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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 17th)

Another week on the Tour is almost completed as we get to see the Finals from Bastad, Bucharest, Hamburg, Gstaad and Newport all played on Sunday.

The Davis Cup Quarter Finals are also completed on Sunday and all four ties are still alive going into the final day. That means there are some big Singles Rubbers to be played in the four locations those Quarter Finals are being played and the potential of seeing players have to get through a Rubber 5 match is going to be fun to watch.

The picks have had a second successful set of tournaments in a row following on from a strong Wimbledon, but I need to build on this through the remainder of the season. That consistency has not been with me over the last twelve months and I also have to be careful Sunday doesn't ruin what has been a strong week so far with the remaining picks for these tournaments.

Pablo Cuevas - 3.5 games v Martin Klizan: It was another match where Pablo Cuevas did not drop serve, but he failed to cover the handicap for me in his Semi Final win over Renzo Olivo. However I liked the fact that Cuevas created as many chances to break serve as he did and I think he is in the kind of form which will make it difficult for Martin Klizan to get the better of him.

Injuries have affected the Klizan season, but I am never really fully convinced about this player. He has a very good serve, but Klizan seems to go walkabout mentally in matches and that will be exposed by someone like Cuevas who seems to be much more steady with his form within matches.

This week has been a strong one for Klizan who has won the last seven sets he has competed in, although I have to say he has been favoured by the draw. Klizan has beaten Daniel Gimeno Traver and Stephane Robert in the last two Rounds after both of those players came through tough matches prior to facing the Slovakian. That has been a big bonus for Klizan who went 1-3 on the clay courts at this time of the year in 2015 and who faces his most difficult opponent of the week.

I think Cuevas will have an edge in the Final as he has played better on the clay than his opponent and doesn't have the same fluctuations in form as Klizan does. If he continues serving as he has been, I think Cuevas comes through with a 75, 64 win and I will back him to cover this handicap on the way to picking up another clay court title in 2016.

Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: The two Semi Final matches in Bastad had to be played simultaneously thanks to the poor weather in the area, but the title will once again be won by a Spaniard. Albert Ramos-Vinolas beat David Ferrer in the Semi Final to snap his run of six losses to his compatriot, but this might be the tougher match at this point with Fernando Verdasco showing his top form on his run to the Final.

After recovering an early break in his own Semi Final, Verdasco dominated Gastao Elias and none of the players he has faced so far this week have managed to take more than three games in a single set against him. While saying that, it has to be noted that is easily the most difficult match Verdasco will have faced in Bastad.

It is strange to see Ramos-Vinolas coming in as the higher Ranked player, but there is no doubting the respect Verdasco will offer him as the former reached the Quarter Final at the French Open. The key for Ramos-Vinolas will be dealing with the power that Verdasco has, while the latter is also very strong when facing fellow lefties on the Tour.

These moments have become much rarer for Verdasco than a few years ago, but I have to think he has to be backed to overcome Ramos-Vinolas. I feel Verdasco has been playing some of his best tennis this week and he used his momentum to win one title in Bucharest earlier in the season and his current momentum will make it difficult for Ramos-Vinolas to stop him.

After a close first set, I think Verdasco will earn a little more belief and win this title with a 75, 64 win.

Gilles Muller v Ivo Karlovic: There is going to be a couple of mental hurdles for Gilles Muller to overcome in the Newport Final, but doing that will give him a chance to win his first ever title on the main Tour. The first is dealing with the Ivo Karlovic serve which can be frustrating at the best of times and the second is overcoming any nerves in trying to win a first main Tour title.

Muller will have recent experience of playing in a Final having reached that position on the grass in Hertogenbosch last month having beaten Karlovic on the way through. His serve was very impressive that day and Muller will need to serve well as he won't have a lot of chances to break serve in this one himself.

Tie-breakers are likely to be the order of the day, but Muller's lefty serve can give him an advantage when it comes to securing points behind serve. That shot naturally goes into the weaker Karlovic wing and the key for both players might be getting off the first shot when they do see any second serves.

Both players have admitted that there is little between them and a few big points will decide the match. However I like the underdog Muller in terms of recent form and I will back him to win his first title at odds against.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Federico Delbonis: Fabio Fognini played twice on Saturday, winning the Singles Rubber but taking part in the Doubles defeat later in the day. That means the pressure is on Fognini to keep Italy in the tie and force a final Rubber to decide the Semi Final place, but he has thrived in Davis Cup action representing his country.

The destruction of Juan Monaco on Saturday had much to do with Fognini's opponent playing far below the level he usually produces. However that has improved Fognini's Davis Cup record as he gets set for a much more difficult task in beating Federico Delbonis who has a 2-1 head to head advantage over him on the clay courts.

Delbonis played very well in beating Andreas Seppi on Friday and he will be well rested as he looks to secure Argentina's place in the Semi Finals. His lefty serve is a real threat on the clay courts, but managing the crowd will be a difficulty for him despite winning his first away Rubber in the Davis Cup on Friday.

I definitely think this will be a lot closer than Fognini's win over Monaco, but I still think the home favourite can come through. Andreas Seppi wasn't totally at the races in his defeat to Delbonis on Friday, but he came close to getting into a commanding position in that match and I think Fognini will be a little better in a 63, 36, 63, 76 win.

Dusan Lajovic-Kyle Edmund over 38.5 games: This could be the crucial Rubber for Great Britain if they want to continue the defence of the Davis Cup they won last season with the pressure piled on Kyle Edmund to get it done. The performance of James Ward in his Singles defeat on Saturday doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that he can turn that around against Janko Tipsarevic and so Great Britain will be looking at Edmund.

This is going to be a much tougher test for Edmund when he faces Dusan Lajovic who was convincingly better than Ward on Saturday. His best performances come on the clay courts and Lajovic has had some top wins on the surface while also pushing Stan Wawrinka to four sets in a defeat to him in the Second Round of the French Open that Wawrinka eventually won.

Lajovic looked to have plenty of variation in his game on Saturday and the backhand down the line looked very good. However the power looks like it will come from the Edmund side of the court and this looks a fascinating Rubber 4 that has plenty on the line for both nations.

I would be surprised if either player has as 'easy' a time as they did in their first Singles wins. With both Lajovic and Edmund comfortable on the clay courts I am fully expecting this to go at least four sets and it might even develop into a classic five setter. Either way I am looking for the players to combine to cover the total games market and we might also potentially see a final Rubber to decide the winner of the tie.

Marin Cilic - 1.5 games v John Isner: It won't be many times in a players career that they would have lost back to back five set matches while leading 2-0 in sets. That is what Marin Cilic has to deal with, but helping Ivan Dodig win the Doubles Rubber in this Davis Cup tie on Saturday has kept Croatia alive and I think Cilic can get the better of John Isner in this big Rubber 4.

That would bring Croatia back to 2-2 in the tie, although Cilic's defeat to Jack Sock has to have left some mental scars after he blew his chances to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Cilic didn't serve well enough in the match with Sock and failing to do better in that department will make it almost impossible to beat a huge server like John Isner who won't give up too many chances on his own serve.

Isner will have some sympathy for Cilic having also been beaten at Wimbledon despite taking the first two sets against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He at least bounced back by beating Borna Coric comfortably in this tie and Isner was rested for the Doubles which would have been expected to be the last Rubber as the USA can call upon the Bryan Brothers.

He will have his own mental demons to cope with as Isner has lost all five previous matches against Cilic. Those losses include straight set losses in the United States in Miami and Delray Beach, but the two Grand Slam matches have both gone the distance and needed at least sixteen games in the final set to separate them.

I can't imagine this being an easy win for either player, but Cilic can use the fact he has beaten Isner every time they have met to his favour. Even at two sets up it won't be easy for Cilic having blown his last two Singles matches from that position, but I like him keeping this tie alive for the final Rubber.

Jack Sock - 5.5 games v Borna Coric: This final Rubber will only be played if Marin Cilic has been able to beat John Isner like I think he will and that will mean the pressure is on the two young players in the United States and Croatia squads.

I have to say that Jack Sock showed tremendous resolve in coming back from two sets down to beat Cilic on Friday and it is the kind of performance that can jump start his career. However the full effect of that win will only be felt if Sock is able to complete the win for the United States and that is a different kind of pressure for him to deal with as he will be expected to win the match.

He is facing a very talented player in Borna Coric but one who has struggled for consistency on what is a long season on the Tour. Since his run to the Final in Chennai at the start of the season, Coric has had a hard time earning results on the hard courts as his serve can be a little inconsistent which can be devastating on the faster surfaces.

Coric was beaten fairly handily by John Isner on Friday and I think Sock can give him plenty of problems too. Sock will have to serve better than he did in his win over Cilic, particularly the way he served in the first two sets, but I think the American can bring it home for his nation in a 64, 76, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Pablo Cuevas - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic-Kyle Edmund Over 38.5 Total Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 23-14, + 13.42 Units (74 Units Staked, + 18.14% Yield)

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