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Saturday, 5 September 2015

US Open Day 6 Picks 2015 (September 5th)

The final Third Round matches on Friday are still being played as I write this post for the US Open Day 6 Picks, but it has been a good day for the picks as they recover to get back into a positive position after the terrible events of Wednesday.

It would have been an almost perfect day if Marin Cilic had held onto his break advantage of the fourth set or won that tie-breaker to move through in four sets as predicted rather than getting through in five sets, but I can't complain too much.

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic remain the favourites to win the women's and men's events respectively and both moved onto the Fourth Round on Friday. It was another day of difficulties for Serena Williams who dropped the first set against Bethanie Mattek-Sands before roaring back to win in three, but Novak Djokovic has been very comfortable so far in the tournament and is looking strong.

He is also in the weaker half of the draw with his three biggest rivals in the bottom half, although Djokovic won't take anything for granted having been beaten by Kei Nishikori in the Semi Final here last year. His record in Flushing Meadows is consistent, but Djokovic hasn't turned too many of his visits to New York City into title winning ones, although I think he has to be loving the conditions at the moment with the wind a non-factor.

By the time the poorer weather arrives, Novak Djokovic will likely be playing every match on Ashe and the new roof being built has taken away some of the swirling wind that has been a feature of the US Open even on warm days. Those swirling conditions have certainly been a factor as to why Djokovic has perhaps not been able to get the job done in New York, but without that he is the big favourite to reach the Final when he should be the freshest player out there on current form.

Richard Gasquet - 5.5 games v Bernard Tomic: Bernard Tomic had to dig very deep to hold off the Lleyton Hewitt charge in the Second Round and he'll be hoping he has had enough time to recover for this match. Previous matches against Richard Gasquet have been difficult for Tomic anyway so he will know he needs to have recovered physically if he is going to earn a place in the Fourth Round.

There is a day rest between matches in a Grand Slam, but I am not sure Tomic will be fully ready for such match as this which has been placed as the first one of the day. It isn't a great match up for him either as Gasquet has proven in the past by winning five of the six matches between them and I can understand why that might be the case.

Gasquet is a fairly solid player that seems to thrive in situations where is expected to win and doesn't 'choke' in these matches as much as he can do when in winning positions against top ten opponents. He has a decent serve and is solid off both wings on the ground and that can wear on Tomic as the rallies get longer, especially if you're not winning the majority of those points.

After the tough match both physically and mentally against Hewitt, Tomic may just struggle to keep Gasquet from getting on top and dictating proceedings. The Australian does have a big first serve that can see him ease through some games, but he is unlikely to get a high enough percentage of first serves in to keep his nose in front and I think Gasquet eventually wears down Tomic 76, 64, 62.

Tomas Berdych - 6.5 games v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: As he has done for much of the 2015 season, Tomas Berdych is quietly and comfortably making his way through another draw and he should be too good for Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in this Third Round match.

Previous matches between them have been competitive and close affairs and it might surprise a few people out there that Garcia-Lopez actually leads the head to head by three wins to two. However they have only met once in the last four years and Garcia-Lopez has been given a kind draw to reach the Third Round after overcoming injury issues in the build up to the US Open.

Prior to the US Open, Garcia-Lopez had to retire from one match and lost the other following Wimbledon, but wins over Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Mahut won't prepare him for the increase in level that Berdych should supply.

Berdych has done just enough to get through his first two matches here, but I think he will be aware that he needs to raise his level now as we close to the second week of the tournament. He should have the stronger hard court game which should come to the fore and after some tough moments I expect Berdych to win this one 64, 63, 64.

Roger Federer - 7.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: Roger Federer might have beaten Philipp Kohlschreiber in all nine previous matches, but there have been some very competitive matches in that time. Earlier this season Federer knocked off the German in Halle with a 76, 36, 76 win, but his confidence wasn't close to the level he has been showing in Cincinnati and the start of the US Open.

These two are not familiar with one another as competitors on the court, but they seem to have a good relationship off it and have been known to train with one another. That means there will no secrets in this match and it will come down to which of the two players is able to execute the best.

Obviously with the way Federer played against Leonardo Mayer and Steve Darcis it is going to be very difficult to knock him off his stride. Federer looks desperate to add to his 17 Grand Slam titles, and his performances are of a player that believes he can achieve that goal with Wimbledon and the tournament here his best chances.

The lack of wind coming down to Arthur Ashe has helped Federer too and it is going to take a big serving effort from Kohlschreiber to keep him competitive. Kohlschreiber has played well in his first two matches here, but his performances on the hard courts have been poor in 2015 and it was a slow start that put him behind the black ball against Novak Djokovic at this tournament last year.

The German can't afford another slow start as Federer could quickly run away with the first set and the way the latter has been playing means another routine victory might come his way. Their only previous Grand Slam meeting saw Kohlschreiber beaten comfortably but this one could be a little tighter, although I still favour to cover this number with a 64, 62, 64 kind of win.

John Isner - 4.5 games v Jiri Vesely: He might not be known for his ability to break serve, but John Isner has won all six sets he has competed in the US Open and all without competing a single tie-breaker. This could be important for Isner as he has usually begun to feel the physical exertion of long matches at this relatively early stage of a Grand Slam, but that won't be the case in the Third Round and he has every chance of securing another straight-forward win.

Jiri Vesely won't be overly intimidated by what he is going to face on Saturday as he came back from 2-1 down in sets to beat Ivo Karlovic, another monster of a man with a monster serve.

That will give Vesely confidence he can get into the Isner service games, although I do think the American is much better from the baseline than Karlovic and has added the wrinkle of getting to the net and playing volleys. He is also a better returner than Karlovic so Isner will be interested to note that the Croatian beat Jiri Vesely 63, 63 in the middle of the Second Round as he took three breaks of serve.

If Karlovic can do that, Isner will certainly feel he can create chances to do the same and Vesely doesn't protect the serve as well as someone who is 6 foot 5 should. This match should see tie-breakers for the first time for Isner, but I also think he has been returning well enough to break the Czech's service games and lead to a 76, 63, 76 kind of win behind the serving we have come to expect from Isner.

Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games v Dominic Thiem: I haven't hidden my admiration for Dominic Thiem in the past and I do think he is going to have a really big impact on the Tour next season after a confidence boosting 2015. However, his run at the US Open might come a Round short of matching 2014 when he meets Kevin Anderson in what looks an interesting Third Round match.

After winning the tournament in Winston Salem, Anderson has come into the US Open with some real confidence behind him and he hasn't really been pushed in his first two wins. The same can be said for Thiem so both should be physically ready to go and it should be a competitive match for the viewers out on Court 17.

There are a couple of factors that might see the edge being given to Kevin Anderson in this one- the first of those is that he has been the more effective hard court player of the two with his first serve being a particularly tough weapon for opponents to deal with.

The second is that he has won both previous matches against Thiem including a straight sets win over the youngster at the Australian Open in 2014. While Thiem has improved and will give Anderson more to think about with his eighteen months development since then, I still think he comes up a little short on this surface against the big South African.

Anderson will likely drop a set to Thiem for the first time, but I see him coming through 63, 36, 63, 64.

Andrea Petkovic - 2.5 games v Johanna Konta: I am really happy for Johanna Konta that she has put together such a run over the last couple of months with plenty of wins that has improved her Ranking. Her win over Garbine Muguruza in the Second Round has also given her additional national coverage and Konta had to be given credit in her battling display.

However, I do have to wonder how long it will be before all the tennis she has had to play lately wears her down. There were moments in the win over Muguruza where she did look to be gasping for air, but that might have had more to do with the horrendous heat rather than any long-term physical issue.

Even saying that though, Konta has to be feeling it and someone like Andrea Petkovic is capable of making matches go long and looking to wear down opponents. That might be the plan for the German to weather any early storm as she gets used to what Konta is producing on the court, and Petkovic has played well enough of late to have the belief that she will eventually get the better of Konta.

Only the likes of Simona Halep and Serena Williams ended her runs in Cincinnati and Toronto so the form is there for Petkovic and I think she ends Konta's impressive run in a 36, 63, 63 win.

Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 games v Angelique Kerber: When the draw was made for the US Open, I figured this would be the toughest match Victoria Azarenka would have to play before the potentially huge Quarter Final against Simona Halep. Angelique Kerber has shown strong form this summer and won the title in Stanford, but she has to mentally overcome losing all four previous matches against Azarenka including a match earlier this season when she won three games.

That did come at a time of the season when Kerber had been struggling badly with her game and her confidence is in a much better place. However, matches between these two have generally been won by Azarenka pretty easily so Kerber has to change something up to give herself a chance.

Her defensive skills are very effective against most players on the Tour, but Azarenka is comfortable dictating rallies and will be happy to try and wear down Kerber by moving her around the court. Azarenka hasn't returned to the kind of consistency that took her to the top of the women's game since returning from injury though and that has seen some very good wins mixed with head-scratching defeats for much of the season.

This one won't be a 'head-scratching' loss though and I expect it brings the best out of Azarenka. After some long and brutal rallies that wears down both players, I expect Azarenka to be moving through behind a 75, 46, 62 win.

Varvara Lepchenko - 2.5 games v Mona Barthel: I didn't expect to see Varvara Lepchenko in the Third Round of the US Open with two tough matches to negotiate, but now she is here I feel she is being a touch under-rated to beat Mona Barthel and cover a small handicap.

The American will receive the home support and battered Barthel here last year and franked that win almost twelve months later when beating her in Cincinnati last month. In both matches Lepchenko took control after tight first sets and she has been able to get away from Barthel and there is nothing in the form to think this won't go the same way.

Her win over Lesia Tsurenko looks very impressive considering the form Tsurenko has been showing and I think Barthel has made use of a very nice draw. There have been some good wins on the hard courts in the build up to the US Open, so Barthel can't be written off in getting the upset in the Third Round, but Lepchenko is playing her best tennis of the season and enjoys the match up.

It could be another 75 kind of opening set for Lepchenko who is then able to get away and win this one 62 in the second set.

Sabine Lisicki - 3.5 games v Barbora Strycova: This will be the third time in 2015 that Sabine Lisicki and Barbora Strycova are meeting on the Tour and it is one win apiece. Both matches have been tight ones decided by a point or two and both have been decided in straight sets.

It was Strycova who won the first match in Doha back in the early months of the season, but Lisicki earned revenge with a win in Toronto last month. In both matches Strycova has managed to get a decent clip of the points against the serve, but her own serve can be a weakness and Lisicki got a little more out of it in the second match which led to her win.

The German can at least get some confidence that she can produce decent serving stats by her performances in the first two Rounds here, although Strycova is clearly someone who can nullify the first serve effectively and force Lisicki to win long rallies from the baseline.

My problem for Strycova to solve though is if Lisicki does keep serving as she has so far, how does Strycova plan to protect her own serve? It resulted in a heavy loss to Lesia Tsurenko and while I don't foresee this match going that one-sided, I do think Lisicki can back up her win in Toronto with a 75, 64 win here.

Simona Halep - 6.5 games v Shelby Rogers: This is a big number of games for Simona Halep to cover in a Third Round of a Grand Slam, but she should have far too much for Shelby Rogers and it is then about whether she can take the chances she will be able to create.

For all the credit that has to be given to Rogers for coming through the Qualifiers and then winning two main draw matches, she has also not had the most taxing of draws and the level of play goes up markedly in this one.

Wins over the likes of Sachia Vickery and Kurumi Nara in the main draw of a Grand Slam have to be described as a kind path through the section. Now she faces a player who many consider as one of the top two threats to Serena Williams' chances of winning the season Grand Slam and I don't think Rogers is able to bridge that gap in class.

Halep has had to battle a lot more in recent weeks to win matches, but against players of a higher standard than Rogers who has taken heavy losses to the Naomi Broady, Andrea Petkovic and Ana Konjuh in the last six weeks. I expect confidence will mean Rogers makes this tougher work for Halep than she might have done pre-tournament, but I still like the look of the Number 2 Seed winning this one 63, 62.

MY PICKS: Richard Gasquet - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 6.5 Games @ 1.75 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 7.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
John Isner - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andrea Petkovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Varvara Lepchenko - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sabine Lisicki - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Stan James (2 Units)

US Open Update: 23-19, + 4.79 Units (84 Units Staked, + 5.70% Yield)

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