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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Wimbledon Tennis Day 3 Picks 2016 (June 29th)

The first two days of Wimbledon have not seen too many of the Seeds being upset but that is always likely to be the case when the First Round of a Grand Slam is played. Unfortunately for the organisers, the rain that affected the French Open and has remained around Europe over the last six weeks returned on Tuesday to disrupt the First Round matches that were due to be completed.

Wednesday doesn't look much better in all honesty with small periods in which play can be arranged early in the morning until around 1pm and then between 3-6pm.

This means there will be a pressure to try and make sure all the First Round matches are completed so that on Thursday it can be a full day of play completing the Second Round. It doesn't make for a great look for the organisers that some players will be in the Third Round and on schedule while others are yet to complete First Round matches, but it isn't a surprise that they won't load Centre Court without the 'big names' of will feel they have earned their places on the main show courts.

I still find it strange that they have scheduled one Ladies First Round match on Centre Court and two Mens Second Round matches on a day when it looks like heavy rain will be spread through the day, but it does come down to balance. People paying for Centre Court tickets want to see the best players but it does seem unfair to others in the draw especially on a day where it looks like rain will dominate proceedings.

It has been a good opening two days for the tennis picks made, but this has been a difficult season which has seen positive openings quickly go the other way. Hopefully that won't be the case for this tournament which is very much in the early stages and I am also hoping the rain clears up as those delays can make it difficult to project how I think matches will go. Momentum is huge in tennis and rain delays breaks momentum which may work for me in some matches, but didn't help at the French Open and I would hope to avoid those situations over the next two weeks.

I don't think I am going to have much luck in that regards with the next few days seemingly going to be affected by the weather, but hopefully I can find myself on the right side of any delays.

David Ferrer - 2.5 games v Nicolas Mahut: The grass court season has proven to be a strong point for Nicolas Mahut again as he has picked up another title in Hertogenbosch in preparation for Wimbledon. Since June 2013, Mahut has won four titles on the grass courts and that has to be respected.

However the grass courts in Wimbledon have proven to be a difficult ground for Mahut to tread and he is just 6-10 here through his career while he has not got past the Second Round since 2006. These courts don't seem to be as fast as traditional grass courts and it has been tough for Mahut to really impose his serve-volley game on opponents here.

Mahut will look to pressure David Ferrer, but the latter had a very impressive First Round performance and he will make enough returns to force his opponent into making difficult volleys. You have to think  that the longer rallies on the ground will be dominated by Ferrer although Mahut should have some success on the return against what is not the best serve on the Tour.

The Spaniard was beaten by a big-serving Gilles Muller in Hertogenbosch, but I think he will find a little more time in this one off the court. That should help Ferrer prove too good for Mahut and I like him to come through with a 76, 64, 67, 63 win.

Denis Istomin - 4.5 games v Nicolas Almagro: Over the last few years, Denis Istomin has put together a very strong record against Nicolas Almagro and he is a healthy favourite to improve those numbers. This has been a really disappointing season for Istomin who has slipped outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings after his Nottingham title winning points came off his record last week.

That makes this a big tournament for Istomin and coming back from 2-0 down in sets to beat Kevin Anderson might have inspired some confidence in his play. The grass should suit him as Istomin showed when winning the title in Nottingham last year and he has a big serve and a heavy forehand which makes him a dangerous player.

Istomin is not a bad returner, but he has struggled to take the chances when they have come his way and he will regret missing those against someone like Nicolas Almagro. The latter also had to come through a five set match, but that was a surprise as he was expected win much easier than he did having blown a 2-0 lead in sets before rallying in the final set.

At first glance I thought this was a big number for Istomin to cover considering how out of form he has been in through 2016. However it has to be said that Almagro has disappointed in recent years on the grass and Istomin had a really impressive comeback win over Anderson that has to have given him the confidence to take into this one. His dominance of Almagro on the head to head will aid that belief and I like Istomin in this Second Round match to come through with an impressive win.

Kei Nishikori - 7.5 games v Julien Benneteau: He might not have the biggest serve on the Tour, which has always made him a little vulnerable, but Julien Benneteau has been highly competitive through his career. No one should forget his performance when leading Roger Federer by two sets to nil on Centre Court back in 2012, but injuries have seen him drop out of the top 500 in the World Rankings.

 A win in the First Round will have given him a boost in both Ranking and confidence, but the last two years have seen Benneteau go 2-12 in main Tour matches. Suffice to say that Benneteau is facing a really difficult test in this one as he faces Kei Nishikori in the Second Round and I think the Number 5 Seed will be happier with the rhythm he will see in this match.

In the First Round he faced the huge serving Sam Groth who won't give you a lot of rhythm on the return of serve, but Nishikori should enjoy more rallies in this one and I think he will dominate more and more the longer it goes.

One concern has to be the rib injury that needed treatment in the match with Groth, but I think the Nishikori return of serve gives him a real edge in this one. Julien Benneteau is simply not at the level where he was pushing the likes of Federer on the grass courts and I think Nishikori will work his way to a 63, 63, 64 win in this one.

Marin Cilic-Sergiy Stakhovsky over 3.5 sets: This has the makings of a classic grass court contest in the Second Round between Marin Cilic and Sergiy Stakhovsky. The latter is most known for beating Roger Federer in the past at Wimbledon, but he has a decent serve and is capable of getting to the net and putting away volleys which can pressurise his opponents on the grass.

Stakhovsky was upset in the First Round at Wimbledon last season and he didn't have too many strong results on the surface over the past month, but he can be inspired in these big matches. His game does seem to match up with Marin Cilic having won a set against him in each of their last three matches, although it is the Croatian who has won all of those.

He will need to be better than he was against Brian Baker against whom Cilic seemed to have a difficult time putting away. On another day he would have needed more than straight sets to come through to the Second Round as his opponent missed some big chances in the second set, and Stakhovsky is capable of taking those if they come his way.

For all the big serving and heavy forehands Cilic produces, he can quickly come off the boil and present his opponent chances to win sets and I do think this will be more competitive than his First Round win over Brian Baker. Backing at least four sets to be needed looks to be the call in this one as I look for Stakhovsky to win at least one set on a surface he is very comfortable performing on.

Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 games v Misaki Doi: The chances are that Karolina Pliskova and Misaki Doi won't be able to get on the court on Wednesday barring a really big turn in the weather forecast. That might aid Pliskova even more as she looks to back up her First Round win over Yanina Wickmayer which took fourteen games in the third set to separate those players.

You would think the Pliskova serve is going to be a big difference maker in the Second Round match against an opponent she has beaten four times in a row. It has proven to be a big weapon in those wins over Doi having been broken just once in each of the last two matches and that includes a crushing win over her in Eastbourne last week.

One element that can't be known is how Pliskova is handling Grand Slam pressure having struggled through her career in the Majors. The way she battled past Wickmayer has given me some confidence that Pliskova is ready for a big tournament having won in Nottingham and reached the Final in Eastbourne and the extra rest might make this is an even bigger test for Doi.

Doi has had some competitive losses at Wimbledon which suggests she can cause problems for Pliskova. However she has failed to cover this number of games in her two losses to Pliskova on the grass and I like the latter to have a little too much in a 64, 63 win.

Jelena Jankovic - 3.5 games v Marina Erakovic: She might be Ranked 120 places ahead of her opponent, but it isn't easy to trust Jelena Jankovic these days to win matches in the fashion she might have done in the past. The Serbian former World Number 1 has turned 31 years old and I think that has seen her lose half a step in her movement which makes her much more vulnerable than she was when heading to the top of the Rankings.

Defence was the key for Jankovic in her career, but losing that half step makes it much harder to do on a consistent, week by week basis. Only once in the last eleven seasons has Jankovic failed to win at least 35 matches in a season, but she is well behind that number in 2016 where she is 11-12.

That number was improved thanks to a run to the Semi Final in Mallorca and Jankovic had an impressive win in the First Round. However she hasn't really had a strong run at Wimbledon in recent years before reaching the Fourth Round last season having gone 1-5 in matches played at Wimbledon (and the Olympics) prior to 2015.

Even with all that in mind, I think Jankovic will have too much for Marina Erakovic who has had to come through Qualifying and then a really tough First Round match. A strong run in Marrakech looks good, but this is a player that had been beaten in the First Round at Wimbledon in each of the last two seasons before this one and has struggled to Qualify for main Tour events.

I can see this being a tight match for a time, but Jankovic can make the big plays, or extract the errors, at key times to win it. Erakovic can be very good when on her 'A' game, but you have to feel Jankovic is good enough to come away with a 75, 64 win.

Alize Cornet - 2.5 games v Sara Errani: The head to head might read 4-1 in favour of Sara Errani and the Italian might have won the last four of those matches, but I think Alize Cornet can snap that run at Wimbledon. Both players were easy First Round winners on Monday but I think Cornet is the more comfortable on the grass courts.

Cornet might only be 2-4 since reaching the Fourth Round at Wimbledon in 2014 but that has been the rare bit of success she has had on the grass courts consistently. That record might not be that impressive and perhaps Cornet is rated higher having beaten Serena Williams on the surface in 2014, but Errani's record is even poorer recently as she has gone just 3-7 since reaching the Third Round at Wimbledon in 2012.

Many of those matches have seen Errani outplayed considerably, but she does like the match up with Cornet and that is my one big concern in this one. There will be many breaks in the match, but Cornet is not exactly the most unemotional player and I do worry about the mental aspect of this match up for her.

However I do think she is the stronger grass court player and Errani has shown little form in recent weeks having lost six in a row prior to Wimbledon. Only three times this season Errani has won back to back matches in the same tournament and I think Cornet will get the better of this one in a 63, 46, 64 win.

Simona Halep - 5.5 games v Francesca Schiavone: The first and only time Simona Halep and Francesca Schiavone met on the Tour, it was the veteran Italian who won convincingly. That match occurred over three years ago and things have changed significantly for both players since then that I am expecting a reversal of fortunes for them.

At 36 years old, Schiavone is now outside the top 100 in the World Rankings and she is just 3-7 on the main Tour if you take out a title win in Rio de Janeiro. The grass has not agreed with the Italian either and she was 1-9 in main Tour matches on the surface before her tough win in the First Round.

It has to be said that Simona Halep had a shock defeat here at Wimbledon twelve months ago, but she should have the consistency to move Schiavone around the court at this moment of their careers. That can only see her wear down her opponent in this one and Halep was an impressive winner in the First Round as she looks to make her way through the draw a little under the radar compared with recent Grand Slam events.

The Halep serve can be vulnerable, but I think there can be enough consistency in her game to come through with a 64, 62 win in this one.

Garbine Muguruza - 5.5 games v Jana Cepelova: Any player that has come through Qualifying in the impressive fashion that Jana Cepelova has will be respected in the draw. Cepelova lost just thirteen games in three wins in the Qualifiers and continued her run of straight sets wins in the First Round.

And Cepelova has previous that should worry the Number 2 Seed Garbine Muguruza- last season Cepelova beat Simona Halep in the First Round. That was a rare success on the grass courts in recent years for Cepelova and she is going to be tested to the fullest by last season's Finalist.

I have to credit Muguruza for the way she handled Camila Giorgi in the last couple of sets of their First Round match. The French Open Champion has shown she is capable of dealing with the mental pressure of becoming a Grand Slam Champion and the new levels of expectation that brings with the performance in the First Round, but Muguruza has to continue to back that up.

Her game looks perfectly suited to the grass even if Muguruza hadn't had a lot of success on the surface prior to her run to the Final here last season. The big serve and huge groundstrokes will be tough for Cepelova to deal with and I can see some big returns helping the Number 2 Seed to come through with a 62, 64 win.

Sabine Lisicki - 2.5 games v Samantha Stosur: If you were judging solely by the results earned in 2016 or their World Rankings, most would have Samantha Stosur as a strong favourite to beat Sabine Lisicki. That would be ignoring the surface on which they are playing and it can't be ignored how well Lisicki plays on the grass compared with Stosur who has regularly flattered to deceive.

I can't understand why Stosur has such a poor record on the grass when you see the huge serve and the heavy forehand, plus a pretty good net game. Despite that, Stosur has never been beyond the Third Round at Wimbledon which is a strange outcome for a player that has all the tools to be so effective on the surface and who has won Grand Slam titles.

Stosur did reach the Third Round here last season before losing to Coco Vandeweghe 62, 60, but getting back to that Round will be a big task against Lisicki. It has been a poor season for the German who has slipped outside the top 80 in the World Rankings, but she does tend to come alive during the limited grass court season.

Like Stosur, Lisicki has a huge serve that works very well on the grass courts and she seems very happy on the surface. Last season saw her surprisingly beaten in the Third Round, but Lisicki has reached three Quarter Finals, one Semi Final and one Final at Wimbledon since 2009.

A crushing win over Shelby Rogers will have boosted confidence, but this will be a tough match for both players. Ultimately I think the Lisicki comfort on the grass will see her have the edge over Stosur and I like her moving through to the Third Round 63, 36, 63.

MY PICKS: David Ferrer - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denis Istomin - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 7.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marin Cilic-Sergiy Stakhovsky Over 3.5 Sets @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jelena Jankovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alize Cornet - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 10-3, + 13.76 Units (26 Units Staked, + 52.92% Yield)

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