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Friday, 22 July 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (July 22nd)

The first couple of days of this week were pretty poor, but there has been some kind of recovery in the last couple of days.

At the time of writing this post, I still have two picks running from Washington and Stanford and if both of those come in I should be very close to getting this week back into the positive.

In the mean time I have started making my picks from the matches to be played on Friday when the Quarter Finals take over in the majority of the tournaments, although Kitzbuhel has already gotten to the Semi Final Round of that event.

Fabio Fognini - 3.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: Damir Dzumhur has beaten one Italian already this week, but now he takes on the best player from that nation on the ATP Tour in Fabio Fognini. There will be a revenge element in play for Dzumhur who was beaten in straight sets by Fognini last year in Umag in a Second Round match, although there is more on the line this time around with a Semi Final berth awaiting the winner.

I wasn't sure how Fognini was going to react to losing Rubber 4 in the Davis Cup Quarter Final on Sunday, although it has to be noted he looked the better player for much of that defeat to Federico Delbonis. I think he was struggling physically, but he should be well rested by Friday having needed to win just one match to get to this Quarter Final.

It has been a disappointing season for Fognini on the clay courts and he still has a losing record on the surface going into this match. That is in contrast to Dzumhur who has a winning record even though he has had to come through Qualifiers in a number of big tournaments. However he had lost four in a row on the clay prior to his win here earlier in the week and Dzumhur is not going to overpower Fognini in this one.

There should be some long rallies in this one as both players are capable of producing strong defensive tennis, but I think Fognini is the better player and that should eventually show. Last year he was a fairly comfortable winner, but this year it might be a closer 75, 64 kind of win for the Italian as he gets through to a rare Semi Final in 2016.

Laura Siegemund - 3.5 games v Lara Arruabarrena: It was a withdrawal from Angelique Kerber which allowed Lara Arruabarrena through to the Quarter Final, but she faces another German if she wants to go any further in the draw. Laura Siegemund reached the Semi Final in Bucharest last week and she has had her best results on the clay courts this season which makes her the favourite.

This has already been a career year for Siegemund and she has played some solid tennis to get through to the Quarter Final. Both of her wins have come in straight sets and I think Siegemund has the kind of game that will give Arruabarrena a lot to deal with.

The last seven losses Arruabarrena has had on the clay courts has seen her fail to get within this number and someone like Siegemund can get the better of her here. The Spaniard did reach the Semi Final in Bastad last season which would suggest she is comfortable in the conditions at this tournament, but Arruabarrena is not in really strong form at the moment.

Missing a match might keep her physically ready for this match, but it isn't enough against someone who will be battle hardened and I expect Siegemund to come through 64, 64.

Johanna Larsson - 1.5 games v Annika Beck: This has been a tournament that Johanna Larsson has loved playing at throughout her career with three Final appearances here. The defending Champion plays well in front of her own supporters and I think she can get the better of Annika Beck in what could be a very competitive Quarter Final.

I have to respect what Beck will bring to the table which can cause Larsson some problems. We saw Sara Sorribes Tormo give Larsson a hard time by making a few more balls back in play and Beck will be looking to do that throughout this match and try and break down the home favourite mentally as well as physically.

One difference between the players is that Larsson has a much bigger serve than her opponent and I expect her to get a few more free points in this one. Larsson broke the Sorribes Tormo serve every time on Thursday and she will have a chance to play first strike tennis against the Beck serve in this Quarter Final with much of the match on her racquet.

Larsson has been a dominant force in her home tournament over the seasons and she doesn't drop a lot of sets here in winning efforts. I expect her to win this match and so I will back her to cover this number in a three set win.

Samantha Stosur - 5.5 games v Jessica Pegula: There was an element of fortune about Samantha Stosur's Second Round win over Caroline Wozniacki as the latter had to retire with an injury while leading by a set. Now it is up to the Australian to make use of her reprieve in the draw and look to push on for another title on the hard courts in North America.

She looks to have been given a favourable draw against Jessica Pegula of the United States, even if the latter has produced two quality wins so far this week. This has been the first main Tour hard court tournament that the young American has entered this year and wins over Aleksandra Wozniak and Christine McHale, both in straight sets, are decent results to move forward with.

Some of the other results on the hard courts have been less impressive from Pegula this season but Stosur should give her respect considering she pushed Dominika Cibulkova to three sets last year at the US Open. The difference between Cibulkova and Stosur is the latter will produce some big time serving which will increase the pressure on Pegula who is trying to back up a huge upset win over McHale.

Stosur isn't at the same level that saw her win the US Open and the backhand remains a weakness, while she hasn't been blowing players off court too often on the hard courts. However she does save her best tennis for the US hard court swing and I am going to back her to cover a very big number at odds against.

Johanna Konta - 4.5 games v Saisai Zheng: It has been a spectacular twelve months for Johanna Konta who will be amongst the Seeds at the US Open but I think the British Number 1 will be the first to admit to her disappointment with the way the grass court season went for her. A run to the Semi Final in Eastbourne was a solid result, but she was beaten in the Second Round in each of her other three events, including at Wimbledon.

One of the more disappointing defeats had to be the one suffered at the hands of Saisai Zheng, a player Konta had beaten fairly comfortably the previous two times they had met. I am not sure if there was a physical issue there, or whether the mental pressure of playing at home was the reason for that loss, but Konta looked good in her opening win in Stanford.

Both of Zheng's wins this week have looked good too, particularly the way she dismissed Alize Cornet in the last Round. However her game is one that Konta won't be overawed by and the latter has to feel she can get into those service games and earn break points through the contest.

The issue for Konta in Nottingham was that she simply did not serve well enough to keep Zheng under pressure and made too many mistakes through the match. That won't get it done against a solid, if unspectacular, opponent and Konta will know she has to be a little cleverer at the big moments to make this an easier day in the office.

The first serve is the key for Konta- if she can dominate behind that shot, I would expect she will have enough chances to record a 64, 63 win in this one and that is what I will be backing.

Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 games v Misaki Doi: A strong end to the tournament in Washington will give Dominika Cibulkova every chance to work her way back into the top 10 of the World Rankings. Cibulkova is now a married player on the Tour and that has worked out well for some of the ATP players over the last couple of years and it will be interesting to see how it works out for her.

She played well in her first win in Washington, but Cibulkova's issue will always be protecting the serve well enough to come through matches on the faster hard courts. Her run to the Australian Open Final suggests she can do that, but the North American hard courts tend to play a little faster than the ones 'Down Under'.

Being overpowered shouldn't be a concern for Cibulkova in this Quarter Final as she meets Misaki Doi for the first time in their careers. Doi has won two matches as a strong favourite, but the First Round was far from straight forward and this is a player that has plenty of issues with her own serve.

The key for Doi is to try and stay in the rallies and look for an aggressive Cibulkova to make a lot of unforced errors as she starts chasing the lines. However I do think Cibulkova will have success on the return against a weak serve and I believe the Slovakian can move through to the Semi Final behind a 76, 62 win.

Coco Vandeweghe - 2.5 games v Alison Riske: There is no doubt that Coco Vandeweghe is still a very erratic player capable of mixing the sublime with the ridiculous, but she needs to find a little more consistency if she is going to be Seeded at the US Open. Her come from behind win over Nicole Gibbs would have given her confidence, but Vandeweghe will have to be a lot stronger in a lot of departments if she is going to see off compatriot Alison Riske in this Quarter Final.

It has been a difficult season for Riske when it comes to trying to find the consistency to improve her own World Ranking, but she does have a few Finals to call upon. Coming off a decent grass court season, although one that saw her disappointingly beaten early at Wimbledon, should have raised the confidence levels backed up by two come from behind wins in Stanford.

However I do wonder if that is going to have a physical effect on Riske having played six sets compared with three Vandeweghe has played. She hasn't played a lot of tennis in recent weeks which should help, but there is only so many times you can go to the well and recover from a set down, with the mental fatigue also a potential factor.

My concern whenever I back Vandeweghe is that her aggressive style will lead to a lot of unforced errors which gifts breaks of serve away. The actual serve is a big weapon, but you have to follow that up correctly and failure to do that will give Riske a way into this match. In saying that, I think the latter has played a lot of tennis already this week and I don't think it will be possible for her to come back from a set behind again and I like Vandeweghe to move through behind a 64, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Fabio Fognini - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Laura Siegemund - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson - 1.5 Games @ 2.10 William Hill (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominika Cibulkova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Coco Vandeweghe - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 12-11, - 1.84 Units (46 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)

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