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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

US Open Day 2 Picks 2015 (September 1st)

In each of the Quarters of the draw for both men's and women's events there are eight Seeds and I had in my outright preview that the Second Quarter of the women's draw is an open one with doubts about Maria Sharapova.

The Russian Number 3 Seed pulled out on Sunday on the eve of the Grand Slam leaving seven Seeds in that section but those Seeds were embarrassed in the First Round on Monday.

Number 7 Ana Ivanovic, Number 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, Number 21 Jelena Jankovic and Number 30 Svetlana Kuznetsova were all knocked out on Monday and the most open portion of the women's draw certainly looks like one that is going to produce a surprise Semi Finalist now.

At the time I am writing this, Karolina Pliskova, the Number 8 Seed, has also been knocked out of the tournament as a somehow top ten player continues to produce nothing at Grand Slam events. That means her Third Round at the US Open remains her best ever performance in a Grand Slam event and that also makes me wonder if she is able to maintain a top ten spot consistently.

The men's draw has avoided the big upsets like the women's draw has, but it has had arguably the biggest upset of the day as Kei Nishikori was beaten by Benoit Paire. That's last year's Finalist Nishikori being beaten in the First Round, although he did have some injury issues coming into Flushing Meadows and now might mean a significant drop in the World Rankings.

That has always been the biggest concern about Nishikori as to whether he can physically maintain his health in what is a long and tough Tour. It's not the first time he has gone into a Grand Slam with some sort of ailment which has prevented him from having a deep run at the Majors and Nishikori might be a player that fails to fulfil his potential to the maximum because of these injuries.

I will provide an update of the US Open Picks record on Tuesday lunchtime with some matches from the picks made on Monday yet to be played. In the meantime you can read my outright picks here.

Day 2 at the US Open will conclude the First Round matches in both draws as every player gets their campaign underway and it should be another strong day of tennis at Flushing Meadows.

Richard Gasquet - 6.5 games v Thanasi Kokkinakis: I am a big fan of the potential that Thanasi Kokkinakis has flashed on the Tour, but I think there are a few mental barriers to overcome at the moment and I don't think he will have enough to keep up the challenge against Richard Gasquet.

This is a tough First Round match for Gasquet, but I am not sure Kokkinakis is feeling too pleased about being dragged into the Nick Kyrgios-Stan Wawrinka controversy. It has put his opponents on edge as we saw when he played Ryan Harrison and the fans will also 'know the name' after that controversial moment.

For a young player, this is not the kind of attention they want at this stage of their career and it has also been a long season for Kokkinakis as he tries to get through the grind that can set in on Tour. All of these aspects will affect the play from a mental standpoint and a player like Gasquet is solid enough to take advantage.

They met in Cincinnati recently where Gasquet had to battle through a difficult first set before pulling away in the second and the feeling is a similar story will develop in Flushing Meadows. Kokkinakis hasn't been getting the most of the return games of late and Gasquet will get enough serves back in play as the match develops to find a way to outmanoeuvre him on the court and earn break point chances.

In a best of five sets match there are lulls in the play, but I think Gasquet battles through his difficult moments by looking after the second serve better than Kokkinakis and prevails 76, 62, 64.

Mikhail Youzhny - 2.5 Games v John-Patrick Smith: Another couple of players that met recently on the North American hard courts are Mikhail Youzhny and John-Patrick Smith who were Qualifier opponents at the Canadian Masters in Montreal. On that occasion it was Youzhny who got off to a fast start and held off Smith in two sets and I think the veteran could have the edge in this one too.

I don't know if Youzhny will come out on the Tour in 2016 as he has seen his wins go from 39 in the 2013 season to less than half that number in 2014 (18) and currently stands at less than half again with 8 going into the US Open. The veteran still plays some good stuff, but he might just have lost half a step with his movement and is beginning to fail the consistency that he had a couple of years ago.

However, he will still believe he is too strong for someone like John-Patrick Smith even if the Australian had a strong run at the Challenger in Vancouver (reached the Final) and has also won three qualifiers to get into the main draw. The wins in Vancouver will give Smith confidence, but he didn't beat too many players that would be favoured to beat Youzhny and his losses to the Russian and Lleyton Hewitt in Washington are troublesome.

It will take some work from Youzhny in a best of five set match to get this done, but I think the veteran uses all of the experience he has accumulated in his career and finds a way into the Second Round after a 63, 36, 63, 64 win.

Kevin Anderson - 5.5 games v Andrey Rublev: A title win in Winston Salem on Saturday just a couple of days before the start of the US Open will have given Kevin Anderson a confidence boost, but physically means there is a fair bit of tennis in the legs. Of course a first title since 2012 has to be celebrated by Anderson, but I do wonder if there is going to be enough left in the tank to challenge for a place in the second week.

Without sounding harsh, Anderson doesn't really have big expectations to win a Grand Slam and so winning the title last week was probably a bigger deal than resting for the US Open. He still has a big serve that can see him conserve more energy than a long week may suggest and Anderson has the chance to play himself into the draw with this First Round draw against Andrey Rublev.

The young Russian looks like another that could be a star of the future and he has had some big results this year as well as the inconsistencies that will come from being a young player on Tour. Rublev has rubbed some opponents up the wrong way which has perhaps caused them to lose their focus, but Anderson doesn't strike me as someone who gets caught up in 'game playing' and will keep doing what he does.

I'd expect Anderson to eventually get the chances on the Rublev serve and he was pretty clinical for the most part last week when the break points presented themselves. If he can continue to do that, I'd see Anderson wear down the younger player and come through with a 75, 63, 64 kind of win.

Thomaz Bellucci - 5.5 games v James Ward: He reached the Third Round at Wimbledon after taking advantage of the withdrawal of David Ferrer and James Ward hit a career high Ranking as he finally broke into the top 100 of the World Rankings. However, things haven't exactly gone from strength to strength for the British player since then.

In fact it has all been a sharp downwards curve for Ward who has lost 8 Singles matches in a row including the Third Round loss at Wimbledon. Some of the losses are understandable to the likes of Gilles Simon and Alexandr Dolgopolov, but defeats to Michael Berrer, Yasutaka Uchiyama and Ze Zhang tells me that Ward's entry to the top 100 might be a one and done for him in his career.

Ward's serve is a vulnerable one, while his forehand is erratic at best. The backhand is a respectable shot, but lefty Thomaz Bellucci is going to give that side a real working over and I expect the Brazilian to be too strong in this First Round match.

It is fair to say that Bellucci's best results have been on the clay courts, but he is a capable player on the faster surfaces, although he will have to serve well just to build some momentum and confidence. He has some solid wins this last six weeks but Bellucci can sometimes lose focus which makes this number a difficulty to cover.

However, Ward has to be very short of confidence with 8 losses in a row behind him and the fight and belief might not be at the level expected. After a tight opening set, Bellucci may begin to take control and wear down Ward in a 76, 63, 63 win.

Lleyton Hewitt - 4.5 games v Aleksandr Nedovyesov: I am not allowing nostalgia to decide my picks for me having backed Mardy Fish to win his First Round match yesterday and picking Mikhail Youzhny and now Lleyton Hewitt to follow him through to the Second Round.

This is the final US Open for Hewitt who will have great memories of past performances here and I think he has a draw he can take advantage of. The Australian beat Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the final rubber of the Davis Cup tie between Australia and Kazakhstan in July, although Nedovyesov had had to play on all three days of that tie.

That is going to give the mental edge to Hewitt anyway, but the bigger factor may be that Nedovyesov hasn't played any hard court tennis since that Davis Cup tie either. In fact, Nedovyesov hasn't played on the hard courts since taking part in some Challenger events earlier in the year and I am not sure how much comfort he feels on this surface.

Nedovyesov did reach the Second Round here last season, but Hewitt has the fans behind him on his farewell Tour and can use that to his advantage. He hasn't been playing too much hard court tennis himself over the last six weeks, but will have been playing in North America to get used to the conditions expected rather than European Challenger clay courts and I expect that to show up on the scoreboard at the end of the match.

After a tight couple of sets that perhaps goes each way, I like Hewitt to come through 64, 57, 63, 64.

Gilles Muller - 5.5 games v Ruben Bemelmans: It is not often that you want to back a player like Gilles Muller to cover what is a relatively high number because of his return game. While I expect Muller to always produce decent serving numbers, his returning game can be hit or miss, although I have been tempted in by decent form over the last couple of months.

2015 has been a good season for Muller and a strong end could see him perhaps get into a position to be Seeded when the Australian Open rolls around in January. After being very successful on the Challenger Tour in 2014, Muller has bridged the gap to the main draw with some solid results through the season and he should remain too good for Ruben Bemelmans.

The Belgian continues to play the majority of his tennis on the Challenger circuit, but he hasn't been winning as many matches as he might have liked of late. He did earn a main draw place at the US Open so has to be respected, but Bemelmans is someone who can lose his focus and allow Muller to get in front where he will be hard to be pulled back from.

Both are left handers so the angles shouldn't be able to surprise the other and I think that also gives Muller an edge as Bemelmans might have been expecting to surprise an opponent. If Muller can take what should be a tight first set, I expect he takes control of the match and moves through 76, 63, 64.

Ryan Harrison v Rajeev Ram: There isn't a lot I am going to say about this match between two American players who don't have big expectations but to try and build some Ranking points in their home Grand Slam.

Rajeev Ram did win a title in Newport on the grass in July and he has been the slightly more productive player in terms of results over the last few weeks on the North American hard courts. However, I like Ryan Harrison's game a little more all around than Ram's and I believe he can make enough balls back in play to prevail in the longer rallies that develop.

Both do look for the big shot early in the rally and I do think there will be plenty of unforced errors on both sides of the court, but the bigger upside comes from Ryan Harrison in my opinion. I actually thought Harrison would be closer to 1.40 to win this match, so I was surprised by the actual price being offered.

This could potentially be a five setter but I will back Ryan Harrison to move through.

Stan Wawrinka - 7.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: This is a big number and not always one that Stan Wawrinka has a lot of success in surpassing, but I think he can do enough to do that against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The Spaniard is a clay court specialist who has had no intention of playing on the hard courts this summer, but Ramos-Vinolas is a lefty which makes him an awkward customer. Of course the natural shot for him is to go into the right handed backhand, but that doesn't end well for too many people when playing Stan Wawrinka.

It will come down to whether Ramos-Vinolas makes full use out of the lefty serve- the first delivery is strong, but the second is much more attackable and Wawrinka should have success against it. You have to think Wawrinka is in a better place after the controversy of Montreal which is now three weeks ago and he did have a couple of tough wins in Cincinnati to build some confidence.

Wawrinka has dominated the head to head against Ramos-Vinolas, but the matches have been competitive which is a concern for this number. However, the lack of motivation for Ramos-Vinolas on the hard courts might show up if he falls behind early on and Wawrinka can have his most straight-forward win over the Spaniard as he cruises through 63, 64, 63.

Andy Murray - 6.5 games v Nick Kyrgios: The British media have described this as a really dangerous First Round draw for Andy Murray, but he has gotten the better of Nick Kyrgios comfortably in the past and I am not sure the Australian receives too much support on a big Arthur Ashe Court after recent controversies.

Outwardly it might not bother Kyrgios that much, but he has lost two matches in a row fairly easily since his comments to Stan Wawrinka in Montreal and I still believe he is dealing with some sort of elbow issue which affects the serve. Murray has broken down the Kyrgios game having won all eight sets competed and six of those sets has seen the Australian win three games or fewer.

Murray is a very effective returner when it comes to nullifying big serves and making sure they get back in play and I think he will do the same to Kyrgios and force mental mistakes from his opponent. The controversial youngster is never far away from throwing in a shocker on serve and I think Murray will break him down mentally and physically in this First Round match.

Kyrgios does love the big occasion, but I think this season is taking a toll on him mentally and Murray will prevail in the night session match with a 64, 63, 64 win.

Petra Kvitova - 6.5 games v Laura Siegemund: Petra Kvitova has dominated in New Haven in recent seasons and won her third title in four years at that event prior to the US Open. Unfortunately for Kvitova, she has failed to build on that momentum at the final Grand Slam of the season despite having a game that clearly transfers onto the hard courts.

Her First Round match looks like one that should suit Kvitova who played the Final in New Haven on Saturday and has had a couple of days to build up the energy reserves ahead of her first match here.

Any player that comes through three qualifiers has to be respected, but Laura Siegemund has played the majority of her matches off the hard courts and this is a sharp increase in level of competition to what she has faced. The evening conditions may slow down the ball a bit which might only aid Kvitova to get set to unleash her powerful groundstrokes and it is hard to look beyond the World Number 5 winning this match with something to spare.

Kvitova has to serve well, but she was doing that in New Haven for the most part and I think she is going to make a very good start and record a 62, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Richard Gasquet - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Mikhail Youzhny - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Thomaz Bellucci - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lleyton Hewitt - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Ryan Harrison @ 1.80 Betway (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 7.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Andy Murray - 6.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

US Open Update: 7-2, + 9.27 Units (17 Units Staked, + 54.53% Yield)


  1. Greg stauff as usak dav. Great first day , good luck this tourney

  2. sorry. great stuff as usual dav is what I meant. My typing is not good when I type fast.lol

  3. Thanks Greg, appreciate it... Been a good start, hopefully can build on that and not give it back to them! Good Luck!