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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 19th)

There were plenty of matches being played on Monday but not a lot of angles that I wanted to be involved in, or not many I would have wanted to play with any confidence.

On Tuesday there are another huge round of matches from the events being played in Europe, but once again it looks a difficult day to make picks unless the schedule from the three events in North America are much more appealing.

Nicolas Almagro - 3.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: It was all about representing his country in the Davis Cup last week for Damir Dzumhur who will be playing at the Olympic Games for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It might be a little strange for him not to make the move to the hard courts in preparation for the Olympic Games, especially as Dzumhur has played well on that surface.

The feeling is that Dzumhur probably feels he doesn't have to have the same expenses staying in Europe playing on the clay rather than moving to the United States after playing on Sunday. He will also have to be respected on this surface considering some of his performances on the clay earlier this season, but some of the losses show the limitations he has.

Without a big serve, Dzumhur simply doesn't win a lot of points easily and that is an area Nicolas Almagro should have an edge. However the Spaniard is not as consistent as he used to be, even on the clay courts, and that was shown in his defeat to Paul-Henri Mathieu last week in Hamburg.

However Almagro dominated that match and should really have got it done against the veteran Frenchman. His best results still come on the clay and having a little more power behind the groundstrokes should help Almagro eventually come through 46, 63, 63.

Albert Montanes - 1.5 games v Gerald Melzer: Albert Montanes is a veteran of the Tour these days and his best results do come on the Challenger circuit, but the clay remains his favourite surface and he has performed well on the main Tour when getting into those draws.

There has been one Semi Final and a run to the Last 16 in another tournament this season and Montanes is going up against an opponent who spends the vast majority of his time in draws outside of the main Tour. Gerald Melzer is going to have the support of the home crowd, but he is yet to win a match on the main Tour this season and is 0-3 on the clay.

However Melzer has to be respected for the results he has achieved at the lower level which makes him a threat to Montanes. Both players will believe this is the perfect First Round match for them as they will be accustomed to the level of tennis they will face, but Montanes holds the slight edge for me.

The lefty serve and the fact that Melzer has won a couple of titles in Challenger events on the clay makes him a danger. It has to be noted that those title wins came very early in 2016 and recent form has not been as strong and I think Montanes will be able to hold a narrow edge in the extended rallies which can help him come through in three sets.

Julia Goerges - 2.5 games v Polona Hercog: Julia Goerge was defeated early in Gstaad last week but she wasn't helped by the poor weather which meant playing back to back matches in the same day while her opponent was well rested. The performance in the First Round was encouraging, but Goerges has to find a little more consistency to get her moving back up the World Ranking.

This week she goes to Bastad and will be expected to beat Polona Hercog even though the latter reached the Quarter Final in Bucharest last week. However it was Goerges who got the better of Hercog when these players met on the clay in Rome earlier this year and she will feel she holds the power advantage in this one.

The question mark around the Goerges game is always about how well she is going to serve on a given day and whether she can get a grip on the unforced errors she is likely to make. The clay courts should also give the German the advantage in this one with Hercog struggling outside of her solid run in Bucharest, although it looks like she simply might have a liking for that tournament having reached the Semi Final in 2015.

While Goerges might have some confidence issues, she still has to be in a stronger place than Hercog and I think that will lead her to a 64, 64 win in this First Round match.

Jelena Ostapenko - 3.5 games v Catherine Bellis: Jelena Ostapenko comes into the Stanford tournament as the Number 6 Seed and she will meet an American Wild Card, Catherine Bellis, in the First Round. This won't be an easy match for the Seeded player as Bellis has been playing in a number of hard court tournaments over the last few weeks compared with Ostapenko who will be coming in off the grass courts.

Bellis has played well too, albeit at a lower level than the tournament in Stanford will be. She has won a title and reached the Semi Final of another tournament on the hard courts which will have given her confidence, but none of those wins are against players that regularly play at this level as Ostapenko does.

They did meet last year in the US Open Qualifiers which resulted in a straight sets win for Ostapenko, but Bellis might have improved for her experiences over the last eleven months. However I still think she is growing and the young American might not be fully ready to beat someone with the potential Ostapenko has shown.

The one element that might be to Bellis' favour is that Ostapenko has not had a really strong year on the hard courts outside of her one deep run to the Final in Doha. Take that away and Ostapenko is just 1-3 on the hard courts and she has lost three straight matches on this surface. Both players should have their chances in this one too, but ultimately I think Ostapenko is in a stronger place in her career at this moment and can win 64, 64.

Eugenie Bouchard - 3.5 games v Camila Giorgi: There have been some signs that Eugenie Bouchard is beginning to rediscover some consistency in her game. After a breakthrough year on the Tour which featured a number of strong runs in the Grand Slam events, Bouchard has already doubled the number of wins on Tour than she achieved in 2015.

There is still room for improvement as she begins moving back towards the top 32 in the World Rankings which will have her Seeded for the US Open. A strong run in Washington will give her a chance to do that and the Canadian has put her best results together on the hard courts this season.

Bouchard has reached a couple of Finals on hard courts in 2016 without bringing a title home, but she should be confident she can beat an inconsistent Camila Giorgi who had a poor grass court season. The last two matches between these players have resulted in a couple of wins for Bouchard including in straight sets in Hobart earlier this season.

Giorgi has had some tough draws on the hard courts this season, but even then she is only 14-18 over the last couple of years. If she serves as well as she can, Giorgi will be a big threat to Bouchard, but the latter should have enough success against that shot to extract errors from the Italian's game.

Both players should earn their break point chances, but I think Bouchard will be a little more solid at the big moments considering the recent form of both players. The hard courts should be much more to Bouchard's liking and I like her to come through 75, 64.

Donald Young - 3.5 games v Ernesto Escobedo: These days Donald Young is no longer the upcoming star of American's tennis, but instead a veteran of the Tour who has not achieved the stardom that many expected for him. He is a solid player who can put together really good tournaments, but Young is also capable of throwing in a terrible match against any player he faces, even those he would usually be expected to beat.

Young is coming off the grass courts where he reached the Quarter Final last week in Newport, and that is where Ernesto Escobedo will look to take advantage with his knowledge of the conditions here.

Escobedo has come through two Qualifiers without dropping a set but he is still trying to find his way on the professional circuit. This will be the first match he has played on the hard courts in a main ATP Tour event and Escobedo will have to improve his performances to challenge players at this level with his results on the hard courts at Challenger and Future level a little inconsistent.

 A player like Young should be able to expose the inconsistencies as long as he is not giving up a boatload of unforced errors and I think the older American will find his way to break point opportunities. It might take a couple of twists and turns to get to the end, but Young should use all of his experience to help him through to a 64, 64 win in this one.

Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 games v Daniel Evans: Last week saw Daniel Evans pull out of the Davis Cup tie for Great Britain with a shoulder issue, but he looked very good in the First Round when dismissing Benjamin Becker very comfortably. Things should be tougher in the Second Round in Washington when Evans faces Grigor Dimitrov, although the latter has been having trouble getting out of a slump in form which has lasted at least twelve months.

That has seen the Dimitrov World Ranking drop to 40 and he is coming off underwhelming clay and grass court season. Being back on the hard courts will suit the Bulgarian as 14 of his 20 wins in 2016 have come on the surface and the next few weeks will be important for Dimitrov as he doesn't have a lot of points to defend and can start moving the right way in the World Rankings.

Dimitrov can't underestimate Evans having played a tight three setter against him on the grass courts a few seasons ago. However he will feel he can get into the Evans service games which will give Dimitrov a chance to dominate the rallies when having the chance to play first strike tennis, although the lack of confidence means unforced errors are likely to be flowing at times too.

I do think Dimitrov has the edge when it comes to the serve and the general power off the ground. A lot of this match is going to do with how Dimitrov copes mentally through his recent form, but I think the hard courts will suit him. Evans had a very strong run on the Challenger Tour at this time last year, but this is a different level for him and I think Dimitrov is able to come through with a 63, 64 win.

Steve Johnson - 2.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: This is a career high Ranking for Steve Johnson after a very successful run on the grass courts over the last month, but he will be looking to kick on back on the North American hard courts. This should be a really strong time of the year for Johnson and he should turn around what has been an inconsistent season on the surface up to now because of the increase in confidence.

He will need all of that confidence against Adrian Mannarino who has the tendency to make players perform at a lower level than they have been with his ability to get plenty of balls back in play. The Mannarino service is still a weakness which can be exploited on the faster surfaces but he has had some decent results on the hard courts which includes beating Sam Querrey.

On the other hand, Mannarino did go 1-4 in North America on the hard courts at this time last year and he was 4-3 the year before which suggests it might not be his favoured time of the year. His lefty serve can cause some problems, but Johnson has to believe he can get plenty of balls back and pressure Mannarino with his serve if he is getting plenty of firsts in play.

Their two previous matches have both gone the distance with one win apiece, the most recent coming just last month when Johnson beat Mannarino at Queens. The underdog has won both matches which might concern me a little, but I am looking for Johnson to frank his win with another here and move past Mannarino 63, 36, 63.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Almagro - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Albert Montanes - 1.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Jelena Ostapenko - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Eugenie Bouchard - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Donald Young - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.18 Units (4 Units Staked, - 4.5% Yield)

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