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Monday, 7 September 2015

US Open Day 8 Picks 2015 (September 7th)

Half of the Quarter Finals have been set on Sunday and the other half will be set up on Monday when the likes of Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep take to the courts.

It has been a mixed bag of a tournament for my picks up to this point, and the underdogs have been flying, but that turned around a little bit on Sunday. It might be the time for the top players to turn it up by another couple of gears as we have entered the second week of the tournament and getting into the business end of the tour and that might be evident on the performances that they produce on the court.

Stan Wawrinka - 6.5 games v Donald Young: It has not been a great week for Stan Wawrinka at the US Open, but he is importantly still in the draw and has shown he can peak at the right time in a Grand Slam event. Wawrinka hasn't dropped a set this week so some people may think I am being harsh in my criticism of a two time Grand Slam Champion, but his opponents haven't been the most taxing and he has made it harder work than it perhaps should have been.

The Fourth Round draw looks like one that Stan Wawrinka should be happy with as he meets Donald Young who has expended a lot of energy over the last seven days. The American has needed five sets on two occasions already and while Young showed tremendous heart to battle back and beat Victor Troicki, I do wonder if it has taken some of the wind out of his sail.

Coming off a big win can be tough from both a physical and mental standpoint and Young has to show that he has handled the moment with limited time to rest up. His game can be flashy, but Young plays a high risk brand of tennis and making mistakes can only make a player feel even more tired after three tough matches.

Covering big numbers hasn't exactly been a strength for Stan Wawrinka, but he should earn some revenge for a five set loss to Young here four years ago and I fancy he will be too good. If fatigue does set in for Young in these hot conditions in New York City, Wawrinka can find his way to a 76, 63, 63 kind of win.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Kevin Anderson: Kevin Anderson made it eight straight wins with a couple of hard fought tie-breakers seeing past Dominic Thiem in the Third Round, but he is going to have to raise his game another level to get past Andy Murray. Anderson isn't feeling any effects of playing in, and winning, Winston Salem last week and exclaimed he was 'feeling fantastic' following his win over Thiem.

The problem Anderson has is that his biggest weapon, the serve, is regularly nullified by Andy Murray in previous meetings. The South African player has to find a way to make Murray think about the return and playing on the faster Louis Armstrong court certainly aids him, but Anderson has to mix things up to keep Murray off balance.

The question for me is can Anderson do that for long enough to get past Murray and I struggle to believe it leads to more than a set. Andy Murray had been suffering with flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, but admitted he felt much better in the Third Round and two more days of recovery should have him ready for this match.

Murray will get enough balls back in play in awkward positions to give Anderson some issues and he has won 9 of their last 11 sets including both at Queens in the summer and winning in three sets in Miami earlier in the season. The World Number 3 was a little loose with his game against Anderson in Murray, but still broke him four times and I do think he comes through with a 63, 64, 76 win.

Tomas Berdych - 2.5 games v Richard Gasquet: Tomas Berdych has quietly gone about his business this week, but this is the time to raise his game if he is going to progress further in the US Open. He might have won in four sets against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the Third Round, but Berdych put in a couple of really sloppy service games which could see him punished by Richard Gasquet.

There is no doubt that Gasquet is feeling good about his game at the moment, but he has benefited from playing a couple of opponents who didn't have enough in the tank to compete. The win over Bernard Tomic was easy for Gasquet after the Australian was forced to go five sets to beat Lleyton Hewitt, but facing Tomas Berdych is a different proposition.

Both men should see their serves aided by the faster conditions out on Louis Armstrong court compared with Arthur Ashe, but you have to give Berdych the mental edge having won their last three head to head matches to level the career series. Those wins include two on the hard courts of Shanghai and Doha, both in very clear fashion for Berdych, and he does have the power to hit through Gasquet when on form.

It could easily come down to which of these two players are serving the most efficiently to decide who goes on to the Quarter Final, but I think the signs are pointing to Berdych being too good. He has to cut out the mistakes that cost him too many breaks of serve against Garcia-Lopez, but Berdych's three wins over Gasquet within the last twelve months will give him enough of a mental edge in the contest too.

At the highest level, that can make the small difference between winning and losing and I like Berdych to come through 63, 36, 76, 64 in this Fourth Round match.

Roger Federer Win 3-1 v John Isner: One of the big problems John Isner has had in the Grand Slam events is being able to conserve the energy to make him a threat going into the second week. With a limited return game, Isner was forced to play a lot of tie-breakers which would result in longer matches and physically take its toll on the big man.

However, Isner can't complain about fatigue this year at the US Open having benefited from a retirement in the Third Round. Even more surprising has to be the fact that the eight sets he has played at Flushing Meadows have all been won by Isner and WITHOUT playing a single tie-breaker.

He has been a little more aggressive on the return while Isner is willing to come to the net and force players to pass under pressure and he has to be praised for adding a new wrinkle to his game. Being able to maintain that against Roger Federer is a whole different ball game though and Federer has been in imperious form having won all nine sets he has played.

After winning Cincinnati, Federer looks fresh and focused and I do think he holds the edge of being able to make an effective return at a critical time which should see him get past Isner. I don't think it will be in straight sets though with the way Isner has been serving and returning this week and I can see the big American taking one of the first two sets before Federer is able to just make a few more balls as Isner gets more tired and helps him get into another Quarter Final here.

I did consider backing John Isner with a 2.5 set handicap lead at odds against, especially as Roger Federer has been stunned a couple of times in recent years at the US Open, but I just don't believe it will happen here. At most I can see Isner taking a set in the middle of the match, but that will just delay the end and Federer should be able to dictate terms for much of the match and eventually wear down his opponent.

Flavia Pennetta v Sam Stosur: Neither Flavia Pennetta nor Sam Stosur showed off too much form in preparation for the US Open, but now find themselves a match from reaching the Quarter Final.

Both have had some of their biggest successes in North America with Stosur a former winner of this event and Pennetta a Premier Event winner. However, it is the Italian who has gotten the better of the head to head and is looking for a seventh win from seven matches against Stosur.

Stosur has the bigger serve, but Pennetta is no slouch in that department herself and she is the better returner of the two players. It is the capability of getting a few more balls back in play that has proven to be the key to her success in the past and I do think Pennetta is capable of doing that on the slower Arthur Ashe court where this match is scheduled.

I have to respect her opponent as the last winner at the US Open that isn't called Serena Williams and it is clear Stosur enjoys playing here. However, she isn't at the form that took her to the title in 2011 and Pennetta can continue her strong record against her with a three set victory on Monday.

Petra Kvitova - 4.5 games v Johanna Konta: Can you imagine what reaction Johanna Konta would have had if you had told her she would be opening up the night session on Arthur Ashe in the second week of the US Open just two months ago? Back then Konta was outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but 16 wins later and she has two titles plus a place in the Fourth Round of the US Open on her CV.

Impressive wins over Garbine Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic can only have increased the confidence that Konta is playing with, but Petra Kvitova has been in incredible form herself and is finally making a big run at the US Open. She has won the title in New Haven so is clearly in decent shape and Kvitova has been dominant this week in New York as she has powered her way through the draw.

It is a tough match for Konta who has to be feeling the fatigue of all the tennis she has played of late and Maria Sharapova had too much power for her when she met her at Wimbledon. Kvitova is more capable of blowing someone off the court than Sharapova, although she can be frustrated and go through a period of producing too many unforced errors.

If Konta can extract those errors from Kvitova, the upset is on, but it is a big ask for a player who has produced so much solid tennis. The match looks like it will be played on Kvitova's racquet as most of those have this week and I just believe she will have a little too much in the locker and produce a 64, 62 kind of win.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Roger Federer Win 3-1 @ 3.80 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
Flavia Pennetta @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

US Open Update: 29-26, + 0.77 Units (110 Units Staked, + 0.07 % Yield)

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