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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

US Open Day 10 Picks 2015 (September 9th)

The Semi Final line up is going to be set on Wednesday as we get down to the last few days at the US Open.

I have been writing this before the last two Quarter Finals on Tuesday are played, but if the first two Quarter Finals are anything to go by, the last few days at the US Open are going to be filled with drama.

There is still a lot of inconsistent play out there as players create break point chances and fail to take them and it really has been a Grand Slam full of some strange results and performances. Players aren't just going up and down from Round to Round, but they aren't able to maintain any kind of level within matches, unless you are talking about the three or four players that most expected to reach the Final.

Kristina Mladenovic was feeling the pressure of the heat and first time Quarter Finalist, but she has to be kicking herself about how she played when the break points came her way against Roberta Vinci. While I give the Italian credit, the match was on the racquet of Mladenovic and some of her shot selections were very poor.

The first time Quarter Finalist at this level was always going to have to prepare mentally for the occasion, but Vinci had bad memories of losing twice in this Round convincingly and Mladenovic failed to push the pressure onto her by taking the chances that came her way.

The US Open reigning Men's Champion is still in the draw as Marin Cilic tried his best to give the match away to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after being pulled back from two sets down despite having three match points. The wasted energy in having to spend almost two hours more on court than necessary might come back to haunt him when it comes to the Semi Finals, although the one benefit for Cilic is that those Semi Finals are not until Friday and he does have ample recovery time.

Stan Wawrinka-Kevin Anderson Over 42.5 Total Games: Anyone who saw the Kevin Anderson win over Andy Murray had to be impressed with the skills the big South African showed throughout the four sets.

Everyone knows Anderson has a monster serve, but he was winning so many of the extended rallies and showing exceptional touch at the net where he surprised Andy Murray and most spectators. The backhand didn't break down as expected and Anderson was well worthy of his place in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

Now he has to beat another two time Grand Slam Champion when he faces Stan Wawrinka, and I don't imagine this is a match up that holds too many fears for Anderson. That will be because Anderson has won the last four matches against Wawrinka and has managed to win the big points at the key times to do that.

It took two tie-breakers at Queens, but Anderson got it done and he also won very tight matches in Cincinnati and Paris Masters last year. I can see why he is a problem for Wawrinka as the latter isn't the best returner out there and Anderson can dictate things behind serve, while also taking his shots at the huge number of second serves he generally gets to see.

In the last four matches against one another, all Anderson wins, Wawrinka has only surpassed 52% of first serves going in once and that allows Anderson to have a real look at breaking. He hasn't really been able to do that too many times in his wins over Wawrinka, but even in the tie-breaker it is these small points that decide matches and has been a key for Kevin Anderson.

Anderson has won five of the last six tie-breakers these two have played against one another which seems to back up the fact he can take a big swing on the second serve ball which helps him breakthrough the Wawrinka defences.

This does look like it will be another tight match and anyone backing Wawrinka has to be aware of that head to head against Anderson and the tight matches he has lost. However, Anderson has to mentally pick himself up from arguably the biggest win of his career to date and so picking a winner in the match is a little difficult.

However, a tight match looks to be on the cards and I think this match could easily surpass this number of games with the expectation it will go at least four sets and deep sets at that. Since the beginning of 2014, Anderson and Wawrinka have met four times in best of three set matches and the total games have been 30, 25, 38 and 26 games and only two of those matches have gone the distance.

If this goes four sets, it would be a surprise if this number of games isn't surpassed and I would certainly not expect either player to win this in straights.

Roger Federer - 7.5 Games v Richard Gasquet: Richard Gasquet is back in the Quarter Finals at the US Open for the second time in three years and he will be looking to match his run to the Semi Final at Wimbledon by winning this match.

That will be far from easy against Roger Federer who has been in imperious form since returning at Cincinnati and clearly has been irritated by Gasquet's second ever win over him.

Gasquet beat Roger Federer in three sets at the Rome Masters in 2011, but it has been back to normality since then with six straight defeats to him. The nature of those set scores suggests Federer has meant business against Gasquet though as Federer has won all eleven sets played in those six wins and the Frenchman has only got to four games three times.

The slower conditions on Ashe should see Federer dictate the points in this Quarter Final for the most part and I think it is going to be tough for Gasquet to stop the World Number 2 running away with this match. Federer has been serving well, but his return has been on point as shown by the number of break points he created against John Isner.

It has been an impressive week from Gasquet too, but the level rises considerably for him in this Quarter Final and it is hard to see what kind of impact he can have on the Federer game. If Gasquet serves exceptionally well it will be difficult for Federer to get over this number of games, but I expect the Number 2 Seed to have the chances to do that.

Federer has dominated Gasquet in recent matches and this has the hallmarks of a 63, 63, 64 kind of win for the 17 time Grand Slam Champion.

Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 games v Simona Halep: It is going to take some kind of special recovery from Simona Halep to really compete in this match effectively after almost limping through a win over Sabine Lisicki. Where the German is extremely generous when it comes to unforced errors and handing over games like Christmas presents, Victoria Azarenka will be clinical and consistent.

The only issue for Azarenka fans has been the up and down nature of her performances within matches and she can encourage opponents back into matches she is seemingly in control of. That was partly the reason the likes of Angelique Kerber, Varvara Lepchenko and Yanina Wickmayer have pushed Azarenka so hard in the tournament, but you have to think the focus will be much better against the World Number 2.

It will have to be better because Halep is a dangerous customer that is capable of making a quick recovery from injuries that look to be ending her time in a tournament. That was proved in Cincinnati having barely got through against the likes of Andrea Petkovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before crushing Jelena Jankovic the next day and pushing Serena Williams in the Final.

Halep works hard and is capable of wearing down lesser players, but any lingering issue will be exposed by Azarenka who has the consistency to keep her moving around the court. The left thigh issue will take something away from the Halep serve too and Azarenka has the capability of punishing her more than the likes of Lisicki can think about.

Something of a surprise to me is that Azarenka hasn't reached a Grand Slam Semi Final since competing in the Final here in 2013, a run of seven Slams, but I expect that to change after a 75, 63 win in this Quarter Final.

Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games v Flavia Pennetta: This is surprisingly the first time that Petra Kvitova has reached the Quarter Final at the US Open and she has backed up her win in New Haven in the best possible way. In fact this is the furthest Kvitova has gone in any Grand Slam event since winning the Wimbledon title for a second time in 2014 and she is certainly a dangerous opponent know she is here.

Any fears about the mono illness look to be behind Kvitova and she has been on the right side of the winner/unforced error ratio in her last two matches which will give her confidence. Kvitova opens proceedings on Arthur Ashe Court on Wednesday and the biggest factor in the match might actually be handling the conditions rather than Flavia Pennetta who made it clear after her win over Sam Stosur that she would rather face Johanna Konta than Kvitova.

To be fair to the Italian, that is hardly something to criticise her for as that makes sense, but Pennetta has lost three matches in a row against Kvitova and will have to serve very well to remain competitive in this one. Pennetta is sure to be aided by some wayward errors that have been a feature of Kvitova's high risk tennis approach, but the World Number 4 has been serving well all week and that is keeping the pressure on her opponents.

If Kvitova is serving well, Pennetta is going to feel the pressure to hold her own serve, which is an effective shot, and I just think the slower conditions will give Kvitova time to tee off on the return. An in-form Kvitova makes a lot of balls back with plenty of pace and power behind them and Pennetta will have a tough time getting those back effectively which should give the Czech player the chance to dictate rallies.

I am not sure how many extended rallies there will be with the way Kvitova plays and it might be tough for Pennetta to just stay with her. I like the way the Italian plays, but the power difference between her and Kvitova should see the latter eventually crack through the defences and record a 63, 64 win while booking her first ever US Open Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka-Kevin Anderson Over 42.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

US Open Update: 34-31, + 1.45 Units (129 Units Staked, + 1.12% Yield)

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