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Friday, 29 July 2016

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2016 (July 29th)

We have reached the Quarter Finals in Toronto and Montreal as the Rogers Cup/Coupe Rogers has gotten to the business end of the event.

It hasn't felt like a Masters tournament without the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray involved in the ATP Masters event in Toronto, but I guess we have to get used to that. With Federer already out for the season and Nadal suffering with his wrist issues, Murray might be battling Novak Djokovic the rest of the way in the big events remaining in 2016.

The battle for the Number 1 Ranking is firmly up in the air too, especially if Djokovic is not at his best physically as the rumour mill keeps suggesting and the next few months could be huge for Andy Murray to tick off another achievement in what has been a wonderful career.

The WTA Premier Event in Montreal has seen most of the big names in action, although the absence of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka for differing reasons has taken away some of the names most familiar to casual fans.

It has been a decent week there too, but again it feels like something has been missing with the Olympic Games perhaps taking away some of the motivation in this event.


Thursday was a disappointing day for the picks, but it has still been a half decent week. The last three days will be key to end the tournament on a high and keep the momentum of this month behind the picks going into August where there will be plenty of big events taking place as well as the start of the US Open.

Picks from the Quarter Final matches to be played on Friday will be made once the markets are available.


Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 games v Kevin Anderson: It has been a strong week for Kevin Anderson who has not been showing a lot of form since coming back to the Tour from an injury. That included early losses in Wimbledon and Washington, but Anderson should have been given plenty of confidence from his come from behind win over Bernard Tomic.

They key was the serving in the second set when facing eight break points early which could have seen the match get away from Anderson. However he saved those and then looked the stronger player against the Australian, but Anderson will need to improve again if he is to beat Stan Wawrinka.

Wawrinka hasn't always been at his best this week, but he is doing just enough to come through his matches, while he win over Jack Sock has to be respected considering how the American has been playing. The Swiss player has gotten used to having a target on his back as one of the top Seeds, and he did snap a four match losing run against Anderson by beating him when they last met at the US Open in 2015.

It is a close match because the Anderson serve can be a frustration for Wawrinka and I think that is why the South African had a strong recent record against him. There is always a chance Wawrinka will have a bad serving day which would cost him against someone who serves as well as Anderson on the hard courts, but I am not completely convinced the latter is at his best form.

A first set tie-breaker could be the key moment of the match- if Wawrinka can take that, I imagine he will have a similar response to what he did against Sock on Thursday and can beat Anderson 76, 64 for a place in the Semi Final.


Kei Nishikori - 3.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: After yet another poor display in the First Round, Grigor Dimitrov somehow came through his match against Yuichi Sugita. That was a match he has been losing consistently through 2016, but the win might have sparked something as Dimitrov has not dropped a set since on his way through to the Quarter Final.

However the last two opponents have not been to the standard that Kei Nishikori will bring to the court and I am not convinced Dimitrov has turned a corner in his form.

In this match he will be pressured on his serve thanks to the Nishikori quality when it comes to the return game and that has seen Dimitrov throw away his own serve in recent weeks. Forcing Dimitrov to play a few more balls than he would like will see errors creep into the Bulgarian game and I do think Nishikori can create a few break point chances in this one.

The key for Nishikori will be to serve well and keep the pressure on Dimitrov through this match. You know there will be times when Dimitrov fashions break points too, but Nishikori has looked strong in Toronto and I think he will be the better player consistently when the rallies are developed. That should help Nishikori come through this match with a 64, 64 win and his place in the Semi Final on Saturday.


Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Tomas Berdych: I have been an interested spectator when it comes to Novak Djokovic this week after the suggestions he had some sort of physical issue in his defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. There were then some rumours that he had to end his practice session earlier in the week in Toronto before the scheduled time, but Djokovic has played well in his two wins so far.

This is the biggest test for him when he faces Tomas Berdych who has been serving well, but not exactly been on fire when it comes to his returning game. A match that Djokovic has dominated through his career, it will be interesting to see if there are any mental or physical scars that the World Number 1 is battling through.

So far he has looked in control and Djokovic doesn't mind this match up as he is able to get plenty of the big Berdych serves back in play and he will always feel he can do very well in the rallies against this opponent. It might be tougher if Djokovic is not quite feeling 100%, but Berdych also has to get over the mental hurdle of facing someone who has beaten him eleven times in a row and won the last twelve sets they have played.

Djokovic has looked good enough this week that I don't mind backing him in this Quarter Final against Berdych. While another big serving display from Berdych makes him dangerous through this match, I think Djokovic can negate that weapon and come through with a 75, 63 win.


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 4.5 games v Madison Keys: After her success at Wimbledon, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has backed it up at her first tournament on the hard courts with her run to the Quarter Final this week. She had an impressive win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the Third Round which has opened the draw for her, but this is a big match for her against Madison Keys who hammered Venus Williams in the same Round.

Expect plenty of big serving and big shot making in this one as both players look to play first strike tennis and it is going to be an interesting match. I am surprised that Pavlyuchenkova is being given so many games, but I think the layers believe Keys has the securer serve of the two players as well as the superior movement around the court.

However I don't think either is a great defender so Pavlyuchenkova can dictate rallies if she does get the first big strike in which makes her a dangerous opponent in this Quarter Final. Keys can be a very strong player on the hard courts and can dismiss opponents with little effort behind her big game, but someone like Pavlyuchenkova is playing with enough confidence to win a set and keep this match competitive.

That is what makes me feel this is too many games being given to the Russian even if she can sometimes be loose behind her serve. She has been firing in the last couple of Rounds and I think her power can give Keys some issues to contend with in what looks a close match. Taking this many games looks like the right call and I will back Pavlyuchenkova to get within the number even in a losing effort.


Johanna Konta - 5.5 games v Kristina Kucova: After winning in Stanford, Johanna Konta could have been forgiven for not being at her best in Montreal. However the British Number 1 has looked dominant so far this week and a look through the draw should have Konta believing she can add an even bigger prize to her trophy cabinet than the one she won last week.

It has been a really dominant week from Konta as she has barely dropped games on her way through the draw. In what should have been a big Quarter Final against home favourite Eugenie Bouchard, Konta will believe she has been given a good draw against Kristina Kucova who has played more tennis this week than she is perhaps used to.

You have to respect anyone who has come through the Qualifiers as Kucova has, especially when they have backed that up with three wins in the main draw. However she has been forced to come from behind in every win in the main draw against Yanina Wickmayer, the Washington Champion last week, Carla Suarez Navarro and Bouchard.

That won't be as easy against a front runner like Konta who has gotten stronger in the second set in each of her three wins this week. She has been serving so well that Kucova will be under pressure throughout this match and Konta has been returning well enough to break serve 12/26 times she has had those opportunities.

The Kucova serve has been broken twelve times in three main draw matches this week and Konta has only faced six break points. That can be the difference maker as Konta creates all the chances and wears down her opponent physically and mentally for a 63, 63 win and a place in the next Round.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 William Hill (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova + 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 16-12, + 3.56 Units (56 Units Staked, + 6.36% Yield)

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