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Friday, 28 August 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (August 28th)

It was a tough day for the picks yesterday as neither player picked won more than five games over two sets. With the US Open days away, that kind of lacklustre effort is not a huge surprise as players begin to shift their focus to that event and perhaps don't want to drain the tank ahead of the final Grand Slam.

I am not sure that was the case for either pick yesterday to be honest, but it was a disappointment all the same.

On Friday the Semi Finals in New Haven and Winston Salem are being played and I have a couple of picks from those matches. I will also be keeping an eye on some of the British representatitves in the US Open Qualifiers who are one match away from making the main draw, especially Johanna Konta who I thought could have improved her Ranking to make the man draw without having to win three more matches this week.

Konta has gotten into the top 100 in the World Rankings having won the title in Vancouver last week, but it came too late to make the main draw automatically and she has done well to ride the momentum into the final Qualifying Round. Tamira Paszek is a tough opponent to face, but I hope Konta can get the job done with some places in the main draw looking kind for any Qualifier lucky enough to be drawn into those spots.

The plan for the weekend is to get the outright preview for the US Open out either late on Saturday or early on Sunday, while picks from Day 1 at Flushing Meadows should be live on Sunday evening with the tournament beginning on Monday. A quick look through the draw suggests the favourites could dominate the next two weeks in both men's and women's events, but I will have a closer look through this weekend and will have all my thoughts in the outright preview.

Steve Johnson - 3.5 games v Pierre-Hugues Herbert: Steve Johnson has never made the Final of an ATP event, but he might not have a better chance to do that than this week. The draw at Winston Salem has worked out well for Johnson after he opened it up for himself by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Third Round and a Semi Final against the qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert is one that he should expect to win.

That is no disrespect to Herbert who has battled through three qualifying matches before winning four matches in the main draw, but I do wonder how much is left in the tank. The Frenchman had to dig deep to beat Pablo Carreno Busta in the Quarter Final and his run to the Semi Final is a surprising one as Herbert won three matches as the underdog already this week.

Winning those matches should give him confidence against Johnson who is going to be feeling the nerves trying to get into his first ATP Final. However, Johnson recently played in the Semi Final in Washington and was unfortunate to lose to John Isner so can use that experience to perhaps help him through the difficult moments on Friday.

He has to be one of the more erratic players on the Tour with some great wins, but also some poor losses although I think Johnson holds the edge on the hard courts over Herbert. If Johnson can just hold his nerve, a 76, 63 win could be the result and a chance to play for a title days before his home Grand Slam begins.

Kevin Anderson - 4.5 games v Malek Jaziri: Kevin Anderson has been having a very good 2015 which has seen him reach a career high Ranking of Number 14, but he is hasn't picked up a title since 2012. This might be a very good chance to reach his third Final of the 2015 season and take home a title as he looks the best player left in Winston Salem, but he has to remain focused on the event and not look ahead to the US Open where he is expected to have an impact.

Not many would be tipping Anderson to win the Grand Slam though and that should be in his own mind too which makes the remaining two days in Winston Salem important for him. Anderson has put together three solid wins to reach the Semi Final and he has dismissed the challenge of Malek Jaziri without dropping a set in their two previous matches so confidence should be high.

However, Jaziri has come through three matches in a row as the underdog this week and so won't be without belief in his own chances to win this match. Jaziri is another player who reached a career high World Ranking in 2015, but he has never been able to progress to an ATP Final and those nerves can be difficult to control.

The other issue Jaziri will have is making sure he stays with Anderson under scoreboard pressure as he found himself in difficulties on serve in his Quarter Final win over Thomaz Bellucci. Jaziri overcame those moments, but he took an early lead in that match with a break in his first return game and I don't think Anderson is going to be as generous as the Brazilian was on Thursday.

Anderson won a healthy clip of the points against the Jaziri serve last year when they met in Washington and I think he will find the breaks of serve in this match too. I just feel Jaziri struggles to cope mentally as he is forced to work to hold serve while Anderson is able to roll through games a little easier and it will all result in a 64, 63 win for the South African and a third Final of the season.

Petra Kvitova + 2.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: I was concerned about how Petra Kvitova had been dealing with her mono illness as it had resulted in a couple of losses on the hard courts over the last couple of months. However, Kvitova may have turned a corner with an impressive recovery against Madison Keys and her previous performances at New Haven have clearly inspired her too.

This is a big Semi Final though as she faces Caroline Wozniacki who has also been in a pretty poor form before this week began. There were complaints about being 'forced' to play through injury in Canada and another early exit in Cincinnati, but Wozniacki has put together three solid wins as she looks for some momentum to take into the US Open where she reached the Final last year.

Wozniacki has won the last couple of matches against Petra Kvitova, but the latter was hitting the ball sweetly against Agnieszka Radwanska in her Quarter Final win and can use that power to end that sequence.

The biggest question I have is how much the mono issue is still taking out of Kvitova and whether three matches in quick succession is going to have drained the tank. Kvitova herself has admitted she is still dealing with the illness and she is just trying to fight through difficult moments, but I think the conditions in New Haven suit her and she can keep this competitive even in a losing effort.

To be honest, I think Kvitova can actually win the match outright so taking these games on board looks a good security blanket.

MY PICKS: Steve Johnson - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-4, - 1.02 Units (16 Units Staked, - 6.38% Yield)

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