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Thursday, 3 September 2015

US Open Day 4 Picks 2015 (September 3rd)

There are days when you are left to shake your head and wonder what else can go wrong... Day 3 at the US Open was such a day for me!

I cannot understand the amount of bad luck I have had to take over the last couple of months, but Wednesday just seemed to underline the point.

Players blowing breaks like it was going out of fashion when I've backed them; players failing to convert millions of chances but giving up breaks of serve without too much effort; mishits going into the court leading to breaks; and favourites just not getting the job done in the manner expected.

Both David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov essentially served like trash to give up any chance of covering their numbers; David Goffin and Benoit Paire missed covers by one game which can be accounted for in the cheap breaks of serve and missed break point chances they had; Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams put in sub-par efforts against players they should have wiped out and I can honestly say the only pick I 'regretted' was the one on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to cover.

That makes it much harder for me to fathom what a downright ugly day it was and it actually pisses me off when it happens like that because it is the small bits of fortune that would make the big difference.

I simply didn't get any of those at the big moments and it has ruined a very good start to the tournament much as it wiped out the season success over the last six weeks.

If it wasn't for a couple of late night winners, this would have been an epic of bad days in the office as players failed to 'do their job' and win their matches from the positions they were in.


Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 games v Yoshihito Nishioka: The First Round wins for both Thomaz Bellucci and Yoshihito Nishioka came in impressive fashion and the latter has also had three qualifying wins to get into the main draw.

That should mean Nishioka is ready to try and win his second ever match at Grand Slam level having taken advantage of the fitness problems Paul-Henri Mathieu was dealing with. The youngster from Japan has a nice, solid game, but he is perhaps lacking with the power to compete with those players who spend their time on the main Tour and that might prove to be the difference in this Second Round match.

Nishioka is a lefty, but this is the first time he will be facing another southpaw in a competitive match where as Bellucci has experience, and a winning record, in this situation. That can also help the Brazilian, who is at Number 30 in the World Rankings, achieve his best run at a Grand Slam this season and get closer to his career high of Number 21 in the World Rankings.

He has been unfortunate with the draws in Grand Slams previously having faced a top ten opponent in the First Round twice and another in the Second Round so Bellucci has won the one match he was expected to and made that two from two in the First Round against James Ward. Bellucci will have to be careful against a confident opponent who has been winning plenty more matches than Ward of late, but he can use his experience and power to help him through.

It will be tight at times and both players will have chances to break serve, but I think that additional power possessed by Bellucci sees him find a 75, 46, 63, 64 win.


Stan Wawrinka - 6.5 games v Hyeon Chung: There are some big things expected of youngster Hyeon Chung who is perhaps not given the same limelight as others of his generation despite hitting a career high Number 69 in the World Rankings. Chung is going to have another improvement in that number having beaten James Duckworth in the last Round, but now faces a huge step up in quality when he faces Stan Wawrinka.

The Swiss two time Grand Slam Champion made hard work of his First Round win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas with some sloppy service games giving his opponent some confidence. Stan Wawrinka had a tough match against Borna Coric in Cincinnati so he knows some of these young players have plenty of talent to cause problems, although Chung hasn't had a lot of Grand Slam experience.

Chung won through in straight sets on Tuesday, but it is still a physical test playing best of five set matches and against someone of the quality of Stan Wawrinka. I expect Chung will show off his talent in this Second Round match, but he might just have the lapses in concentration to give Wawrinka the edge in the match.

It can be tough for the younger players to deal with the mental and physical aspect of the best of five set matches and Wawrinka should find his way to a 75, 63, 64 win.


Dominic Thiem - 3.5 games v Denis Istomin: First thing you have to do is forget about the Number 70 World Ranking that Denis Istomin has because this is a player that can play much better than that number would suggest. He can't be underestimated by anyone when he brings his best to the court, but I think Dominic Thiem can be a little too good over four sets for him on Thursday.

It has been a difficult season for Thiem on the hard courts and he didn't have too much success over the last month after a very strong European clay court summer. Two First Round losses at the Canadian and Cincinnati Masters was disappointing, but Thiem enjoyed New York City last year when he reached the Fourth Round here and I think the young Austrian likes the conditions here.

He will need to bring some of his best tennis to the court against Istomin who has had some up and down results over the last six weeks but who had a come from behind win in the First Round. Istomin has one of his better records at the US Open out of the four Grand Slam events and he can play really hot and run through games quickly on the North American hard courts.

I have every inclination that this goes four sets, but Thiem is capable of playing the big moments just a little better on his way through with a 63, 36, 63, 64 win.


John Isner - 4.5 games v Mikhail Youzhny: John Isner has never beaten Mikhail Youzhny from two previous matches and he was beaten in four sets by the Russian at the US Open in 2010.

However, the tables might have turned since then when Youzhny went in as a slight favourite as the veteran has perhaps lost a little spark in the movement on the ground. Isner is not a great returner, but he is capable of having a nice swing on the ball if he sees plenty of second serves and Youzhny hasn't been protecting his serve that well through the season.


That has made it difficult for Youzhny to put together a series of wins and it also made life tougher in the First Round when he had to fight back from a break down in the third and fourth set against John-Patrick Smith. It won't be easy to recover a break of serve against John Isner if Youzhny gets behind and the American did enough to find breaks of serve in his First Round win over Malek Jaziri.

Isner has shown decent form ahead of the US Open with a title in Atlanta, a Final appearance in Washington and a Quarter Final in Montreal. Going out early in Cincinnati might be a bonus with Isner having two weeks to prepare for the US Open and I can see him finding a couple of breaks in this one on his way to a comprehensive 76, 64, 64 kind of win.


Andy Murray - 9.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: This is a very big number on first glance, but I think Andy Murray has all the tools to break down the Adrian Mannarino game and come through this match fairly comfortably. After a tough first Round match, Murray will be looking to conserve some energy and get through this match as soon as possible, but he has to be careful in 'pushing' too hard against a dangerous lefty.

The problem that Mannarino will have is dealing with the extra power that Murray can generate off the ground, while his own serve is not a big weapon against a returner as good as Murray. It is a different test than the one he faced against Nick Kyrgios in the First Round, a player with raw power and a flair for the unpredictability, but Murray might appreciate a match like this a lot more.

When they met at Indian Wells, Murray almost won 50% of the points against the Mannarino serve and I think he can physically wear down the Frenchman. There will be some moments where Mannarino uses all the skills he possesses to produce some special tennis and get through games, but it will be hard to keep that up for long enough to threaten Murray.

The Number 3 Seed here has to keep his focus and not be dragged into that kind of match though and make sure the match is played on his own terms. Murray will have the break points to win by a wide margin and it is all about taking those chances, but he will have the opportunity to put together a 61, 64, 63 win.


Roger Federer - 9.5 games v Steve Darcis: The Belgian Steve Darcis will be best remembered for beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but this would arguably be the biggest win of his career if he can beat Roger Federer in the form he is in.

It doesn't look very likely if Federer's First Round win is anything to go by when he dismantled the Leonardo Mayer game and Steve Darcis doesn't have as many weapons as the Argentine. Darcis did come from a set down and was on the way to beating Marcos Baghdatis in the First Round before the latter retired so there is character in the Belgian's game, but facing Roger Federer in the form he is in is a huge test.

This is a big number of games, but Roger Federer has been serving well and his return has been very effective in recent matches and he showed how quickly he can get on top of opponents at Wimbledon. Federer knows the importance of keeping enough in the tank for the second week of the tournament and he will be proactive in looking to break down the Darcis game and I expect him to do that with a few breaks of serve.

Federer has been serving well since the beginning of Cincinnati and that can lead to a 61, 63, 63 win for him.


Johanna Konta + 4.5 games v Garbine Muguruza: Since reaching the Semi Final in Eastbourne, Johanna Konta has finally began to make use of her full potential on the Tour and seen her soar up the World Rankings. Getting onto the North American hard courts has been a blessing for Konta who has won 15 matches in a row on these surfaces since a First Round loss at Wimbledon.

That means Konta has won two titles on the Tour below the main WTA level, but has also won three qualifiers and a First Round match in the main draw at the US Open. It is an impressive run from the British player who has always had the talent, but perhaps struggled to put it all together on the Tour.

Now she is close to getting into a position where she will have a high enough Ranking to get into main Tour draws and also automatically into the first Grand Slam of the season at the Australian Open. Konta will have to keep her run of success going beyond the US Open, but won't believe her time here is coming to an end on Thursday with a match against Garbine Muguruza to come.

Muguruza finally made the breakthrough expected of her when she reached the Wimbledon Final, although that was the last Grand Slam people would have expected her to do that in. We have seen other players struggle under the new weight of expectation and that might have been the reason Muguruza has lost both matches since the Wimbledon Final before winning in the First Round here.

The Spaniard won't intimidate Konta having won her first match at the US Open in three attempts and also having lost to the British player in Eastbourne prior to her exceptional run at Wimbledon. That match was a tight one and this has the hallmarks of a tight match too with Konta more than capable of springing the upset as she is in better form and Muguruza recently split with her coach. The fact Muguruza will know what to expect may aid her in this one and she does have a big, powerful game, but Konta can take a set and keep this close throughout if not being able to complete the upset.


Sam Stosur - 5.5 games v Evgeniya Rodina: Sam Stosur might not be the same player she was when winning the US Open in 2011, but she is clearly comfortable in the conditions here and can see off Evgeniya Rodina in the Second Round.

It has been a difficult summer since Sam Stosur took home the title in Bad Gastein and then reached the Semi Final in Washington. Two First Round exits in the Premier Events in Canada and Cincinnati knocked confidence, but Stosur earned revenge for the second defeat by beating the same Timea Babos in the First Round here.

Since a run to the Quarter Final in 2012 while defending the US Open title, Stosur has failed to get beyond the Second Round so that could be a big challenge mentally. However, she is playing an opponent who took advantage of a kind draw after taking some heavy hard court losses in preparation for this event.

Evgeniya Rodina has sometimes struggled with her return on the hard courts and Stosur was serving very effectively in the First Round. That can build scoreboard pressure and it might be difficult for Rodina to get a foothold in the match which will give Stosur a chance to take control if she is clinical when the break points come her way. The Australian can be a little flaky with her own return game, but Rodina will help with unforced errors and this should produce a 63, 63 kind of win for Stosur.


Angelique Kerber - 5.5 games v Karin Knapp: Karin Knapp is a hard player to get a read on when it comes to performances because of a high risk approach she takes to her matches. There is a lot of power in the Italian's game, but she is not always the best when it comes to shot selection and that has caused her trouble in the past.

Her ups and downs are shown by the fact she went 2-2 in the Premier Events in Toronto and Cincinnati, but Knapp was handed a bagel in three of the four sets she lost to Serena Williams and Roberta Vinci. Wins over Ana Konjuh and Daria Gavrilova are solid results at the same time with those two defeats sandwiching her two wins, and Knapp showed tremendous focus to come from a set down to dominate her First Round match.

Angelique Kerber has shown more consistency having won the title in Stanford and the latter part of 2015 has been much better than how it started. The German has won her most Grand Slam matches at the US Open where she has been a Semi Finalist in the past and she was also a very comfortable winner in the First Round.

Her defence is what makes Kerber such a dangerous opponent, but she also has enough in her game to turn a point around and begin to dictate behind a heavy lefty forehand. The serve can be a bit of a concern at times, but she can nullify much of what Knapp would like to do and then wear down her opponent.

Kerber has put together some really impressive wins and I think she will be just a little too much for Knapp who will be forced to hit closer to the lines and will likely break down doing that. After some success early, Knapp may eventually find herself going down 64, 62.


Petra Kvitova - 6.5 games v Nicole Gibbs: The US Open has not been a successful Grand Slam for Petra Kvitova in the past, but this looks a good chance to get into the Third Round against Nicole Gibbs on current form. Petra Kvitova won the title in New Haven impressively and dropped just two games in the First Round so the momentum looks to be behind her for this Second Round match.

That isn't paying Nicole Gibbs any disrespect because she might have done a fair bit of losing in 2015, but is rarely blown off the court. The American will receive plenty of support from the locals and she can cause problems with her ability to defend around the court, especially if Kvitova is in one of her days where the unforced errors spill from her racquet at a remarkable rate.

Kvitova didn't have that kind of day in the First Round as she won comfortably and I expect her to have some joy against the Gibbs second serve which is a weakness. Even the first serve is not the most intimidating of weapons on the WTA Tour and Kvitova should have a very good chance of dominating much of the rallies through this match.

The key for Kvitova is to limit the mistakes she makes without losing the aggression that makes her so effective and doing that will give her a great chance to come away with a routine 62, 63 kind of win. Kvitova has covered this number against better players than Nicole Gibbs in 4 of her last 5 wins from the beginning of New Haven and can do that again on Thursday.

MY PICKS: Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
John Isner - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andu Murray - 9.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 9.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Johanna Konta + 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

US Open Update: 13-15, - 5.99 Units (55 Units Staked, - 10.89% Yield)

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