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Monday, 25 July 2016

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (July 25th)

With the Olympic Games putting an additional tournament into the Tennis calendar and many of the top players keen to win the Gold Medal, the Canadian Masters have been moved forward from its usual position on the Tour.

This year it is being played at the end of July rather than in August and a number of the top players have decided they won't take part. That list includes Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, but it should still be a big week of tennis with the two events in Montreal and Toronto taking centre stage.

On Monday we begin the First Round matches in what is a draw that takes place over seven days.

It is still a big field that has made it into the draw and there are some big Ranking points to be earned which is more important than a Gold Medal for many players on the Tour. Next week we do have some Ranking tournaments taking place alongside the Olympic Games and so the field will again be spread out over a number of venues even if the biggest names will be taking part in Rio de Janeiro.

Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: It is very difficult to trust Grigor Dimitrov to perform as you would expect when you see the form he has produced over the last two years. His straight sets loss to Daniel Evans last week in Washington was yet another shot to the confidence which has already been severely dented over the last few months.

Despite the disappointing manner of that loss, Dimitrov has played his best tennis on the hard courts and this is a First Round match I fully expect him to win.

Yuichi Sugita is still outside the top 100 in the World Rankings and he is a player that spends almost his entire year off the main Tour. He has only reached a couple of Quarter Finals on the hard courts at the Challenger level and his defeats tend to be a little one sided as he is not blessed with the biggest serve and is forced to work hard for every point he earns in a match.

That can be difficult on the faster surfaces where it can be tough to recover breaks of serve that the Sugita game has to expect to face. I do think Sugita might find himself having some chances to break too with the way Dimitrov's confidence has been reduced, but I have to think the latter is still good enough to win a match like this with room to spare.

I believe Dimitrov can come through a couple of awkward moments to win this match 63, 64 and move into the Second Round in Toronto.

John Isner - 4.5 games v Dudi Sela: The manner in which John Isner was beaten last week in Washington will bother the American who was looking to win the title there as the Number 1 Seed. He will be looking to bounce back in Toronto with a strong run on another North American hard court as he faces Dudi Sela in the First Round.

On first glance this looks a big number for Isner to cover considering his limited return game, especially if Sela is mentally focused when the scoreboard pressure is on him. The one issue for Sela is that his serve can be a weakness and Isner is going to be aggressive and look to swing out on the return of serve, especially on any second serves he sees.

The Isner serve is always going to be a big weapon on the faster surfaces and he has changed his tact by throwing in a serve and volley to disrupt opponents returns. It is a good idea as Isner's volleying isn't too bad and I can see him use a chip and charge on the return to put more pressure on Sela to find the passing shots consistently.

Sela has not been able to take his form on the hard courts at Challenger level onto the main Tour and I am backing Isner to cover this number in a 63, 64 win in the First Round.

Jack Sock - 4.5 games v Denis Kudla: This might be the seventh meeting between two Americans Jack Sock and Denis Kudla, but the former is certainly looking like a player that is moving in a positive direction in the World Rankings. Jack Sock was an unfortunate Quarter Final loser in Washington last week, but he looked much better than Denis Kudla who was beaten by John Millman 75, 60.

Last year Sock and Kudla did split two matches, but I think the confidence levels are much different going into this match. Kudla has failed to win any of his last five matches and he is just 5-9 on the hard courts over 2016 in both main Tour and Challenger events.

Kudla does have a half decent game behind him, but it is one that can quickly fall apart if he is not feeling the ball as well as he can. His serve will give Sock something to work out, but you have to believe the latter is going to be the better player in the rallies and has the forehand to really hurt Kudla.

It has to be a strong serving day from Sock to keep the pressure on Kudla, but he was serving very well in Washington last week and I expect that to continue. The hard courts should be the perfect surface for Sock who can beat his compatriot 64, 63 to move through to the Second Round.

Samantha Stosur - 2.5 games v Heather Watson: This will be the first appearance on the Tour for Heather Watson since she won the Mixed Doubles title at Wimbledon, but it is on the Singles Tour she really wishes to make her mark. Going 1-4 on the grass courts was a really big disappointment for Watson who is significantly behind Johanna Konta in the World Rankings representing Great Britain.

Her World Ranking has dropped to Number 67, but Watson may feel the return to the hard courts will suit her as her best results have come on this surface. She actually has won a title on the hard courts this season and reached the Fourth Round in Miami and the next few weeks could see a significant improvement in her Ranking as Watson has very few points to defend through to the US Open.

Watson may have been hoping for a better draw than facing Samantha Stosur in the First Round in Montreal, a player who reached the Quarter Final in Washington last week before a disappointing loss. However it has to be noted that Stosur has not had the best season on the hard courts and was beaten in her first match in Canada and Cincinnati last year.

She is a former US Open winner though and Stosur's game should be very strong on the hard courts even if her backhand has been a particular weakness. If she can serve well, the Australian will believe she can create chances against the Watson serve which is erratic to say the least. After a tough three sets, I think Stosur can fight back and win this one 46, 63, 64 and move into the next Round.

Monica Puig - 4.5 games v Naomi Broady: There are three British players in the Montreal draw this week after Naomi Broady came through two tough Qualifiers to enter the main draw. Her World Ranking is inside the top 100 now which means she is likely to have an automatic place in the US Open draw next month, but Broady has struggled for consistent results over the last few months.

Braody made a really positive start to the year having reached the Quarter Final in Auckland and later reaching the Semi Final in Kuala Lumper. However she is just 7-12 in matches sine that Semi Final which included Broady going 0-4 on the grass courts last month. Her wins in the Qualifiers will have boosted confidence and Broady can put together some really strong serving which makes her dangerous, but she faces a very tough First Round encounter here against Monica Puig.

There is no doubting that Puig would have been disappointed in her Second Round loss in Washington last week and it has to be said that her game will produce some erratic performances. Puig will look to be very aggressive behind a decent first serve, but that can also mean a lot of unforced errors if she is not quite feeling her 'A' game.

Puig hasn't always produced her best results on the hard courts, but I think her two wins over Broady this year will boost her belief in winning this match. It is a big number if Broady is playing her best, but I think Puig will prove too strong in a 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
John Isner - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Monica Puig - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Season 2016- 25.60 Units (1203 Units Staked, - 2.13% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)

Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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