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Friday, 19 August 2016

Cincinnati Tennis Picks 2016 (August 19th)

It has been a difficult week for the picks in Cincinnati with very little luck going my way to turn things in my favour. Thursday proved to be another losing day after Johanna Konta fell apart in the deciding set against Agnieszka Radwanska in what had been a very close match to that point.

I was stunned by the Rafa Nadal performance as he was swept aside by Borna Coric in straight sets, while Stan Wawrinka was another big name exiting the tournament before the Quarter Finals.

Overall it has been a poor week considering how well the last six weeks have gone and it looks like the season totals will take a step back. It is never wise to 'chase' those defeats so I am just going to continue doing what has worked over the last six weeks and look for a little bit more luck to with the picks that will be made over the next three days.

Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 games v Timea Babos: I have been really impressed with the way Timea Babos has played this season and she looks to be on another strong run in Cincinnati having come through the Qualifiers to make the Quarter Final. There will be some mental obstacles to overcome when she faces Garbine Muguruza who has won their two matches in 2016 and three of the four sets by the same 6-2 score.

The Spaniard has struggled with the label of being a Grand Slam Champion since the French Open, but she has played well in her two wins so far this week. Muguruza was aided significantly by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has the yips on her serve on Thursday, but I was more impressed with the way Muguruza looked after her own serve.

On this surface that Muguruza serve is a big weapon and will inspire confidence to hit the heavy groundstrokes when that shot is working. That has shown up in her last two wins over heavy hitters like Pavlyuchenkova and Coco Vandeweghe and the firepower will keep coming when she faces Babos.

The difference might be that Babos will attempt to get to the net and try and make volleys from the heavy shots that Muguruza will hit and that has proven a tough task consistently. The Babos serve can be very good, but it can also be inconsistent and I think Muguruza will be able to get involved in a few more service games and the Spaniard should have the lion share of break points which ultimately may lead to a 76, 62 kind of win.

Milos Raonic - 2.5 games v Borna Coric: The courts in Cincinnati should be very productive for the Milos Raonic serve and heavy forehands, but I do sometimes wonder if the faster courts suit these big hitters with limited returning ability. As well as Raonic has played in the last couple of months, that return is going to be an issue when it comes to actually trying to put a Grand Slam title in the trophy cabinet.

So far it has not been a big issue this week but I expect Raonic to face his toughest test of the week when he meets Dominic Thiem in the Quarter Final. Thiem has only needed to win one match to get to this stage thanks to Gael Monfils' withdrawal before their Third Round match.

However the Austrian is coming off a retirement in Toronto and he has not played a lot of tennis since reaching the Semi Final in Halle back in June. That might mean Thiem is a little undercooked when it comes to facing Raonic on a very quick Cincinnati hard court and I expect the Canadian to have the edge when it comes to scoreboard pressure being exerted.

I am a big fan of Thiem and I would back him to win a Grand Slam title before Raonic, but at this moment I am not sure he will have enough to keep the Canadian off, especially in the current conditions. A first set tie-breaker is likely to be the key to the whole match and I think Raonic might see a few more returns fly through the court from his racquet to earn a 76, 64 win.

Marin Cilic - 3.5 games v Borna Coric: It has to be one of the most surprisingly one-sided results I have seen for some time when reading Borna Coric had crushed Rafael Nadal for the loss of just four games. Yes the Spaniard had to get some physical treatment from the trainer on his foot and biceps, but Coric was very impressive although backing up that special win is going to be a real test of his character.

Coric simply hasn't thrived in the underdog role in 2016 and he has regularly found opponents to have a little more experience and perhaps a little more firepower than he can deal with at this moment in his career. I have very little doubt Coric is going to be a mainstay of the top 10 once he breaks through that barrier, but he is still learning his game and getting the most out of his body at this moment.

The serve was working well on Thursday, but it will be tested much more vigorously by Marin Cilic who had to beat Tomas Berdych in three sets on Thursday. This is a real chance for Marin Cilic to try and break back into the top 10 of the World Rankings in the coming weeks and his form has looked strong this week.

These two players will know one another from Davis Cup action together representing Croatia but that friendship and respect will have to be put aside. As well as Coric has played this week, I still can't ignore the poor record as the underdog in 2016 and I am looking for his compatriot to be too strong on the day and win this one 75, 64.

Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Bernard Tomic: I was very interested to see how Andy Murray would respond to winning the Gold Medal on Sunday and being back in action on the Tour on Wednesday in extremely different court conditions. At the moment you would have to say that Murray is playing like the best player in the world and he has proven that with one sided wins over Juan Monaco and Kevin Anderson so far.

You can't help but be impressed that Murray has dropped just ten games in two matches so far this week after coming over from Rio, while he is firm favourite to win the tournament now that Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal are out of the draw. Murray did have a couple of tight wins in Rio last week, but that doesn't disguise the fact that he would have covered this number in two set matches in six of his last seven wins over the last two weeks.

Murray has a 4-0 head to head record over Bernard Tomic going into this one and that isn't a surprise when you think the Australian has a similar style of play but Murray does everything a little better. Like Murray, Tomic likes to employ a lot of variation on the court to bamboozle his opponents, but Murray is well accustomed to playing that game and has the far superior movement and physical endurance to count upon.

They did play a tight match at the Australian Open in January, but the other three wins have been routine for Murray. I think he is serving better now than he was when they met at the first Grand Slam of the season and playing as aggressive as he has at any time in his career. I have to respect the two big wins Tomic has had this week over David Goffin and Kei Nishikori, but Murray poses a significant increase in quality and he does match up well with a player who has lost to Ivo Karlovic and Kevin Anderson on the hard courts over the past six weeks.

I think Murray might have another edge in having played the night session matches already this week and I am looking for him to come through with a 64, 63 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Cincinnati Update: 10-14, - 10.86 Units (48 Units Staked, - 22.63% Yield)

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