to three sets and another lapse in a match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will make it very difficult for Verdasco to recover.

There is still a big game that Verdasco brings to the court, but he has not been backing his serve up well enough and there is one big difference between Tsonga and his last three opponents. While Nicolas Almagro, Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios have been a little loose with their own service games, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be tough to peg back if he gets in front with his own serve a huge weapon.

Andy Murray had strong success in his return games against Tsonga last week, but he is one of the best returners on the Tour. In the other three matches played against decent players Borna Coric, Roberto Bautista Agut and Bernard Tomic, Tsonga won at least 71% of his service points and arguably all three are more effective returning than Verdasco.

The Spaniard might be more aggressive than those three which should give him a chance to get into rallies on the offensive on a return, but Verdasco will likely give Tsonga plenty of opportunities too. Tsonga has dominated the head to head between the players in the past too and is in the better form, while the generally faster conditions here in Cincinnati should help him win this 64, 64.

Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 games v Rajeev Ram: Winning the tournament in Newport in July must have played a part in the Cincinnati Masters offering Rajeev Ram a Wild Card into the main draw. The win in Newport moved Ram back inside the top 100 in the World Rankings but the majority of his time is spent on the Challenger circuit these days and Jeremy Chardy should make the difference in quality count.

There are a couple of factors that would worry me, namely the long week Chardy had in Montreal where he reached the Semi Final last week as well as the tight match they had against one another last year in Tokyo. There were a lot of break points for both men in that match, but the faster conditions in Cincinnati should make it easier to hold serve and the real key to the match might be how well Chardy has recovered from last week.

It was a very good week for the Frenchman and he is getting closer to cracking his career best World Ranking of Number 25, but fatigue might play a part, especially if he starts slowly. The points on offer this week are important, but Chardy will have seen Rafael Nadal is next up on deck and I do wonder if he will have a full effort in this match.

However, Ram is not exactly the best player out there- he has a decent serve, but doesn't back it up that effectively although he will put pressure on Chardy by attacking the net. If Chardy can serve as well as he did for much of last week, he should keep Ram on the back foot and find a way to break serve in each set for a 64, 64 win.

Bernard Tomic - 1.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: Bernard Tomic and Alexandr Dolgopolov have had some excellent matches against one another in the past, but the form and the recent head to head is favouring the Australian in this one. Bernard Tomic has won the title in Bogota and he reached the Third Round in Canada last week, while Alexandr Dolgopolov had to come through qualifiers at the last two events.

Dolgopolov has a couple of good wins under his belt to get into the main draw, but he did the same in Canada last week before being beaten in the First Round. He did reach the Third Round in Washington, but otherwise it has been a pretty poor summer for Dolgopolov with a couple of upset losses.

The First Round win for Tomic over Sergiy Stakhovsky has kept the momentum behind the Australian who is at his career best Ranking and looking like he can crack the World top 20 for the first time in the coming weeks.

Matches between Tomic and Dolgopolov have been incredibly competitive and even the last two wins for Tomic in straight sets could easily have gone another way if the big points had changed direction. Tomic has gotten the better of the Dolgopolov second serve and that will be the key shot in this one, although he will have to serve very well to keep his opponent at bay.

This one might need three sets, but Tomic's added confidence from recent performances may just prove to be a difference maker.

MY PICKS: Kevin Anderson - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Bernard Tomic - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Cincinnati Masters Update: 1-2, - 2.40 Units (6 Units Staked, - 40% Yield)

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