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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Wimbledon Tennis Day 1 Picks 2016 (June 27th)

The third Grand Slam of the season begins on Monday, although the weather in London is forecasted to give the organisers problems through the first week of the event. At least Wimbledon can point to Centre Court as having a roof to get some of the matches played, but it is also a chance for the organisers to feel they have made the correct decision to get a roof ready for Court One, although that won't be around until 2019.

Forget the weather for now as that changes so often in London that it is hard to keep up, but instead let's look forward to the next two weeks of tennis that is due to be played at Wimbledon. Once again the leaders in the outright markets are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams and both are clear favourites to win the tournament.

For Novak Djokovic it is a chance to edge towards making considerable history as he looks to add the Wimbledon title, the Olympic Gold Medal and the US Open title to the Australian Open and French Open he has already won. That would make it the most special year on the ATP Tour from any player, although might have wished for a kinder draw.

That is where Andy Murray has come out with a little fortune in the draw as he avoids the big threats who are in Novak Djokovic's side of the draw. His biggest threat might be Nick Kyrgios who is a potential Fourth Round opponent and that would certainly make for a good showing on 'Magic Monday' in front of a loud Centre Court crowd.

Serena Williams will be looking to win her first major title since taking home the Wimbledon title twelve months ago and comes in as favourite to do that. However she has to get over the mental baggage of losing in the Final of both the Australian Open and French Open this year while she was stunned in a Semi Final loss at the US Open last September.

Some might feel that Serena's aura has disappeared thanks to those losses, but she is a very good grass court player and it has taken some special performances to beat her in the last three Majors. She is vulnerable at times in any tournament Serena Williams plays, but she does look the player to beat again.

The Woman's draw looks much more wide open than the Men's though when looking for a winner outside of Serena Williams, but many of the potential dark horses to win the title have been given unkind draws. One player that might be a huge price coming out of the bottom half of the draw looks to be Venus Williams whose game is very much suited to the grass.

It isn't the easiest section from which to reach the Semi Final, but Venus Williams has a chance to work her way into this tournament and quotes of 66-1 look wide of the mark even at this stage of her career.

On Monday the opening matches of the third Grand Slam of the season will be played through the day and I have picks from those below.

Nicolas Almagro - 6.5 games v Rogerio Dutra Silva: Wimbledon might be the most famous of the tennis Grand Slams, but that doesn't mean participation here is the most important part of the Tour for every player. There are plenty of players that simply don't understand the grass courts and for those it is nice to have an opportunity to play here without the expectations of a really deep run.

Prize money at Grand Slams is the motivation so being in the top 100 of the World Rankings and earning an automatic place in the main draw would be welcomed by Rogerio Dutra Silva. The veteran Brazilian generally makes his trade on the clay courts and he has had little preparation for the move onto the grass.

This is the first match Dutra Silva has played on the grass in two seasons and I would expect Nicolas Almagro to be too strong for him. Almagro has been improving his World Ranking since injury and he has the game that should work well on the grass even if he hasn't always had the results to back that up.

A big serve should offer up some cheaper opportunities to win points and Almagro might be comfortable in the match up as Dutra Silva will likely get involved in some longer rallies and allow the Spaniard to work on his rhythm. Almagro should be more confident on the grass and he can wear down Dutra Silva in this one by recording a confidence boosting 64, 63, 64 win.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 5.5 games v Pierre-Hugues Herbert: When these players met in Stuttgart earlier this month, I backed Philipp Kohlschreiber to cover a number that was only one game fewer than this one. I can only guess that the withdrawal from the tournament in Halle has left some doubts around Kohlschreiber, but that came about thanks to playing around ten days straight and I am confident he will be good to go now.

Kohlschreiber served well in beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert 64, 61 in Stuttgart and that means he has two comfortable wins over the Frenchman in their two previous matches, both of those coming on grass.

Despite what looks a solid enough game for the grass, Herbert has not won too many main Tour matches on the surface. He did reach the Second Round at Wimbledon after coming through the Qualifiers last year though and Herbert's big serve and confidence to get to the net does make him a threat.

Even with that in mind, I think Kohlschreiber will begin to get a read on what is coming and he has a very strong ability to force Herbert into making tough volleys. That can wear down a player mentally more than physically and I think Kohlschreiber will be too good as long as he serves well and doesn't give Herbert any reason to feel confident.

A 64, 62, 64 kind of win looks to be on the cards for Kohlschreiber.

Lukas Rosol-Sam Querrey Over 3.5 sets: Lukas Rosol will never be forgotten at Wimbledon for the way in which he beat Rafael Nadal here in 2012, but this season has been very difficult for him. He comes to Wimbledon having lost both warm up matches he played in Halle and Nottingham, although Rosol should still be a dangerous opponent for a limited returner like Sam Querrey.

The American has had better results than Rosol on the grass over the last month with the most notable run being to the Semi Final in Hertogenbosch. Querrey has a huge serve and a big forehand that should make him very tough to beat but he has not had a strong run at Wimbledon since reaching the Fourth Round in 2010 which followed on just a couple of weeks after winning Queens.

A limited return game should mean Rosol has enough to force a tie-breaker or two in this match and he has shown he can hit a purple patch off the ground at any time. The Czech player has lost in the First Round just once in his four appearances in the main draw and this could be a long match if we get into the fifth set with someone needing a break of serve to win the match.

Recent form suggests Rosol won't have enough to cause the upset in this one, but Querrey will give him chances to win at least one set and backing four sets or more to be played looks like it will be given an opportunity to occur.

David Ferrer - 6.5 games v Dudi Sela: This season has definitely seen a slip in the performances of David Ferrer and his run of six years where he has won at least 50 matches in a single season is in danger. There hasn't really been a lot to get excited about in his warm up events for Wimbledon and Ferrer's serve has become even more vulnerable this season.

Since reaching the Wimbledon Quarter Final in 2013, Ferrer is just 2-4 on the surface and his losses to Gilles Muller and Andreas Seppi are disappointments by the standards he has set for himself. However one success was against Dudi Sela who Ferrer beat in straight sets in Hertogenbosch although the Spaniard did give up more break point chances in that game than he earned.

A run to the Quarter Final in Nottingham last week would have given Sela confidence to take into Wimbledon, but his serve is also a weakness. That should mean Ferrer earns his own opportunities to break serve and this could be something of a long match with some of the rallies likely going to take something of a physical effort to win.

On first glance this does look a lot of games for David Ferrer to cover, but I think he is the better player and can show that. It would be nice to think Ferrer will serve better than he did when they played in Hertogenbosch and he can just be a little more solid when he does get in the lead. If he can do that, I like Ferrer winning this match 63, 64, 64.

Anna-Lena Friedsam - 2.5 games v Zarina Diyas: It has been a tough 2016 for Zarina Diyas which has seen her slip down the World Rankings and her take in a couple of events off the main Tour to improve confidence. Taking in no grass court matches prior to the start of Wimbledon might also highlight that Diyas is not in the best place to match her run to the Fourth Round at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015.

Those runs might give Diyas a bit of belief to take into the First Round match, but she is going up against Anna-Lena Friedsam who has had a couple of solid wins in the last couple of weeks. Friedsam has a decent first serve and has to employ that shot to the fullest to keep Diyas under pressure and take advantage of any loss of confidence her opponent has had.

The German has won a title at the lower level on this surface, but she is yet to have a really big impact in an event on the main Tour. Losses have come early at Wimbledon but Friedsam will be going to SW19 in much more confident form with some solid results behind her.

I am opposing Diyas more than backing Friedsam in this one. As well as Diyas has played at Wimbledon in the last couple of years, I think she will be put under pressure by Friedsam in this one and I can see a situation where she just folds in the last set at a critical time which can happen to those who have lost confidence.

A 63, 46, 64 win for Friedsam could be the outcome of this one.

Camila Giorgi + 4.5 games v Garbine Muguruza: Winning the French Open and Wimbledon double is one of the biggest challenges in tennis and the Number 2 Seed Garbine Muguruza will also feel a different emotion going into this tournament. Last season Muguruza reached the Final at Wimbledon, but that was an unexpected run and there is definitely a different pressure going into an event as a Grand Slam winner.

She hasn't had a lot of time to deal with her new found fame and new Grand Slam winners tend to hit a slump in the immediate aftermath of that victory. That might have been part of the reason Garbine Muguruza was beaten by Kirsten Flipkens in her only grass court match in preparation for Wimbledon and the Spaniard faces a really big threat in the First Round on Monday.

Camila Giorgi has a lot of ability, but she can struggle with the consistency to really give the top ten players a run for their money. It has not been a great season for Giorgi to this point and she has lost both matches she has played on the grass this past month but she did win a title on grass just twelve months ago.

If she can limit the double faults, Giorgi is the kind of player that can match the firepower that Muguruza will bring to the court. I can see her playing with her care-free attitude and try and take advantage of the pressure of expectation that Muguruza might not be comfortable dealing with so soon after winning her first Grand Slam title and I like the amount of games being given to the Italian.

Yanina Wickmayer + 4.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: She might have been in and around the top 10 in the World Rankings, but Karolina Pliskova does not have much of a Grand Slam record to talk about. She is yet to get beyond the Third Round at any Grand Slam event and Pliskova has been knocked out in the Second Round in each of the last three Wimbledon events.

It is a big surprise when you think of the tools Pliskova has at her disposal. Her first serve is about as good as it gets on the WTA Tour and she has heavy groundstrokes, but I am not sure she is the best at coping with pressure.

This last month should have given Pliskova some confidence having reached two Finals on the grass courts and won a title. A long run in Eastbourne might have sapped some physical strength considering she played in the Final on Saturday and Pliskova has to be careful against someone like Yanina Wickmayer who has a powerful game herself.

The Belgian hasn't really played well on the grass courts in recent years though and is just 2-3 in her preparation events this time around too. However Wickmayer has a big serve and can be very strong on the ground and can pose plenty of problems in this one. I was convinced she wouldn't be as big an underdog as she is in this one on the handicaps and I think Wickmayer has enough power to keep this one close.

It is a lot of games for Pliskova to cover and I will look for Wickmayer to keep this one competitive.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Almagro - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lukas Rosol-Sam Querrey Over 3.5 Sets @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Anna-Lena Friedsam - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Camila Giorgi + 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Yanina Wickmayer + 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

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