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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 21st)

The Canadian Masters and Premier Event are being played next week rather than in August and the timing of the event has seen a number of the big names decide to pull out of the event. While many of the top Singles players will be taking part at the Olympic Games, others have decided that this change in their usual schedule is not worth undertaking and the event, particularly the ATP event, has taken a big hit in star power.

The likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have pulled out all citing they need more time to recover physically from Wimbledon/wrist injury and much of that has to be have been affected by this tournament moving forward at least two weeks.

Others have followed suit although notably not Novak Djokovic (not yet anyway) and I think the Toronto Masters now looks a big chance for someone to pick up some huge Ranking points and perhaps the biggest title of their career.

Thursday will see a number of tennis matches played across the seven tournaments being played this week and we are beginning to get to the business end of events. It is the final non-hard court events on the main Tour for the rest of the season and the run to the US Open will begin next week in Canada and take in a number of stops on the road to New York at the end of August.

Robin Haase - 1.5 games v Horacio Zeballos: It might be Horacio Zeballos who is Ranked higher than Robin Haase, but I think the Dutchman is rightly considered the favourite in this Gstaad Second Round match.

Both players have come through their First Round match relatively comfortably and some may look to the underdog considering how well Zeballos has played on the clay courts at the Challenger level. In recent weeks Zeballos has won two Challenger events on this surface and reached the Final in another, but he has not been able to turn that success into wins on the main Tour.

Zeballos did play well in reaching the Second Round at this tournament last season, coming through the Qualifiers to get to that Round. However you have to wonder if he has the consistency to play at the highest level even if he is playing against an opponent that is far from consistent and capable of throwing in an absolute stinker of a match when not expecting him to do so.

2016 has been a tough season for Haase who is in danger of slipping out of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but a strong end to this tournament will get him moving in the right direction. Haase has had some disappointing losses on the clay this season, but the summer months have seen him produce his best tennis and he could be in line for another strong run in this tournament.

I don't think this will be easy and I wouldn't be surprised to see some twists and turns through the match, but I do think Haase is capable of winning this one 64, 36, 63.

Johanna Larsson - 3.5 games v Sara Sorribes Tormo: The Second Round match between Johanna Larsson and Sara Sorribes Tormo will be played in Bastad on Thursday. While Larsson came through her First Round match without too much fuss, Sorribes Tormo had to play three sets in her own First Round encounter after coming through two Qualifiers before that.

The young Spaniard has won a couple of titles at the levels below the WTA Tour and she will clearly favour clay with much of her life seeing her play on this surface. That will make Sorribes Tormo a threat, but she has yet to turn her successful results into deep, positive runs on the main Tour.

Last week it took Timea Bacsinszky to stop Sorribes Tormo's run, and the same player beat Larsson in the Quarter Final. It was a poor serving display from Larsson in that one, but that is one of her big weapons especially the kick she can get out of it, while being at home has proven to be a positive experience in the past.

Larsson won the title here last season without dropping a set and that was after twice previously being a losing Finalist in Bastad. Her game seems to work here and the motivation of playing in front of her home supporters clearly keeps her focused and I think Larsson can use all of her experience to get the better of Sorribes Tormo here too.

As long as she serves well, I think Larsson will have chances to break the Sorribes Tormo serve and come through this one 64, 64.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Lara Arruabarrena: There are times when I have to question the scheduling players have and this is one of those times after seeing Angelique Kerber in the draw. I am not entirely sure what has motivated the Australian Open Champion to take in another clay court tournament in a season where just 6 of her 35 wins have come on the surface, but now she is here I would expect a full effort.

Anything less will mean Kerber is going out of the tournament in the Second Round against Lara Arruabarrena. The latter might be Number 98 in the World Rankings, but Arruabarrena has had her best results on the clay and would have another winning record in a single season on this surface if she can win this match.

Some of the defeats have been disappointing for Arruabarrena and she has been beaten in all three previous matches against Kerber. That includes a tight three set defeat in Charleston earlier this season, but you can't ignore the fact that Kerber had lost four in a row on the clay courts outdoors, even if she did win the title in Stuttgart on an indoor clay court.

Motivation is a concern when backing Kerber this week, but she showed enough in coming back from a set down to beat Cornelia Lister in the First Round. This won't be an easy match for her in any shape or form against a clay court specialist, but I think Kerber can battle through for a 46, 62, 64 win.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Bethanie Mattek-Sands: This is a big match for two players who have perhaps slipped further down the World Rankings than they would like to see. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is hoping to improve her own Ranking to ensure she can earn a direct entry into the US Open played next month, while Julia Goerges has to feel she is much better than her current Number 73 in the World Ranking.

I think Mattek-Sands was fortunate with the draw when meeting Kiki Bertens who reached the Final in a rain hit Gstaad last week. A lot of her matches were played in a short period of time at the end of the rain affected week which would have sapped physical strength as Bertens got through to the Final and I do think the American took advantage of that.

It is a big win and Mattek-Sands is capable of producing some big time tennis when she is in her best form. She will need all of that to beat Goerges in this Second Round match as the latter is the superior clay court player and can match the power that Mattek-Sands will bring to the court.

Goerges will again need to serve well and make sure she remains mentally focused when things are not going completely her way. Keeping unforced errors down and working Mattek-Sands around is important if she is to make it three wins in a row against the American, but I like Goerges' chances to do that.

The German did beat Mattek-Sands in straight sets earlier this season in Rome and I think she can match that with a 75, 64 win.

Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 games v Nicole Gibbs: Two American players meet in the Second Round in Stanford in the final match of the day and it is Coco Vandeweghe who is a healthy favourite against Nicole Gibbs. I can't disagree with that even if Gibbs is in the midst of her best season on the Tour.

As well as Gibbs has played at times, her serve remains very vulnerable and that has seen her defeats come by wide margins. In her six defeats on the hard courts this season, Gibbs' opponents would have covered this number four times and Coco Vandeweghe has the kind of firepower that will cause her a few problems.

That will only be amplified if Vandeweghe is serving as well as she can and the pressure on Gibbs will come from the other side of the court and the scoreboard. It will be tough to ignore that on the faster surfaces where one break could be enough for someone like Vandeweghe to take the set and she can be a strong front runner as confidence builds.

My one concern for Vandeweghe has to be the poor run she had on the North American courts at this time last year and she can be a little loose when the break points come her way. However I think she will create enough chances to win this one 63, 64 and move into the Quarter Finals to be played on Friday.

Steve Johnson - 3.5 games v Ryan Harrison: One of the in-form players on the Tour is Steve Johnson who made a strong start to his hard court season with a convincing win over Adrian Mannarino. He should expect a much stronger challenge from Ryan Harrison, even if the latter is Number 158 in the World Rankings.

Harrison has really struggled for consistency since his breakout year on the Tour in 2012 and the majority of his time is spent on the Challenger circuit these days. However Harrison still has a pretty big serve and can play some strong stuff on the hard courts which makes him a dangerous opponent despite what the World Ranking may indicate.

He has already won three matches here in Washington having come through the Qualifiers and Harrison certainly has an ability to steal sets off of his opponents on the hard courts even if he ultimately comes up short in the match. It has to be a concern in backing Steve Johnson who might be full of confidence, but who has a losing record on the hard courts this season.

Johnson did reach the Semi Final in Washington last season and will be looking to match that performance to make sure he keeps his Ranking high enough to be Seeded at his home Grand Slam next month. The higher Ranked American in this contest has certainly been serving very well and I think he can get the better of Harrison in this one although it is likely to be in two competitive sets as I look for Johnson to come through 76, 63.

Jack Sock - 3.5 games v Daniel Evans: Most of the players left in the men's draw in Washington are Seeded players, but part of the reason we haven't seen a clean sweep is because of Daniel Evans. The British player was a deserving winner over an out of form Grigor Dimitrov in the last Round and he will be looking to back that up when he faces Jack Sock on Thursday.

A place in the Quarter Final is at stake and it would be a huge boost for Evans in terms of his World Ranking which was at a career high just last week. He is still inside the top 100 and Evans will be looking to keep that Ranking trending in the right direction, but the win over Dimitrov might make him a little over-rated in this one.

There is no doubting that Jack Sock has plenty of room for improvement including backing up his serve more effectively than he does and improving his return game. However the American does have some heavy groundstrokes, particularly the forehand wing, and Sock will be looking for a run that could potentially see him move inside the top 20 in the World Rankings.

Sock had a tough win over Lukas Lacko in the last Round and the next few weeks present him a real chance to put up some big Ranking points with nothing much to defend. He did reach the Quarter Final in Washington last season and Evans hasn't played too many matches at this level over the last few seasons. I respect how well he played to see off Dimitrov, but Sock should be a much more confident player and can win this one 76, 63.

John Isner - 2.5 games v Marcos Baghdatis: At Wimbledon, John Isner made it seven straight wins over Marcos Baghdatis and I think the American will have his chances to make it eight in a row on Thursday. His serve will always give him a chance to win matches, but the key to this one is that Baghdatis is likely to throw in a cheap service game or two which can be difficult to retrieve on the faster hard courts.

Their match at Wimbledon was close, but I do think Baghdatis is more comfortable on the grass than Isner, whereas the hard courts are much more to Isner's liking. Both players performed well to win their Second Round matches on Wednesday, but this is a step up in competition for both and the mental edge has to be given to Isner considering their previous head to head match ups.

When Baghdatis builds up some momentum he can be tough to stop, but there are plenty of early exits on the hard courts that the Cypriot has experienced over the last few seasons. Too many second serves gives players a chance to have a real swing against him and Baghdatis has to be mentally right at the races to stay with Isner in this one.

The Davis Cup loss to Marin Cilic was a big disappointment for Isner but he has an easier way to get over those mental blows with his serve being a huge weapon on the hard courts. He might need a tie-breaker to win the first set, but I think Isner will then have a few chances against the Baghdatis serve as tiredness and scoreboard pressure build up which will lead to a 76, 64 win for the Number 1 Seed.

Sam Querrey - 1.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: One of the most frustrating players on the Tour has to be Alexandr Dolgopolov who has all the talent, but rarely makes the right shot selection. He looks like a player that simply goes out on the court and will play his own way regardless of whether it is the right tactic for the day and Dolgopolov will take his chances whether he wins or loses.

I don't know if it matters to him so much if he doesn't win and so it can be hard to know what exactly you are going to see from the Dolgopolov racquet on any given day.

That is not the case with Sam Querrey who will look to dominate behind a big serve and heavy forehand wherever possible. The win over Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon has raised his stock, but it is important for Querrey to back that up over the next few weeks on what should be his favoured hard courts.

Querrey has had an inconsistent year on the hard courts with early losses in Indian Wells and Miami, but winning a title in Delray Beach. He doesn't have a lot of points to defend over the next few weeks which will give him a chance to really improve his Number 29 position in the World Rankings and the American has won his last three matches against Dolgopolov including both matches last season.

I just believe Querrey won't be as erratic as Dolgopolov who had success at this stage of the Tour last year but who has been very inconsistent through 2016. It should be an interesting match while it lasts but I think Querrey can come through and cover this number.

MY PICKS: Robin Haase - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
John Isner - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Querrey - 1.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-9, - 7.66 Units (30 Units Staked, - 25.53% Yield)

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