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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 13th)

The rain has heavily affected the event in Gstaad, but the other tournaments are on track going into Wednesday as the Second Round matches begin.

So far it has been a decent, if unspectacular start to the week and I am hoping to push on in the next few days.

Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 games v Thiago Monteiro: Twice already in 2016 Pablo Cuevas gotten the better of Thiago Monteiro on the clay courts, although both of those matches were played during the South American Golden Swing. The layers haven't seen anything to change the pricing on Cuevas to win this one too and I think he can do slightly better than in the first two meetings and win this one with a little more ease on the scoreboard.

Monteiro has come through the Qualifiers which would have given him plenty of confidence, especially as he backed it up with a win in the First Round. Pablo Cuevas was also very impressive in seeing off home favourite Florian Mayer and he will be tough to beat if he is serving well.

In his two wins over Monteiro earlier this season, Cuevas only lost 21% of the points behind his serve in one match and 30% in the other which is pretty remarkable on the clay. On the other hand Cuevas started to get a hold of what Monteiro was bringing to the court and I think the Uruguayan will prove to be too strong again.

While you have to respect Monteiro for his performances at the Challenger level on the clay courts, Cuevas has won titles on the main Tour. The latter should have the edge in this one once he rediscovers the best way to attack the Monteiro serve and as long as he doesn't throw in too many sloppy service games of his own. That should help Cuevas come through with a 63, 75 win.

Nicolas Almagro - 3.5 games v Paul-Henri Mathieu: The Frenchman might lead the head to head between these players, but I think Nicolas Almagro is the better clay court player and can move into the Quarter Final at Paul-Henri Mathieu's expense.

Almagro and Mathieu are 2-2 when it comes to matches played on the clay courts, but it is Almagro who has won titles on the surface including in Estoril earlier this season. Mathieu did have some strong runs on the clay courts at this time of the season last year, but his recent form suggests it would be a surprise if we see that again.

Injuries have affected him and I feel the Frenchman will be put under enough pressure from Almagro to crack through. On the other hand the Spaniard is lacking the consistency that made him a force on the clay courts in recent years before his injury but this remains Almagro's best surface.

There have been too many times when Almagro has fallen out early in a tournament on the clay courts which is a concern when backing him in the Second Round. However I think he can have a little bit extra in the tank to come through this one with a 75, 67, 63 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Albert Montanes: I backed Fernando Verdasco on Tuesday and he came through with a comfortable win over Henri Laaksonen and I will be looking for him to get past his compatriot Albert Montanes with a similar scoreline in the books.

It is Verdasco who has won all four previous matches against Montanes and you would have to say that all of those wins have come relatively easily. However, the last of those came back in 2010 and both players are much changed since then.

Now Montanes is a veteran who struggles against some of the better players on the Tour even on his favourite surface. His serve remains a vulnerable shot and someone like Verdasco has enough power in his groundstrokes to bully his compatriot around the court.

There have been some solid runs from Montanes who is comfortable on the clay courts, but it has become more and more a situation where the better players should have too much for him. It is true that Verdasco has lost his own consistency from day to day, but I do believe he will have enough chances to break the Montanes serve and I think Verdasco will come through 64, 63.

Frank Dancevic + 2.5 games v Ivo Karlovic: He is a veteran these days and his body has a tendency to let him down, but I still think Frank Dancevic can make use of the games being given to him in this Second Round match. While Ivo Karlovic is playing his first match in the tournament, Dancevic has already won three matches in Newport and has the big serve which makes him a threat on the grass.

That should especially be the case when he faces someone who returns as limited as Karlovic does and Dancevic will also hold onto some belief having beaten Karlovic on the grass of Wimbledon just two years ago. That win came in straight sets and Dancevic will believe he can force tie-breakers at the very least in this one which makes this number of games appealing.

It has been a difficult year for Karlovic, who did reach the Final in Newport in 2015, but injuries look to have knocked some confidence. His serve will make Karlovic a threat on the faster surfaces, but if he has lost half a step getting to the net it means the returns can be bunted back into awkward positions from which he is being asked to make his volleys.

Now I am not saying Dancevic is the best returner, but he dealt with the huge Sam Groth serve effectively in a decent run on the grass of Nottingham and I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadian wins this one outright. However, I will take the games because it could easily be decided on two tie-breakers which may go Karlovic's way.

Steve Johnson - 4.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: The grass court campaign has been a strong one for Steve Johnson who made the second week of Wimbledon just days after taking the Nottingham title home. That has seen the American move into a career high 25 in the World Rankings and he will be looking to be one of the Seeds at the US Open in the next few weeks.

Johnson is the Number 1 Seed in the final grass court tournament of the season in Newport and he should be looking to perhaps pick up a second title in the space of a month. There are some big names in the draw at this level, Gilles Muller a big threat in his section, but Steve Johnson has played well enough to think he should have the ability to win the title.

He faces Yuichi Sugita in the Second Round in Newport, a player who has had some mixed results on the grass over the last month. Sugita had an impressive win over Taylor Fritz, but was also beaten by Marcus Willis of Great Britain and Andreas Seppi lost just three games to him in Halle.

On Sugita's two previous visits to Newport, he has been beaten by the same 63, 64 scoreline in the Second Round including last season to Rajeev Ram. You have to think the heavier weight of shot will come from Johnson in this one and that should pressure Sugita as long as the American maintains the momentum he has built up in tournaments in Queens, Nottingham and Wimbledon.

A good serving day should keep the scoreboard pressure on Sugita at least and I think Johnson can come through with a 63, 64 win in this one.

Donald Young - 2.5 games v Stefan Kozlov: The potential that was seen in Donald Young has never really materialised on the main Tour, although he is coming into this one as the Number 8 Seed. Consistency has been a big problem for Young to achieve, but he had a couple of really good wins on the grass courts and looked impressive in dismissing Jared Donaldson in the First Round.

He now takes on another young American in Stefan Kozlov who has won his first main Tour matches over the last month. Kozlov destroyed Benjamin Becker in the First Round and reached the Quarter Final in Hertogenbosch where he did beat Steve Johnson before finding Sam Querrey too good.

At 18 years old there will be some inconsistent results for Kozlov though and Young has to know the best way to exploit a young American with plenty of potential through his own experiences of dealing with that spot.

It might take three sets to see Young exploit that experience, but I think he has a decent chance of covering this number even if this does need a final set decider. The grass hasn't always been Young's favourite surface and he has a chance to play in his first Quarter Final on the surface if he wins this one, but I think he can do that behind a 64, 46, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Pablo Cuevas - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Frank Dancevic + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Donald Young - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-2, + 3.10 Units (12 Units Staked, + 25.83% Yield)

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