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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 16th)

It looks like me and the Davis Cup just simply didn't agree with one another on Friday as all four of my picks from that tournament which were completed came back as losing ones.

The most irritating has to be Marin Cilic blowing a two sets lead for the second time in a row in his defeat to Jack Sock, while the Janko Tipsarevic pick was simply a poor one from start to finish.

Those Davis Cups ruined what was looking a strong day, but at least the week's totals are still intact going into the final couple of days of tournaments this week.

One piece of news that might have gone under the radar for some of the casual fans is the latest entrants to the Hall of Fame. Marat Safin was one of my favourite players on the Tour not only for his skill, but the charismatic Russian was always a joy to watch as you simply didn't know what kind of mood he was going to be in.

A two time Grand Slam Champion, Safin will be entering the Hall of Fame on Saturday and I am looking forward to reading his speech as he rightly takes his place amongst the greats of the game.

It is Semi Final day in Bastad, Bucharest, Hamburg and Newport while the tournament in Gstaad will see plenty of tennis played as both Quarter Final and Semi Final Rounds are played on the same day.

Hopefully it will be a better Saturday than Friday was for the picks going into these final couple of days of this latest week on the Tour.

Pablo Cuevas - 5.5 games v Renzo Olivo: There might be a big difference in terms of the World Rankings between these two South American players, but both have shown considerable form in Hamburg so far this week. A run to the Semi Final is going to give Renzo Olivo a huge boost in terms of his World Ranking, but it should also have given him the confidence to challenge Pablo Cuevas who has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

I have to say I have been impressed with the resolve Olivo has shown so far this week- he came back from dropping the second set 62 to Mikhail Youzhny to win that First Round match and recovered from dropping the first set 61 to Philipp Kohlschreiber in his Quarter Final win over the home favourite.

That resolve will be tested to the fullest by Cuevas who has won his three matches with some margin of error. Cuevas has won a couple of clay court titles already this season and is in line to break his career high World Ranking of Number 21 if he can go on and win the title in Hamburg, while the Uruguayan has dropped just 19 games in three Rounds this week.

Cuevas has dominated the last two matches these two have competed against one another, although the last of those came back in 2014. He is a much stronger player these days and is serving brilliantly so far this week and Olivo has struggled to really get himself into a position to compete at this level consistently. After a tight first set, I think Cuevas can take full control of this match with a 64, 62 win.

David Ferrer - 3.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: David Ferrer did his best to almost blow a very winnable Quarter Final against Dustin Brown, but he knuckled down at just the right time to move into another Semi Final in Bastad. The veteran Spaniard will have to be better if he is going to improve his 6-0 record against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Ramos-Vinolas had a tougher than expected win on Friday in his own Quarter Final and the key for him is to get over the mental barrier of facing someone like Ferrer. There always seems to be a 'pecking order' when it comes to players meeting others from their own nation and Ramos-Vinolas will be mentally behind in this one having lost all previous matches against Ferrer.

His lefty serve can be very effective at times, but Ramos-Vinolas is not blessed with the power of some others on the Tour which means he has to work hard to win every point. That can be a really tough proposition against a player like Ferrer who has thrived on being able to grind down opponents throughout his career, even if there is little doubt that Ferrer is coming to the end of his top level career in my opinion.

Covering this number of games is anything but straight-forward for Ferrer, but I do think he is more likely to win a set with a double break which can give him a chance to do that. Even in a three set win, as he did in Rio de Janeiro earlier this season, Ferrer will then have a chance to get past this number and I will back him to do that.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Gastao Elias: This has been a good week to back Fernando Verdasco who has won all three matches he has played very comfortably on the scoreboard. The Spaniard has only dropped thirteen games overall in those three wins and he has been covering his handicaps easily enough, while I have been behind him in every Round.

This initially did feel it could be a big number against Gastao Elias who surprised Joao Sousa in the Quarter Final for the loss of just four games. However Elias generally doesn't play at the highest level and he was a little fortunate to get the better of Taro Daniel in the Second Round, while there can be little doubt that Verdasco is the toughest challenge he would have faced in the form the latter is in.

Verdasco's power can make him a big threat to anyone when on his 'A' game, but he might not even have needed to reach that level in a weak field. The expectation will be that he plays in the Final now and I think Verdasco has the kind of firepower that will push and prod Elias around the court.

The key for Verdasco will be to have success against the Elias second serve, but he will also believe he can get involved in many return games simply by getting the ball back into play. He won't feel Elias has the power to run him off the court and Verdasco will be tough to stop if he continues serving at the same level he has produced so far this week.

It could be the most games he drops in a single match this week, but Verdasco is my pick to cover this number behind a 64, 63 win.

Marcos Baghdatis v Ivo Karlovic: This looks an interesting Semi Final in Newport and I would imagine the winning player will be the favourite to win the title on Sunday. The layers have set Marcos Baghdatis as a slight underdog against Ivo Karlovic, but I think that might be wrong and I like the Cypriot to get past the big server in this one.

Baghdatis has looked the stronger player this week, but the key for him will be to avoid becoming too frustrated if Karlovic is serving big, which has to be expected. He was beaten by John Isner at Wimbledon, but Baghdatis has beaten Karlovic in three of four previous matches and that should give him a little more confidence he can get past his opponent.

This has been a tough season for Karlovic and he has yet to face someone with the quality that Baghdatis can bring to the court. Karlovic could easily have been beaten by Frank Dancevic in the Second Round and Marco Chiudinelli is not the same level as Baghdatis who has won his two matches very comfortably so far.

I wouldn't hold my breath looking for a lot of rallies in this one, and Baghdatis has to be careful that he doesn't allow Karlovic to see too many second serves. It will come down to a couple of big points here and there to decide the winner, but I am not convinced Baghdatis should have been the underdog to do that and I will back the Cypriot to reach the Final.

Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 games v Johanna Larsson: It has been an awful tournament in Gstaad in terms of weather and that means players will be playing Quarter Final and Semi Final matches on Saturday. That might mean motivation is perhaps lacking in some players, but you can't use that as an excuse for the Number 1 Seed and Swiss favourite Timea Bacsinszky.

She has looked good so far in the tournament with back to back wins coming by wide margins and Bacsinszky will believe she can get the better of Johanna Larsson, a player she has beaten three previous times. That includes beating her on the clay courts earlier this season and the form displayed by Bacsinszky so far in Gstaad makes it tough to think she will be stopped in this Quarter Final.

I do respect Larsson who perhaps has underachieved a little bit considering she has a pretty decent serve for the WTA Tour. A lot of her more positive results have also come on the clay courts, but errors can be extracted from Larsson on her groundstrokes which is an area in which Bacsinszky thrives.

I expect that to make the difference in this Quarter Final and I can see the match potentially running away from Larsson once she falls behind. I will be looking for Bacsinszky to come through with a 64, 62 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Pablo Cuevas - 5.5 Games @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Marcos  Baghdatis @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 21-11, + 15.42 Units (64 Units Staked, + 24.09% Yield)

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