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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Olympic Tennis Picks 2016 (August 6th)

The Olympic Games tennis tournament is played this week in Rio de Janeiro and it should be a fascinating week.

The nature of the draw means there are some very strange names in the mix of a 64 player tournament as it is an event that is opened up to include as many nations as possible. However it has also produced some really interesting First Round matches and there should be some excellent tennis on display over the next few days.

I am not sure how much television coverage there will be of the tennis before the later stages of the tournament, but I won't be around for much of Saturday so won't really know how that coverage will work until Sunday. There are plenty of courts on which the tennis will be played, but I can't imagine too much televised matches outside of the top two courts, although I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised in the coming days.

Anyway I will also use this thread to post any picks from the Atlanta Semi Finals which will take place on Saturday, but I won't add those until early Saturday evening once I am back home.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: There was an improvement made by Grigor Dimitrov in reaching the Toronto Quarter Final last week, a run that included a win over Ivo Karlovic who beat Marin Cilic in the opening Round there. However I am not going to suggest Dimitrov is already back to his best after one good tournament as there have been some false dawns in a turn around of his form over the last twelve months.

Dimitrov has had more tennis this summer than Cilic which might give him a slight edge, but a loss to Daniel Evans won't inspire much confidence. His best performances have come on the hard courts though and Dimitrov can give Cilic plenty to think about, especially if the latter is not serving as well as he can.

The Croatian has been involved in Davis Cup action since Wimbledon where he did beat John Isner but the early loss in Toronto was an unexpected setback for Cilic. A poor hard court record in 2016 is an issue for Cilic, but he has saved his best performances for the US Open and these courts are supposed to play most similar to that tournament.

I do think Cilic will have more belief in his own game even if he falls behind in this one and that is why I give him the edge over Dimitrov. It will likely be a tense battle but I am looking for Cilic to take a tight opening set and then perhaps with a little more comfort in the second set to cover this number.

Illya Marchenko + 2.5 games v Andreas Seppi: The favourite for this match might be Andreas Seppi, but it is Illya Marchenko who comes into this First Round contest as the higher Ranked player.

Marchenko has shown some solid form in winning one Challenger and ending as Runner Up in another on the hard courts since Wimbledon. Both of those were played in Europe which might be an issue, but Marchenko's confidence should be in a very good place heading into this match.

Compared with Marchenko, Seppi has not been playing a lot of tennis since the third Grand Slam of the season ended. He has lost his two matches since Wimbledon and 2016 has been a difficult year for the Italian on the hard courts as he is just 5-6 in his matches played on that surface.

The experience edge has to be given to Seppi, while Marchenko's recent wins have come on the Challenger circuit rather than the main Tour. However his confidence can't be underestimated in this one and what that will give Marchenko and facing someone who might not be feeling his best on this surface should give the Ukrainian a chance to cover with this number of games in his hand.

Evgeny Donskoy - 1.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: Playing Challenger events in Kazakhstan might not be the best preparation for the Olympic Games in Brazil, but Evgeny Donskoy won that event after reaching the Semi Final of another hard court Challenger event in Italy.
That makes him the favourite in this First Round match against Jan-Lennard Struff who has been playing on the main Tour this summer but in clay court events. Neither player has the best of records at the main Tour level, but Donskoy can point to a 16-3 record on the Challenger and Qualifier level on hard courts compared with Struff who is going to be playing just his fourth hard court match in 2016.

The familiarity with the surface might give Donskoy the edge in the match although he is yet to take his Challenger level successes onto the main Tour. Some of the losses would have been particularly disappointing for the Russian, but he did reach the Second Round at the US Open last season after coming through the Qualifiers and that followed successes on the Challenger circuit at this time of the season.

I don't think there will be a lot between these players, but I think Donskoy may have the edge having played plenty of hard court tennis in recent weeks compared with Struff. A narrow win is likely to be the outcome and I will back Donskoy to achieve that and cover this number of games.

Due to time constraints, picks from the Women's matches on Saturday will be set up in the 'MY PICKS' section.

Reilly Opelka + 3.5 games v John Isner: There were a couple of markets that leaped off the page as I looked through the two Atlanta Semi Finals and both involved the second Semi Final of the night. It is John Isner versus 'The New John Isner' Reilly Opelka and the youngster has played well enough to deserve more respect on the game handicap than I feel he is getting.

Both players have big serves that are going to be difficult to break and so getting this many games for Opelka at odds against looks too much to ignore.

Tiebreakers are likely to play a key part in this match and this potentially needs John Isner to break two more times than Opelka to come through with a cover of this number. It will be difficult to break the big serve once, let alone twice, while the Isner serve has been more vulnerable this summer than in previous years.

At odds against I have to say I do like Opelka's chances to keep this one competitive and I will back the younger player to do that.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Illya Marchenko + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Evgeny Donskoy - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Barbora Strycova - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Reilly Opelka + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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