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Monday, 15 August 2016

Cincinnati Tennis Picks 2016 (August 15th)

The Olympic Games are in the books as Andy Murray made history by becoming the first player to ever win two Gold Medals in the Singles tournament.

It has kept the momentum behind the World Number 2 who will go into the US Open as the favourite to win the title for a second time as far as I am concerned. This week he has headed over to Cincinnati for the last Masters ahead of the US Open, although I would not be surprised to see Murray decide to pull out of the event before his Second Round match with a lack of rest and completely different court conditions likely to play a part in that decision.

Juan Martin Del Potro added the Silver Medal to the Bronze he won in London four years ago and the only disappointment for him has to be the fact there were no Ranking points on the line. The Argentinian is trying to get back into the top 100 in the World Rankings and he is likely to be given a Wild Card for the US Open which might be the next time we see him.

Watching him this week was fun, but I couldn't help feel that we have been robbed of seeing Del Potro at the very top of the men's game and I think is game would have matched up incredibly well against Novak Djokovic the last few years before the wrist injury. Unfortunately that has really limited what Del Potro can do on his backhand when he formerly could rip winners from both wings, although he should have been given plenty of confidence from his run to the Final in Rio that he can take into the rest of the season.

Monica Puig won the Gold Medal in the women's event, but I am not ready to crown her as the next big star of the WTA Tour over a successful week. No one will ever be able to take that Gold Medal from Puig, but she has shown plenty of inconsistency through the 2016 season to suggest she can back it up the rest of the month, although her big game will make her a danger in the US Open draw.

Most of the big names on the WTA Tour will be playing in Cincinnati this week as final preparations for the US Open are made and that should be a strong tournament.

Last week was a decent one for the picks which have taken another big chunk out of the season totals as I look for a positive season when six weeks ago I was simply looking to limit the losses. Making the right picks for the next few weeks will be key and I have to make sure I am keeping the mind clear and not looking too far ahead.

On Monday we have the start of the First Round matches in Cincinnati although there aren't as many matches scheduled for the day as I imagined. The matches will come thick and fast the rest of the week though and hopefully I can put together another positive week on the Tour.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Julien Benneteau: This is going to be the twelfth meeting between Julien Benneteau and David Ferrer on the Tour but the first since they met in Cincinnati two years ago. On that occasion it was Ferrer who came through comfortably enough against the Frenchman, but both look to be on the slide in their career at this moment.

Ferrer has been a feature of the top 10 in the World Rankings in recent years but he no longer occupies one of those spots and a difficult 2016 season, by his own standards, has the Spaniard at Number 17 in the Singles Race. He also suffered a surprising defeat at the Olympic Games when up a set and a break and that is something that has to be a concern for Ferrer as he has been losing serve and leads more regularly these days.

In saying that, I do think Ferrer will get the better of fellow veteran Benneteau who has been trying to recapture his form after a long injury lay off. Benneteau did reach the Quarter Final in Los Cabos last week before running into Feliciano Lopez, but that has been a rare success for him as he looks a little slower around the court.

Benneteau's last five losses in a best of three match have seen him fail to cover this number of games and while Ferrer has struggled, he does tend to cover this number when he does win on the hard courts. His last nine wins on this surface has seen Ferrer go 9-0 if he was asked to cover 4.5 games and I think he has still got enough in the locker to win this match 64, 63 and move into the Second Round.

Nicolas Almagro - 1.5 games v Jared Donaldson: Nicolas Almagro might be back inside the top 50 in the World Rankings but he is heading into a portion of the season that might be unfamiliar to him these days. The Spaniard has gone 5-8 on the hard courts since the 2014 season and even that record has been boosted by Almagro winning two matches in Los Cabos last week before losing a tight Quarter Final.

That is the second consecutive Quarter Final on the hard courts, the other being at the Challenger level, which might give Almagro a boost in confidence as he takes on a young American hope. Jared Donaldson came through the Qualifiers to reach the Second Round in Washington, Third Round in Toronto and First Round last week in Los Cabos, but he is still a little inconsistent and has yet to transfer his form onto the main Tour.

The two upset wins Donaldson had in Toronto will have given him confidence to take on Almagro who is not at the level of a few years ago. However the conditions in Cincinnati should make the Almagro serve more dangerous but he is making his first appearance here in three years and I do think the Spaniard has lost some of his consistency which saw him enter the top 10 of the World Rankings.

Donaldson did upset Nicolas Mahut here last year, but I think he might just struggle to match the serve that Almagro should be able to produce on this court. It will likely need three sets, but I will look for Almagro to use all of his experience to help him past Donaldson and cover this number.

Reilly Opelka + 2.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: He might still be Number 364 in the World Rankings, but Reilly Opelka can make a significant move by the end of the US Open where I would expect him to earn a Wild Card. A run to the Semi Final in Atlanta will have given Opelka plenty of confidence and he is in the Masters main draw in Cincinnati this week.

A Second Round loss to Feliciano Lopez last week in Los Cabos was a closer match than the scoreboard indicated and I think the courts in Cincinnati will suit Opelka's game especially the monster serve he possesses.

I also think Opelka has shown he could potentially be a stronger returner than the likes of John Isner which will give him every chance of big success in the future once the 18 year old fills out the body. At this moment he is still the underdog against Jeremy Chardy, but the Frenchman has been in really poor form in 2016 and two early losses on the hard courts this summer have to be a concern.

In fact Chardy has had five consecutive First Round losses on the hard courts since reaching the Quarter Final in Delray Beach. Four of those losses have come as the favourite and one of those was against another young American with plenty of potential in Taylor Fritz and Chardy is just 5-6 in Cincinnati when you take away one Quarter Final appearance here in 2012.

If Opelka is serving well, I think he will have chances to break in this one and I can really see the upset come off in the First Round. However I will take the games being given to the big serving American to at least keep things competitive in this one against an opponent who has shown in the past he is more than a capable player but Chardy's recent form can't be ignored.

MY PICKS: David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Reilly Opelka + 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)

Season 2016- 8.82 Units (1407 Units Staked, - 0.01% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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