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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (June 22nd)

We are now only a couple of days away before the Wimbledon draw is released so the Qualifiers will continue this week so the draw is ready to be filled out.

I am looking forward to Wimbledon even if it is perhaps being overshadowed by the Euro 2016 tournament with England playing on the opening day of the third Grand Slam of the season. The next two weeks will be full of big events with Wimbledon finishing on the same day of the Euro 2016 Final and I have to say you have got to look forward to that.

For now the concentration is on the two grass court events being played in Eastbourne and Nottingham and Tuesday proved to be a decent day for the picks. It should have been a lot better after Ana Konjuh pulled out with an injury a game away from being blow away by Monica Puig, while I don't think I will ever know how Ekaterina Makarova blew her chances to beat Roberta Vinci convincingly from the positions she manufactured in each of the three sets they played.

On Wednesday all of the Third Round matches will be played as the events try to beat some of the strange weather expected later in the week.

Mikhail Youzhny + 2.5 games v Gilles Muller: The last couple of years have been very difficult for Mikhail Youzhny who is down at Number 73 in the World Rankings. He will have looked at the grass courts as a chance to perhaps improve that Ranking and making a second consecutive Quarter Final would be some achievement for Youzhny.

The Russian won't need me to tell him the size of the task in front of him in this Third Round encounter against Gilles Muller. His opponent reached the Final in Hertongenbosch and then the Quarter Final in Queens as the Muller lefty serve can be quite devastating on the grass courts.

Muller had an impressive win this week already over Jiri Vesely, and he is going to put Youzhny under some immense pressure in this one. However I do think the latter has enough grass court experience and is playing well enough of late to give Muller a few problems to solve himself.

The key for Youzhny is going to be getting enough balls back in play on the return of serve and see if Muller can hold up from the back of the court or make the right approaches to the net. Youzhny needs to serve well to keep Muller from taking complete control of this match and I think this might be a tight match that needs three sets to determine the winner.

Steve Johnson - 2.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: Two big serving players from North America will look to impose their game on the other and there is not a lot to split Steve Johnson and Vasek Pospisil.

Both players have had disappointing 2016 seasons to this point, but recent form certainly gives Steve Johnson the edge. He has been using his serve to full effect on the grass courts over the last couple of weeks compared with Pospisil who won his first main Tour match since the Miami Masters when beating Damir Dzumhur in the Second Round.

That does not show that Dzumhur had to come through a match earlier in the day and perhaps had little to offer either emotionally or physically. It shouldn't be the case for Johnson who had another very impressive win against John Millman on Tuesday and who should feel a big serving display gives him a big edge in the contest.

For all the power Pospisil has, he has not really made the best use of his serve and I think Johnson comes through 76, 64 in this one.

Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 games v Monica Puig: There was no doubting that Caroline Wozniacki was playing at a very decent level when crushing Sam Stosur in straight sets on Tuesday. She used the windy conditions to her advantage and Wozniacki looked after her serve effectively and I think she will need to be close to her best in this one to get through to the Quarter Final.

Her opponent is Monica Puig who has won four matches in Eastbourne already this week and also reached a Semi Final on the grass earlier this month. A confident Puig can be a very dangerous player as she has a decent serve and heavy groundstrokes, but I do think someone like Wozniacki has the capabilities to frustrate her on a grass court.

I think Wozniacki will look to play Puig like Kirsten Flipkens did in beating her in straight sets last week in Mallorca. I expect Wozniacki will try to vary the pace she gives Puig off the ground while her ability to slice the ball and keep it low might extract more errors from the Puerto Rican's game.

The key for Wozniacki will be to serve as well as she did for the most part against Stosur and try and keep Puig unbalanced on the return. If she can do that, I do think Wozniacki will be a little too good on the day and come through 75, 64.

Johanna Konta + 3.5 games v Petra Kvitova: Last season was a memorable one for Johanna Konta and one that will see her going into Wimbledon as one of the Seeded players. Getting to this position is a great achievement, but Konta will need to double her work to stay inside the top twenty in the World Rankings.

It has been hard graft for her in recent weeks and the grass court season has been something of a disappointment for Konta so far. Konta has only won back to back matches once since the Miami Premier Event, that coming at the Rome Premier Event, and that means she is yet to win two matches in a row on the grass this season.

Any time you play a former Wimbledon Champion it is going to be a challenge, so Konta taking on a two time Wimbledon Champion in Petra Kvitova is a huge task in front of her. Even though Kvitova's game is perfect for the grass courts, she hasn't been firing this season and too often has dropped silly sets and subsequently matches, while it has to be said that Kvitova was fortunate to beat Timea Babos in straight sets.

The serve for both players is going to be key in this Third Round match and I do think Konta will be inspired by the home crowd to take a set in this one. If she can take the chances that Babos missed on Tuesday, Konta can make this a very close match and I will take the games against a dangerous player like Kvitova.

Andrea Petkovic - 1.5 games v Ekaterina Makarova: These two players both took on awkward Italian players on Tuesday and both Andrea Petkovic and Ekaterina Makarova came through in three tough sets. This looks a very interesting Third Round match but I think Petkovic will have the edge having won all four previous matches against Makarova.

That alone isn't enough to make me believe in Petkovic, but she has had some previous solid results on the grass. Petkovic does have some heavy shots that makes her dangerous on this surface and I also have to say I am not convinced about Makarova who has looked a little unsure of herself in her last two matches.

Makarova has shown a little more form in those matches at the right time to come through against Tara Moore and Roberta Vinci but she will have to be a lot better against a competent grass court player like Petkovic. I also think Makarova may struggle against someone like Petkovic who can play solid defence, but has the power to quickly turn a point around in her favour while also being the superior mover around the court.

It has been Petkovic who has shown that to be the key to their matches and she has won seven sets in a row. I think she is the player more likely to battle through some difficult moments in this one and I like Petkovic to win 75, 64.

MY PICKS: Mikhail Youzhny + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Johanna Konta + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrea Petkovic - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-1 + 3.62 Units (8 Units Staked, + 45.25% Yield)

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