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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Olympic Tennis Picks 2016 (August 7th)

The Olympic Games tennis tournament got underway on Saturday and the rest of the First Round matches will be completed on Sunday.

It was a very strong start to the tournament for my picks as they went 5-1 on Saturday and I am looking to back that up with another strong showing on Sunday to get some momentum behind the tennis picks this week.

I am going to be doing something a little different with the way I show the results this week- I will have totals from the Olympic Games matches and a separate one from the picks from the ATP tournaments in Atlanta and Los Cabos. At the end of the week the results will all be pooled together in the season totals anyway, but I think it is the best way to view the results this week.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Andrey Kuznetsov: I don't think it is wrong to suggest that Roberto Bautista Agut is the most underrated player in the top 20 of the World Rankings. He hasn't played a lot of tennis in preparation for the Olympic Games, but Bautista Agut is comfortable on almost any surface and I do think he will get the better of Andrey Kuznetsov in this First Round match.

It could have been a much easier draw for the Spaniard than facing Kuznetsov who has had some solid results on the hard courts in 2016. Take away the surprising loss to Ryan Harrison last week in Toronto and you would notice Kuznetsov has reached the Third Round in Indian Wells and Fourth Round in Miami this season.

Both of those runs were further than where Bautista Agut reached the same tournaments, but I think the Spaniard's game will match up well with Kuznetsov. Bautista Agut will make sure he gets plenty of balls back in play, while he protects his serve better than you might expect, especially when up against players Ranked much lower than he is.

I think a few games will be tight and Bautista Agut has to play the big points effectively to make sure he isn't dragged into a potential upset alert. I think Bautista Agut can do that and I like his chances of finding a 64, 64 win.

Gilles Muller - 3.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: It has been a season of injury for Jerzy Janowicz who made his return to the Tour last week for the first time since the Australian Open. He was beaten by Luca Vanni in the first match he played, but the Italian went on to win that Challenger event and we don't really know how Janowicz is feeling heading into the Olympics.

He will be put under pressure by Gilles Muller in this one and the lack of tennis might mean more mistakes when it comes to shot selection which is a feature of Janowicz performances. The serve can be a big weapon, but Janowicz doesn't always back that up as he should and too many drop shots or big errors can give Muller his chances to break the serve.

Muller has not been as effective on the hard courts as someone with his serve should perhaps be, but he hasn't always had the kindest draw. The lefty did push Novak Djokovic in Toronto last week and that is going to give him confidence, while Muller is much more match ready than Janowicz at this point of their careers.

I think that is going to be important and see Muller earn a break more in each of the first two sets in this one and get passed Janowicz with a 64, 64 win.

Fabio Fognini - 4.5 games v Victor Estrella Burgos: On first glance there will be plenty of people out there that feel this is too many games for Fabio Fognini to cover. The Italian isn't blessed with the biggest serve while his erratic play means he could be in a difficult position to cover very quickly within a match.

However I do think Fognini can get the better of Victor Estrella Burgos as the veteran usually reserves his best form for the clay courts. In fact a deeper look will show that take out the success that Estrella Burgos had in Quito, where he won the title, and he would have a poor 7-14 record on the main Tour this season.

It has been really bad for Estrella Burgos on the hard courts where is 1-6 this season and he has lost his last five hard court matches. Of those losses, Estrella Burgos would have failed to get within this number four times and losses to the likes of Jordan Thompson, Sam Groth and Taylor Fritz won't inspire a lot of confidence in him.

Like I've said, you don't know what you will get from Fognini on any day. However I think the Italian does play very strong tennis when representing his nation and Fognini can find a way to win this one 64, 63.

Robin Haase v Joao Sousa: Last year was a career year for Joao Sousa, but this is a player who is now slipping down the World Ranking. In 2015 Sousa won 34 matches on the Tour, but he has only won 15 this season and brings in a losing record into what is a difficult time of the season for him.

Maybe the Olympic Games can change things, but the hard courts have not been the favoured surface for Sousa, although he can at least point to the fact that Robin Haase is not at his best on the surface either.

This is the first hard court match Haase has played since the Indian Wells tournament back in March, but the Dutchman has played well since Wimbledon. Winning a Challenger event and reaching the Semi Final of a main Tour event is better form than what Sousa has produced in 2016 and Haase has produced it at the right time to build momentum into this tournament.

I don't think there will be much between the players, but confidence can be huge for players going into tournaments and that is where Haase has to have the edge. It is a pick 'em contest, but I like Haase winning this one.

Monica Puig - 4.5 games v Polona Hercog: It is going to be interesting to see how the players that performed in Florianopolis last week are able to cope with the quick turnaround into the Olympic Games. Monica Puig had a very good week in Florianopolis where she reached the Semi Final and I am looking for her to maintain that momentum against Polona Hercog.

The latter hasn't played a lot of tennis these past few weeks and her confidence can't be in a great place after going 6-15 on the main Tour in 2016 so far. Hercog has lost six of her seven hard court matches on the main Tour this season and all but one of those losses would have seen her fail to come within this number.

Much of the match is going to be determined by the Puig racquet and a strong serving day would give her a significant advantage in this one. That isn't always the case with Puig, but she played well enough last week and looks to be the stronger player on the hard courts compared with Hercog.

There will be competitive moments in this one, but Puig should have the majority of the break point chances and I am looking for her to come through with a 75, 63 win.

Irina-Camelia Begu - 4.5 games v Nao Hibino: I backed Irina-Camelia Begu to beat Nao Hibino and cover the spread last week and she managed to do that with some comfort, even if she made life a little more difficult in the second set than it needed to be. This week she is a slightly stronger favourite to win this match and I am going to back the Florianopolis Champion to back up that success at least through this Round.

Winning a title and maintaining that momentum can be difficult for players on the Tour and you see that on a regular basis through the year. However playing in the Olympic Games should keep Begu focused and she has had a day to get over to Rio de Janeiro and become accustomed to the conditions here.

That isn't a lot of time to get ready, but Begu should be comfortable in this match up where she will have the majority of break points and has to feel she can dictate points for much of the match. The Begu serve has been something of an issue at times over the last week and she can fail to back up the first shot as effectively as she would have wanted, but Begu still managed to win the title last week and that has to give her confidence.

She was the better player when she met Hibino last week and I think she might have a similar margin of victory in this one as last week so I will back her to cover this number.

Caroline Garcia - 5.5 games v Teliana Pereira: On first glance I have to say this looks a big number especially for a Caroline Garcia who has not been in the best recent form. In fact she hasn't been in good form since winning the title in Mallorca prior to Wimbledon and the Frenchwoman is yet to really start fulfilling the potential so many believe she has.

The serve can be a big weapon and Garcia has all the shots as she is effective from the back of the court as much as when she wants to attack the net. However mentally she can lose focus at critical moments and Garcia is also taking on a home favourite in the draw when facing Teliana Pereira.

Backing from the fans can help, but it also may increase the pressure on Pereira to perform in a year in which she has struggled on the main Tour. The hard courts have always been a tough surface for Pereira to get to grips with and she has lost eight of her last nine matches on this surface.

More worrying for her fans has to be way Pereira has fallen away in those matches and she would not have covered this number of games in any of those losses. If Garcia remains focused, she should get enough joy out of her serve to come to a 64, 62 win in this one.

Samantha Stosur - 2.5 games v Jelena Ostapenko: Jelena Ostapenko won a couple of matches in Florianopolis last week which would have given her a little confidence to take into the Olympic Games. Those wins came after early losses in Washington and Montreal, but Ostapenko would have liked an easier First Round match than this one.

She is facing Samantha Stosur, a player who has produced some of her best tennis on the hard courts through her career. Her serve is a real weapon on this surface, although Stosur has to make sure she protects the limited backhand that so many opponents look to expose when they play the Australian.

Ostapenko had lost four in a row on the hard courts prior to her wins in Florianopolis although it has to be noted that the tournament didn't feature too many big names early in the draw. She had reached the Final in Doha earlier this year which shows Ostapenko can be dangerous on this surface, but she will have to be serving a lot better than she was when losing to Timea Babos last week.

This will be close because Stosur has not exactly been in top form herself and lost a couple of disappointing matches. However I think she can serve a little more effectively than Ostapenko through this match and I believe Stosur can come through 76, 64.

MY PICKS: Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 3.5  Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Robin Haase @ 2.00 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Monica Puig - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Irina-Camelia Begu - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Olympic Games Update: 5-1, + 6.96 Units (12 Units Staked, + 58% Yield)

Weekly Update: 10-7, + 5.84 Units (34 Units Staked, + 17.18% Yield)

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