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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Wimbledon Tennis Day 12 Picks 2016 (July 8th)

Thursday was the Ladies Semi Final day at Wimbledon so plenty of tennis articles will be written about those matches. However I feel the big news that Sky have decided to drop their coverage of the US Open, the final Grand Slam of the season, might have flown a little under the radar.

For 25 years Sky Sports has been the home of the US Open after sub-letting from Eurosport and recent years we have had the fortune of seeing a number of courts broadcasted on the 'red button', but the decision not to renew coverage for another year is a big blow.

Sky have denied they are cutting down their interests in other sports after another record breaking television deal to broadcast Premier League football and keep BT from stealing the majority of coverage from them. The Champions League has already gone, but Sky insist they have simply used their deal making to bring in the entire Formula 1 calendar exclusively to their channels, bar the British Grand Prix, and also taking another of the Golf Majors into their portfolio from the BBC.

The news that Sky remains 'committed to tennis' doesn't exactly have me jumping for joy considering they have dropped the US Open. The deal with the ATP Tour to broadcast their Masters and ATP 500 events including the World Tour Finals runs out at the end of next season and I don't think I will believe how 'committed' Sky are until they look to renew that deal.

We already know a lot of the big WTA events below the Slam level are being shown on BT and I would not be surprised if that company decides to make a play for the ATP Tour in time for the 2018 season. Their motivations might become clear in the coming weeks if BT Sport decide they will sub-let the US Open rights from Eurosport, although the latter might be becoming the dominant player in the tennis world in the UK now they have some rights to every Grand Slam event through the year.

On Friday we have the two Mens Semi Finals taking over Centre Court, but there is a feeling a big name is missing in Novak Djokovic who was Seeded to take on Roger Federer. The remaining four players in the draw all have to feel this is a big chance to win a Grand Slam title now that the dominant player of the last couple of years is out of the draw and there will be some nerves.

For all the big matches Roger Federer and Andy Murray have played, neither has won a Grand Slam since Andy Murray ended Britain's hope for a Mens winner at Wimbledon in 2013. Both have lost three Grand Slam Finals since that tournament and that is going to have both players a little nervous, while Tomas Berdych is at the stage of his career where these opportunities won't be coming around too many more times.

Milos Raonic is the young gun hoping to announce himself on the upper most stage of Mens tennis and he has two Semi Final appearances at Slams to use as experience.

All in all it should be a good day of tennis on Friday and the Mens Final will likely be an intriguing one with plenty of storylines attached to it.

Andy Murray - 6.5 games v Tomas Berdych: For a moment Andy Murray looked to be leaning over and staring into the abyss after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came from two sets down and then had a break point to open the final set. Murray held and screamed out 'there is no way I am losing this match' and he was subsequently proven right by seeing off the Frenchman 6-1 in that final set to move into the Semi Final at Wimbledon for the seventh time in the last eight years.

Murray has 'only' gone on to win the title here once back in 2013, but he might not get a better chance to put a third Slam into the trophy cabinet than he has in the next few days. He looks the best player left in the draw, while the Tsonga match should just have refocused his mind.

Having a day off between matches is good for Murray who invested a lot emotionally into that Quarter Final win, while his opponent Tomas Berdych was casually coming through his own Quarter Final. It has been a quiet run through the draw for Berdych in terms of media exposure, but he has had to battle through a couple of tough four and five setters which might have increased his confidence he can get back to the Final at SW19.

This remains the only Grand Slam Final Berdych has reached, that coming in 2010, and he remains confident his game is well suited to this surface. You would think so with a big serve followed by big groundstrokes, but I think Berdych can be let down by his return game, while I also think someone like Murray produces enough variation to keep him bamboozled.

It has been the case since January 2015 as Murray has not only beaten Berdych in all four meetings since then, but he has won the last nine sets in a row. Berdych has only won more than four games in those sets on one occasion and the last couple of matches have been dominated by Murray who will believe he is the better grass court player in this one.

With the way recent matches against Murray have gone, I am not sure how much belief Berdych will have if he loses the first set in this Semi Final. It also has to be noted that Berdych's 12 previous defeats at Wimbledon have all come in straight sets and I can see this one running away from him once he falls behind as Murray looks to have figured the best way to approach matches against him.

I can see the first set being competitive, but Murray eventually having a little too much in the locker and coming through 75, 63, 64.

Roger Federer - 2.5 games v Milos Raonic: The other Semi Final on Friday is between a seven time Wimbledon winner and a new contender for the thrown.

Forget the head to head which is heavily skewed in favour of Roger Federer as the most recent match between these two players was won by Milos Raonic in Brisbane back in January.

The question for Federer is going to be whether he has had enough time to recover physically and emotionally from his Quarter Final win over Marin Cilic. It was a match he could have easily lost in three or four sets and while Federer spoke of the huge boost it will give him, you also have to wonder how the back and the knee will have responded to the match.

At least this one won't be a physical match in terms of long rallies with both players looking to dominate behind the first serve. Milos Raonic did a good job of neutralising Sam Querrey in his Quarter Final win over the man who beat 'The Man' and his run to the Queens Final has to be giving him a lot of confidence and belief that he can show more in his second Semi Final at Wimbledon.

Raonic came close to breaking through a barrier when leading Andy Murray 2-1 in sets in the Australian Open Semi Final earlier this season, and he has played Roger Federer here at Wimbledon in his other Grand Slam Semi Final. The Canadian has to use that experience to his advantage by serving big and looking to get Federer on the move as well as surprising him with approaches to the net to disrupt the former World Number 1.

However I still think Raonic might be lacking something in the belief department when it comes to these really big matches. Playing Federer on Centre Court is like entering into the 'King's Court' and how Raonic deals with that is going to be a key to his success in this one. Personally I am not ready to believe the Canadian is ready to make the step up to his first Grand Slam Final and I think Federer will be able to negate the serve for long enough to come through and cover this number of games.

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 6.5 Games @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 42-35, + 12.16 Units (152 Units Staked, + 8% Yield)

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