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Friday, 21 August 2015

Cincinnati Masters Tennis Picks 2015 (August 21st)

There were literally about three points which could have turned the entire day around yesterday and produced a very strong winning record.

Ivo Karlovic saved a break point with a volley that hit the frame of his racquet which would have seen Stan Wawrinka cover the small number... Anything other than the frame and the ball either doesn't go over the net or is popped up for an easy finish for Wawrinka, but the frame job meant the ball died over the net!

Alexandr Dolgopolov had two match points at 5-2 in the final set but missed both and if both had won their matches, it would have led to a 5-2 day, rather than a 3-4 one.

The Quarter Finals are to be played on Friday and there are some top matches out on the courts for the fans to enjoy.

I did consider backing Stan Wawrinka with the games to at least cover versus Novak Djokovic, but I think his poor record against Djokovic outside of the Slams and the doubts about both players makes that a tough match to call. I do think Djokovic is there to be beaten this week on his first couple of performances and a more accomplished player than David Goffin would have beaten him on Thursday, but Wawrinka seems to be struggling mentally from the issues that came out last week and it is going to be close either way.

One more game and I would have picked Wawrinka, but he was still tempting at odds against.

Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v Alexander Dolgopolov: It was an impressive and routine win for Tomas Berdych on Thursday as he crushed Tommy Robredo for the loss of just one game. There won't be an issues regarding his fitness and Berdych should be ready to reach yet another Masters Semi Final, his fourth of the season.

Berdych has been very consistent through 2015 and has regularly been at the business end of events if not quite having enough to go a little further and pick up the title. He has reached three Finals this season, but Berdych is yet to add to his career 10 titles and it is going to be tough for him to match the 2 he had last season.

This tournament might present a good chance for Berdych to break his 2015 duck as there are questions about how much is left in the tank for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. I fully expect Berdych to continue his strong head to head against Alexandr Dolgopolov who has had to battle through a lot of tennis this week having begun the week in the qualifiers.

The erratic play from Dolgopolov makes him a dangerous customer, particularly on the faster surfaces, but he it also means he is likely to throw in a couple of shocking service games. That should give Berdych and his usually consistent level of play the chance to come through this, after a few difficult moments, with a 64, 64 win.

Roger Federer - 4.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: On Thursday, Roger Federer dismantled the big game he was facing from Kevin Anderson for the loss of just two games as he continues his love affair with the Cincinnati Masters. Instead of the big Quarter Final we all wanted to see against Rafael Nadal, Federer will play Feliciano Lopez in the evening and he will be expected to extend his winning run against the Spaniard.

For the last couple of sets on Thursday, Lopez served very well against Rafael Nadal, although I think the latter missed a trick with his return of serve that Federer simply won't. The first serve Lopez has is a big weapon, but Nadal did nullify that in the first set and Federer is capable of getting a lot of low balls back to make the serve-volley very difficult for Lopez to execute.

There is no doubt this is a dangerous number of games to cover if Lopez is serving first, but Federer showed he is capable of breaking down big games against Anderson and break multiple times. The Lopez backhand is going to be severely tested against the forehand Federer possesses and I think the Federer backhand has improved enough to make some tough passes.

Federer created multiple break points in a match against Lopez last year at the Canadian Masters and took two of those for a routine 63, 64 win. I think he is playing well enough to match that again and move into yet another Semi Final in Cincinnati.

Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 games v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova: It has been a good six weeks of tennis since Wimbledon for Anna Karolina Schmiedlova who picked up a title on the clay courts and has also reached the Semi Final of another event on that surface.

The move to the hard courts might have been a difficult transition for some players, but Schmiedlova has come through the qualifiers in Cincinnati won three matches in the main draw to reach the Quarter Finals. The improvement in the World Ranking will mean Schmiedlova won't have to qualify for events like this in the foreseeable future, but she will also feel the Quarter Final against Jelena Jankovic gives her a great chance to progress further.

However, Jankovic has had a very good week herself with some impressive wins over the likes of Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova which will have given her some confidence. Jankovic is no longer as consistent in her play as the days that took her up to World Number 1, but her last big run in North America took her to the Indian Wells Premier Event Final.

Her run was ended by Serena Williams in this Round last year, but Jankovic can battle past Schmiedlova in another tough three setter and also get over this number.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: An injury to Victoria Azarenka helped Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova into the Quarter Final despite losing the first set 61 and I think the challenge of Simona Halep will be too much for the Russian. There is plenty of power in the Pavlyuchenkova game, but her movement has always been questionable and someone like Halep is capable of exposing those holes.

After retiring with an injury in the Toronto Final last week, Halep has shown plenty of character to win two three set matches this week to get into the Quarter Final. The heat and a leg injury contributed to that retirement in Toronto, but Halep seems to have overcome that and is playing in the cooler evening conditions in Cincinnati which should aid her.

Her serve can be an issue, but I expect Halep to use her superior movement to keep Pavlyuchenkova from hitting from a standing position when her power can be tough to deal with. I think that movement is a big reason Halep has been able to win all four previous matches against Pavlyuchenkova and three of those wins have come by wide margins which would cover this number.

Of course you have to be concerned with the cramping and leg issues she had in Canada, but Halep has battled hard this week and I think she can win this 64, 62.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Stan James (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 4.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)

Cincinnati Masters Update: 11-11, - 2.34 Units (44 Units Staked, - 5.32% Yield)

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