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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (June 23rd)

I do have to say that Wednesday was a frustrating day for the picks with two of the three losing picks being in a very strong position to cover but both failing to do that. Mikhail Youzhny had a brain freeze in the third set as he needed one more game to cover, while Steve Johnson was clearly the better player against Vasek Pospisil but couldn't earn the break to win a set and instead did it in two tie-breakers.

Frustrating to say the least when you think how close both were, but it seems to be the way things have gone for me since the French Open as we have moved onto the grass courts. Next week is Wimbledon so I am hoping for a turn in fortunes, but hopefully that begins with the rest of the events in Eastbourne and Nottingham where they are hoping to get through the remaining matches and beat the poor weather that has affected all of Western Europe in what is supposed to be the summer months.

The organisers at Wimbledon will be hoping the same, but first let's get through the Quarter Final matches that have been scheduled for Eastbourne and Nottingham.

Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: Both Marcos Baghdatis and Pablo Cuevas needed three sets to come through their Third Round match, but it was the latter who had to put in a much bigger physical exertion in his win. All three sets that Cuevas played against Dan Evans were tight and would have needed some winning, while Marcos Baghdatis had to come from a set down to beat Sam Querrey but in a match that wouldn't have featured too many gruelling rallies.

Baghdatis continues to show his form on the grass courts, although he had to pull out of his Semi Final here last year with yet another injury issue. He does look healthy this time and Baghdatis will believe his experience on the grass will aid him in this match against a player that is Ranked higher than him.

However it has to be remembered that Cuevas has not had the best record on grass through his career and will be forced to work hard for some of the points he earns. The first serve isn't a bad shot, but Cuevas will have to deal with a different movement on this surface compared with his favoured clay and someone like Baghdatis can expose his limitations on grass.

We never can know how well Baghdatis will serve in a match, but he should get cheaper points out of the first serve and I think he can build pressure on Cuevas through the match. After some difficult moments, I expect Baghdatis will be able to come through this Quarter Final with a 64, 64 win.

Andreas Seppi - 3.5 games v Dudi Sela: He might never have been a consistent face in the top 4o of the World Rankings but there is plenty of talent in the Dudi Sela racquet which makes him a dangerous player when he is feeling it. He has been so far this week to reach the Quarter Final in Nottingham, but one of the big downsides of the Sela game is the serve which can be exploited on a surface like this one.

The same argument can be levelled at Andreas Seppi, but the Italian has been serving well in the last couple of weeks and he only suffered a close loss to Florian Mayer, the eventual winner in Halle. There is plenty to like about Seppi's game outside of the serve too as he can be an effective return of serve to make up for the likelihood that he would drop his own.

If he can continue in the way he has been playing over the last couple of weeks, Seppi should have the edge in a contest against a player he has beaten in both previous matches. Those came a long time ago so won't be relevant now, but I still think Seppi has shown a little more behind serve than Sela and that could be the difference in making the Semi Final.

I am expecting to see a few break points for both players, but I am looking for Seppi to be the more solid player and come through 75, 64.

Steve Johnson + 2.5 games v Kevin Anderson: The final Quarter Final in Nottingham looks to be the standout match of the day when Kevin Anderson takes on Steve Johnson.

Both players have shown decent form so far this week and the big key for both Anderson and Johnson is going to be the first serve and setting up their service games from there. The second serve and ability to attack that will also be important to get into a position to have a chance to break serve, and I think this is going to be a match dominated by the serve.

It is Kevin Anderson who leads the head to head, but the last two matches have been close and Johnson snapped a four match losing run against the South African at the end of last season. Johnson has been serving very well so far this week, but he has to maintain that as there will be a lot of pressure put on him by Anderson's own big serve which has been firing.

Anderson is yet to face a break point so far this week and was very good in beating Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday. However I have been impressed with the way Johnson has been playing too although he has to be better when he does get a half chance in this match, better than he was in his win over Vasek Pospisil.

All in all this looks a match that might need tie-breakers to settle things and I will back the American with the games in the pocket.

Kristina Mladenovic - 2.5 games v Monica Puig: A big hitting contest is likely to develop in this Quarter Final and I don't think there is an awful lot between Kristina Mladenovic and Monica Puig. Both look to be rounding into very good form for Wimbledon too judging by the results they have earned so far in Eastbourne and I think this could be a fun match with plenty of winners to enjoy.

Why do I like the Frenchwoman to come through this match though and cover what could be a large amount of games when you consider the form being shown? My main reasoning is that Mladenovic has shown more consistency in her serving this week and I think that will build some pressure on Puig who might not be prepared for the firepower that will be coming back at her in this match.

The grass courts suits both players, but I do think Mladenovic has an edge when it comes to the serve and being able to hold. That is a huge importance on the grass courts and should see her in a position to earn the majority of the break points in this one and thus get into a better position to make the Semi Final.

After a lot of big winners and some heavy hitting, I am looking for Mladenovic to see off Puig 76, 64 in this Quarter Final.

Dominika Cibulkova + 3.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: Two players who will be very familiar with one another's game will be looking to impose their will on the other in this Quarter Final. For Dominika Cibulkova it is trying to use her power to hit through the grass courts and put Agnieszka Radwanska on the backfoot, while Radwanska will look to use the conditions to frustrate Cibulkova and extract mistakes from her game.

It is Radwanska who has been able to do that more often than Cibulkova in the past, but the last seven matches have seen the latter win four of those. This year they have split two tight matches and I think Cibulkova has the talent to keep this one competitive after a couple of impressive wins in Eastbourne.

The last couple of years on the grass have not been great for Cibulkova, but her opponent is unlikely to blow her off the court either. There is no doubt that Radwanska has had a lot more success on this surface than perhaps any other and she was a Semi Finalist at Wimbledon in 2015. Since 2012 Radwanska has reached two Semi Finals and a Final at Wimbledon and the surface suits her variation of shots very well.

It should give her the edge in this one, but I also believe Cibulkova is going to give her plenty of questions to answer and is good enough to win a set in this one at least. Taking the games looks the right way to approach this Quarter Final as Cibulkova battles Radwanska to the end and perhaps even wins this match outright with a little luck.

MY PICKS: Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Andreas Seppi - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Steve Johnson + 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kristina Mladenovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-4, - 0.38 Units (16 Units Staked, - 2.38% Yield)

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