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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 14th)

I feel sorry for the tournament organisers in Gstaad with the rain over there severely affecting their event to the point that First Round matches haven't been completed going into Thursday. The schedule begins very early on Thursday to try and get through all of the remaining First Round matches as well as the whole Second Round, but the weather doesn't seem to want to 'play ball' with the organisers and it could be another frustrating day for the spectators.

I was feeling some sort of frustration while watching Nicolas Almagro somehow fail to cover in his match with Paul-Henri Mathieu. It was all Almagro right up until the final two games of the final set when Mathieu somehow came through to beat him and move into the Quarter Final at his expense.

Any one who has watched tennis for a considerable number of years would tell you that Mathieu has to be one those players who is never too far from a mental collapse, but he showed some hardened play when down break point for much of the match.

That might have been a really bother if the rest of the picks hadn't been successful on Wednesday, but fortunately I didn't have a total rubbish day and that has got the week moving in a very positive direction. Now I am hoping the remaining four days can also maintain that at the very least, if not build upon the first three days, as the tournaments begin to wind down and the Davis Cup Quarter Finals are played.

Gastao Elias v Taro Daniel: It won't be often that Gastao Elias and Taro Daniel will be playing for a place in an ATP Quarter Final while facing someone like they will be in this match. Both Elias and Daniel have to believe they can win the match and move on to the Quarter Final and the layers have set it as a pick 'em contest.

I am not sure that should be the case with Elias certainly looking the more comfortable on the clay courts.

The better form might have been coming from the Daniel racquet in recent weeks with a run to the Quarter Final of a Challenger event and beating Horacio Zeballos in the First Round who won a Challenger last week. However it is Elias who has won titles at that level compared with Daniel who has been a little more inconsistent on the clay and I think Elias is going to have a little more experience on the surface which can see him overcome this opponent.

I don't think there will be much between these players, but at the pick 'em prices, I think Elias will have a little too much on the big points and come through.

Sara Errani - 3.5 games v Francesca Schiavone: Two Italian veterans meet in the Second Round in Bucharest and both Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone should be very aware of what the other is going to want to do on the court. They have a similar style with neither player possessing the greatest serve, but instead looking to grind down their opponent in long rallies and that is where I think Errani will have the edge at this point of their careers.

It doesn't surprise me that Errani has won the last two matches these two have played against one another in 2014 and 2015. However this has been a tough season for Errani and that has seen her slip down the World Rankings, while a big surprise has to be the fact that she had lost her last five matches on clay before winning in the First Round here.

On the other hand Schiavone did win a title on the clay in South America earlier this season to put a shine on her record on clay in 2016. She had actually lost four in a row on the surface before coming through the First Round here and I imagine this is going to be a match in which there are a number of breaks of serve.

I do feel that Errani has a little more in the tank than the 36 year old Schiavone and I think that comes out in this match the further along it goes. It will be a tough match for both players who are likely close off the court, but I think Errani comes through 64, 64.

Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 games v Mandy Minella: Only four players have made it through to the Second Round in Gstaad thanks to the awful weather which has affected the event through the first four days. All of the Second Round matches have been scheduled for Thursday, with some players having to play twice on the same day, but at least Timea Bacsinszky and Mandy Minella won't be forced into that spot.

The extra time off for Minella might be a benefit for her to challenge the Number 1 Seed in this Second Round match. She has already come through the Qualifiers and then needed three tight sets to win in the First Round so physically she could be cheering for the rain to just provide a little more rest.

Minella will know there is going to be a lot of chasing she has to get through as Bacsinszky loves playing the drop shot but also has the consistency to extend rallies and wear down opponents. The Swiss player is definitely strong on the clay courts and Minella doesn't have the same performances under her belt on the clay.

I do think the extra consistency for Bacsinszky will be key on a surface where neither player is going to have a lot of free points off the serve. We may have to wait until Friday before these players actually get a chance to get on the court, but I like Bacsinszky showing her extra class and winning this match 63, 63.

Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 games v Sam Groth: World Rankings can quickly change in the tennis world, especially lower down the Rankings as Sam Groth would be the first to tell you. It is only back in August 2015 when Groth hit a career high Ranking, but he has steadily dropped over the last eleven months and is now outside of the top 100 once again.

There isn't much to say about Groth's game outside of having a huge serve which he likes to follow in with volleys. His return game is limited but the scoreboard pressure can tell, although I don't think Adrian Mannarino is really someone who is going to be that affected by playing from behind.

The bigger issue for Mannarino is making sure his serve is not as vulnerable as it can be- he won't want to be chasing this match by offering up break points, but Mannarino did dismiss Groth without too many problems at the Queens Club last month with a strong serving display.

Mannarino had a really difficult First Round win over James Duckworth, a match decided on three tie-breakers, but he didn't serve badly. Against a limited returner like Groth, Mannarino should have more success and I think he moves into the Quarter Final with a 76, 64 win thanks to having the day off on Wednesday to get himself physically ready for this Second Round match.

Gilles Muller - 4.5 games v Victor Estrella Burgos: Victor Estrella Burgos has already upset the odds once in this tournament to get into the Second Round, but it would take a huge upset for him to get past Gilles Muller on Thursday. There is no doubting that Estrella Burgos saves his best form for the clay courts and he is making his first appearance in Newport in his career.

The grass courts have not been that kind to Estrella Burgos who is just 3-7 in his last ten matches on the surface, and his serve can be vulnerable which is hard to recover on a surface like this one.

He will be put under pressure by Gilles Muller who is not the best returner on the Tour, but who can create problems for players by serving big and making opponents feel they are playing catch up. Muller had a disappointing Wimbledon but he did reach the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final in three other grass court events where his serve is a potent weapon.

One concern for Muller backers has to be that he has never won a match at Newport before, but this is a real opportunity for him in a draw that doesn't look the most loaded. However he did see off Estrella Burgos comfortably enough in Indian Wells earlier this season and Muller's comfort on the grass courts can lead to a 64, 63 win in this one.

Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 games v Dudi Sela: I have to say I have been impressed with the wins that both Marcos Baghdatis and Dudi Sela have put together so far on their way through to the Quarter Final. Baghdatis has only had the one match in Newport, but dismissed Brian Baker without too many concerns, while Sela's straight set wins over Lukas Lacko and defending Champion Rajeev Ram has to be respected.

Now they meet for a place in the Semi Final at an open event and I think Baghdatis has more comfort on the grass which will help him past the Israeli.

I can't imagine it will be easy because Sela has plenty of talent in his racquet, although the serve remains a vulnerable part of his game. He will certainly put Baghdatis under pressure in the rallies and will have his chances to break the serve, but Sela will have to serve much better to keep the Cypriot at bay in this one.

Sela has experience playing in a couple of previous Quarter Finals in Newport, but he has fallen short in those outings and I think Baghdatis is the better grass court player. After a few breaks of serve for both players, I believe Baghdatis wins enough of the big points to come through 75, 64 in this one.

MY PICKS: Gastao Elias @ 2.00 Coral (2 Units)
Sara Errani - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-3, + 10.78 Units (24 Units Staked, + 44.92% Yield)

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