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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Cincinnati Tennis Picks 2016 (August 18th)

The tournament in Cincinnati has been a difficult one for me so far with the picks being very inconsistent and it looks like the run of successful weeks since Wimbledon might be coming to a close.

It has been a strong run that has turned a really poor 2016 into one that looks like it can be salvaged. The last twelve months of picks have been difficult in all honesty, but I am looking to try and get back into a positive to produce another winning season in the tennis year.

I don't want to push myself too much, but will look to continue doing what I have since Wimbledon and hope the little bit of luck remains on my side to keep things going in the direction I want.

Wednesday was a tough day for the picks with some players getting close to the cover before falling away, although a couple of late results prevented it being a truly bad day. On Thursday we move onto the Third Round of both the Masters and Premier Event and all of those matches will be played through the day.

One match has already been decided with Dominic Thiem handed a walkover to the Quarter Final as Gael Monfils pulled out of the tournament.

Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: It was a tougher than expected Second Round match for Stan Wawrinka, but he eventually was able to overcome the challenge handed out by Jared Donaldson in three sets. The Third Round sees Wawrinka matched up with Grigor Dimitrov as he looks to snap a run of three consecutive losses to the Bulgarian, although they have not played one another since May 2015.

Since that time the Dimitrov form has dropped off markedly and his wins over Wawrinka on the clay courts just before the latter won the French Open do feel a long time ago. He is just 39-30 on the Tour since the French Open in 2015 and Dimitrov has struggled for his consistency although it has to be said he has been putting more wins down over the last month.

That included a run to the Quarter Final in Toronto earlier this month and he has battled to two wins here in Cincinnati. Stan Wawrinka did reach the Semi Final in Toronto but decided to pull out of the Olympic Games with a back issue, and that remains a big concern when backing him, but the battling win over Donaldson suggests that might not be bothering Wawrinka too much at the moment.

Serving well is going to be important for Wawrinka and if he can do that I would think he will eventually get the better of Dimitrov whose own confidence is right on the brink. Once things get on top of Dimitrov I can see him struggling to stay in the moment and I like Wawrinka getting through with a 46, 63, 64 win.

Rafael Nadal - 4.5 games v Borna Coric: The last two weeks have seen Rafael Nadal return to the Tour and he won a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games in the Doubles tournament while reaching the Semi Final in the Singles. Unfortunately Nadal was beaten in his last two matches and missed out on adding to his Medal tally, but the Spaniard has to be pleased with the way his wrist reacted following an injury lay off.

Nadal played the big points very well in his Second Round win over Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday, but he had to battle through a tense second set after dominating the first. He will know he has to be close to his best against Borna Coric who already holds a win over Nadal in his young career, although I do think the Croatian is just trying to get over a slight bump in his career at the moment.

It can be difficult for young players to find the consistency week after week, but you can't ignore the talent Coric clearly has. He is still filling out though and his win over Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday is the first win as the underdog in a match since the Paris Masters last year. That means Coric has lost 12 matches in a row as the underdog and he is 4-8 when it comes to getting within this number.

That might be down to the serve still needing work and a couple of breaks for Nadal would give him a chance to control this match. I won't be surprised if Coric takes a set as he has in three of his losses as the underdog, but he has failed to get within this number in two of those too and I will take Nadal to come through with a 62, 76 win.

Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 games v Roberta Vinci: She might have been the beneficiary of a retirement on Wednesday, but Carla Suarez Navarro looked very much in control of her Second Round match. That will have given her some idea of the conditions in Cincinnati as she gets ready to take on Roberta Vinci, a player she has beaten five of six times they have played on the Tour.

That includes beating the Italian for the loss of just two games earlier this year on the clay courts, their first match since 2013. Both players will believe they have improved since 2013, but Vinci has not been as consistent as Suarez Navarro as the latter is on course to record 40 plus wins in a season for the fourth year in a row.

It is going to be a tough match for both players with plenty of rallies as neither can really rely on the serve to offer too many cheap points. The Suarez Navarro backhand is one of the nicest looking shots on the WTA Tour and she will have an edge going into the Vinci backhand where the latter relies on a lot of slice rather than hitting over the ball.

The one factor that you can't really call is how they will play at the big points with plenty of break points likely to be on offer for both players. The head to head will likely give Suarez Navarro the mental edge at those times though and I think she is going to be a little too good in the first two sets which should help her move past Vinci with a 75, 63 win.

Svetlana Kuznetsova v Timea Bacsinszky: This looks a solid Third Round match between two players who have produced some solid tennis through 2016 with Timea Bacsinszky recording 29 wins to Svetlana Kuznetsova's 30 Tour wins.

The difference between the players in this match might be the way they have performed on the faster playing surfaces. The majority of Bacsinszky's wins have come on the clay courts while the majority of Kuznetsova's have been on the hard courts and that includes winning the title in Sydney and reaching the Final in Miami.

It was in the Semi Final in Miami that these players last met and Kuznetsova was a little more solid to come through in straight sets. I do think the Russian has the edge on serve and will get the shorter responses from the first serve, but Bacsinszky will try and frustrate by getting plenty of balls back in play.

However the courts in Cincinnati are quick and that should mean Kuznetsova is able to hit through the Bacsinszky defences in this match. Bacsinszky was a comfortable winner in the Second Round here, but I am not surprised she doesn't have the best record in Cincinnati having lost her first match here the last two appearances because of the speed of the court meaning it is possible to hit through her. I will be looking for underdog Kuznetsova to do that and record her second win over Bacsinszky in 2016 and will back the Russian to get through to the Quarter Final.

Daria Gavrilova + 5.5 games v Simona Halep: Having won back to back titles in Bucharest and Montreal since Wimbledon, going against Simona Halep might be difficult to do. However I can't help feel this is too many games for Daria Gavrilova to be in receipt of on a fast court where she will be able to use her aggression to attack Halep.

They did meet in Montreal earlier this month and Halep was a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 winner but the extra speed through the court in this one should give the Australian a better chance. While Halep's defensive skills have to be admired, it might be more difficult to show those off on a court like this one and the previous two matches between Halep and Gavrilova did need three sets to separate them.

Going to three sets will give Gavrilova a real chance to cover with this number of games behind her and the form shown so far this week has to be respected. She has beaten four opponents in Cincinnati without dropping a set and the wins over Caroline Garcia and Elina Svitolina for the loss of twelve games is hugely impressive.

I do think Gavrilova will have some issues holding her serve against a solid returning player like Halep, but I also expect her to get into the Halep service games better than she did in Montreal. The conditions look better for Gavrilova than Halep and I will take the games and look for the Australian to continue her fine form here and cover.

Angelique Kerber - 4.5 games v Barbora Strycova: It has been a solid week for Barbora Strycova so far in Cincinnati with back to back straight sets wins to move into the Third Round here. She also snapped her four match losing run to Angelique Kerber when they last met in Madrid in May which should give Strycova a little more belief in this one as she takes on the Number 2 Seed.

Her matches on the hard courts against Kerber have been less impressive though with three previous matches on this surface all ending in wins for the German. More worrying for Strycova would be the fact she has won a grand total of just FIVE games in those three losses which includes a 6-1, 6-1 loss in Miami in March.

Strycova has been serving well so far but this is easily the best returner she would have faced so far and her losses on the hard courts have tended to see her struggling with this number. She has failed to get within this number in 5 of her 8 losses on the hard courts this season and the match up with Kerber has clearly been a troubling one for her.

I'd be surprised if Strycova is beaten as comfortably as in their last three hard court matches considering the form she is in and having snapped her losing run to Kerber in Madrid. However I think the German has the returning and defensive skills to frustrate Strycova and earn the errors that can lead to a 64, 63 kind of win.

Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Winning the French Open was a huge achievement for Garbine Muguruza this season, but she is the latest in a long line of players that have struggled in the immediate aftermath of their first Grand Slam win. There are big things being projected for Muguruza in the coming years, but the young Spaniard will be hoping for a stronger run in the coming weeks than she had recently.

Muguruza is just 4-3 in matches since beating Serena Williams in Paris, but it is the manner of the one-sided losses that have been the eye-opener. In her three defeats, Muguruza has won just fourteen games which is shocking when you consider the power she has in her racquet.

Her battling win over Coco Vandeweghe on Wednesday might have given her a shot in the arm when it comes to confidence, but Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is playing some very strong tennis herself and definitely increases the level of opponent Muguruza is playing. The Russian was also a one-sided victim of Monica Puig in the Olympic Games, as was Muguruza, but her Quarter Final runs in Wimbledon followed by reaching the same stage in Montreal has to be admired.

I am still unsure of the Pavlyuchenkova movement and she will have to serve a lot of first serves to keep Muguruza from just taking huge swings against her. Their previous two matches on the hard courts have been competitive, but Muguruza does have the superior movement and is more willing to get to the net to finish points, while the Spaniard also has the more consistent serve.

Muguruza might not have shown that much in recent weeks, but the quality is there and I think she breaks down Pavlyuchenkova in a 76, 63 win.

Johanna Konta + 3.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: With a few more wins on the board over the next month, it looks inevitable that Johanna Konta will be able to crack the top 10 of the World Rankings in what has been a stellar twelve months. She is going to begin to have a lot of points to defend beginning with the US Open, but Konta has joined some of the best players on the WTA Tour and doesn't look out of place.

She has to have the target of finishing in the top eight places in the Road to Singapore and Konta has shown she can take it to the best players and not feel like she is going to come up short. A player like Agnieszka Radwanska is possibly the kind she would not enjoy playing as much as can be seen by the defeats to Angelique Kerber, but there is a real difference between Radwanska and Kerber which can see Konta being a lot more competitive in this one.

While Kerber has a decent serve and is able to turn defence into attack very effectively, Radwanska is more of a player that will look to use variation to extract errors rather than going for outright winners. If Konta can play as solidly as she has for much of the last twelve months, she should have chances to dictate the rallies and this court should allow her to penetrate the Radwanska defences.

I feel Konta is being a little underrated here when you think how well she has held herself together against every opponent she has played. There is a real feeling she can win a set in this one and that makes this number of games very appealing for the British Number 1. As impressive as Radwanska was in her Second Round crushing of Andrea Petkovic, the Polish player is just 8-6 in Cincinnati where the speed of the courts doesn't do her many favours and I will back Konta to cover.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Daria Gavrilova + 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Johanna Konta + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)

Cincinnati Update: 7-9, - 6.68 Units (32 Units Staked, - 20.88% Yield)

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