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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Olympic Tennis Picks 2016 (August 9th)

The Olympic Tennis tournament is moving onto Day 4 and the Women's Quarter Finals will be set at the end of this day filled with plenty of matches.

The Second Round of the Men's draw will also be completed on Tuesday and there is no doubt that the biggest result in the Olympic Games in the Tennis tournament has to be the exit of Novak Djokovic in the First Round against Juan Martin Del Potro. It has really opened up the top half of the draw, although the first look at the draw looks like the bottom half is loaded with the talent that are most likely to win the event.

Rafael Nadal could be the big winner in the section now that Djokovic is out, but I would suggest that players like Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils would be favourites to at least reach the Final next Sunday if they had been in the top half rather than bottom half of the draw.

I would love to see Del Potro continue his run all the way to the Final, but it looks tough and Andy Murray is now a strong favourite to go and win a second Gold Medal at the Olympic Games. He has a decent run before the Semi Final and I'd back Murray to beat anyone he faces at that stage, although momentum built up at the end of the week is important.

The Women's draw has seen the majority of the big names work their way through to the Third Round and so there should be some quality matches out on the courts on Tuesday. It has also been a good tournament for the picks being made so far from this tournament as I look to make another dent in the season totals and continue the momentum that has been built up from Wimbledon through to last week.

Like Monday, I will add the picks from the Olympic Games in a few hours once all the markets have been released.

Ekaterina Makarova + 3.5 games v Petra Kvitova: The Third Round of the women's Olympic Games Singles event begins on Tuesday and Ekaterina Makarova will know she needs to be a little more solid if she is going to get past fellow lefty Petra Kvitova to move into the Quarter Final.

Both times this week Makarova has had to come from a set behind to win her matches while Kvitova has made light work of Timea Babos and Caroline Wozniacki. The former two time Wimbledon Champion has dropped just nine games in four sets to move into the Third Round and that form makes her a very dangerous opponent for Makarova in this one.

However it is Makarova who has gotten the better of Kvitova in their recent matches having won three of the last four including both played this year. The win on the Miami hard courts might be the most revealing one as those courts tend to play a little slower like they have felt in Rio this summer and Makarova has the ability to give Kvitova all sorts of problems on the court.

Makarova hasn't been in the best form since Wimbledon, but she enjoys this match up and Kvitova has not often managed three wins in a row over the last twelve months. Kvitova has only managed to do that twice since the US Open last year and she will be feeling the pressure against someone who has gotten the better of her in recent matches and I will take the underdog with the games in hand.

Daria Kasatkina - 2.5 games v Sara Errani: Both of these players have had to come from a set behind in the First Round at the Olympic Games before securing much more routine wins in the Second Round. Now Daria Kasatkina and Sara Errani play one another for a place in the Quarter Finals of this tournament and I think it could be a long drawn out match.

Even a straight sets match would be a long one as both Errani and Kasatkina are very comfortable in rallies and looking to outlast their opponent. There is a little more power behind the Kastakina game which might see her dictate more points though, while the Errani serve continues to be one of the most vulnerable shots in the women's game.

The title win in Dubai is the reason why Errani's best results have come on the hard courts this season, but she didn't play well on the clay which was a surprise. Also, take away the five wins she had in Dubai and the Italian would be just 7-7 on the hard courts this season and I can see Kasatkina being too good for her if she makes use of the return games.

The Kasatkina serve can be an issue at times, but she showed she can deal with similar players like Errani in her run to the Canadian Premier Event Quarter Final. I do have to respect Errani for looking strong so far this week, but I think Kasatkina will be a little too good for her when it is all said and done and move through with a 63, 36, 63 win.

Angelique Kerber - 4.5 games v Samantha Stosur: This might look a lot of games on paper for Angelique Kerber to cover, but I think the German is rounding into some strong form and can beat Samantha Stosur for a place in the Quarter Final. Kerber's experiences in the Grand Slams this season would have given her plenty of confidence to take into the tournament and she is playing the big points very well so far in Rio.

It was playing the big points effectively that helped Kerber beat Eugenie Bouchard on Monday, especially in the second set when she managed to win four of five games that had been at 30-30 or Deuce. Those moments build further confidence in a player who reached the Semi Final in Montreal ten days ago and Kerber is also pretty comfortable with the match up with Sam Stosur.

As big as the Australian's first serve can be, Kerber is certainly an effective returner and her movement around the court can eventually see Stosur make errors. More importantly is the match up of the Kerber forehand which naturally goes into the weaker Stosur backhand wing and that can earn the short ball and give Kerber the advantage.

Kerber has won three of the last four matches between the players and all of those wins have come on the hard courts. The German would have covered this number in each of those wins too and I think she will get the better of Stosur who has been inconsistent all season and who might not be able to rely on her first serve getting her out of jail in this one.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Elina Svitolina: It always looked like being a tough Second Round match for Serena Williams when she faced off against Alize Cornet if only from a mental perspective. The American spent the first set battling with her emotions as well as her opponent, but Serena Williams rolled through the second set and should be a lot freer with her actions on Tuesday.

At least she will have had the time to get ready to face Elina Svitolina who has proven to be a tough competitor but one who is perhaps lacking the consistency to challenge the very best players on the Tour. The Ukrainian has come through two matches where she has needed three sets to see off opponents and now the level of her opponent is raised significantly from what Svitolina has dealt with so far.

The problem I see for Svitolina is that her serve is not the weapon that it should be and she is likely to throw in a really poor set where she struggles to hold. That is not good news when facing someone as good as Serena Williams and I can see the American proving too good for her like she was when they faced off at the French Open in May.

The two previous hard court matches between the players have been competitive, but this match very much depends on the Serena Williams racquet. After coming through the Second Round as effectively as she did, I think Williams will get her nose in front in this one and then run away for a 63, 62 win.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Evgeny Donskoy: There will have been a few players that would have hoped they were in the top half of the Olympic draw after seeing Novak Djokovic knocked out in the First Round. Unfortunately for these two players that is not the case, but David Ferrer and Evgeny Donskoy won't be looking too far ahead as they meet in the Second Round.

This is the second time in the space of a few months that Ferrer and Donskoy will play one another and the latter will be hoping for much better than winning three games in three sets at the French Open. Donskoy has to feel the hard courts gives him better chances against Ferrer, especially as the latter is not quite as quick around the court as he used to be, but the conditions in Rio might be suiting the Spaniard more.

It has looked pretty difficult to hit through the court (unless your name is Juan Martin Del Potro) and that should mean Ferrer is able to make enough balls back to extract mistakes from Donskoy. While the Russian has had his strongest results on the hard courts, those have come at Challenger and Qualifier level and he has come up short against the better players on the main Tour.

Ferrer has definitely slipped and is now outside of the top 10 in the World Rankings, but he should still have too much for Donskoy. The Ferrer serve is a weakness but I can see him earning three or four breaks of serve which should produce a 64, 63 win for the veteran.

Steve Johnson - 4.5 games v Gastao Elias: It has been a promising few months for Gastao Elias who has moved up to Number 6o in the World Rankings but the positive results have been built on the clay courts. In fact this is just his fourth hard court match of the season and Elias' win over Thanasi Kokkinakis has to have an asterisk attached considering Kokkinakis was coming off a big injury.

This should be a much bigger test for Elias as he faces Steve Johnson who has been in fine form since June and should be capable of breaking into the top 20 of the World Rankings in the coming weeks. The hard courts have been his favoured surface in his career, which is no surprise for an American player, although Johnson has been a little inconsistent on the surface in 2016.

The return game can sometimes be a little weakness for Johnson but his serve is strong and he should have success against the Elias second serve in this match. The longer the rally goes, the more it should favour Elias, but Johnson can play quick strike tennis when his forehand is in form and I think he will be too good on the day.

I do think Johnson will have the majority of the break point chances in this one and that can lead to a 64, 63 win for the American and a place in tomorrow's Third Round.

Rafael Nadal - 4.5 games v Andreas Seppi: The one concern I have in backing Rafael Nadal in this Second Round match is how the wrist is feeling after being off the Tour since May. He has been playing Doubles as well this week so I am guessing Nadal feels strong, while he has to be motivated from the chance of winning a second Gold Medal now that Novak Djokovic is out of the draw.

Nadal looked good in the First Round win over Federico Delbonis, but Andreas Seppi should pose more problems in this one. On the other hand, the Italian is a little fortunate to have made it through to the Second Round having just about edged out Illya Marchenko who was arguably the better player in their First Round match.

It is Nadal who has won six of their previous seven matches, but I think it is right to also point out they are 1-1 on the hard courts and both matches have been highly competitive. The last of those did come back in 2009, but it shows that Seppi won't be overawed by the occasion although I am not convinced he is at full health for this match.

Seppi has also had a difficult time finding his consistency on the hard courts in 2016 and Nadal has played well on the surface with a Final in Doha and Semi Final in Indian Wells under his belt. The Nadal serve can be a problem, but he should have a fair few chances to break the Seppi serve too and I think the Spaniard can move through to the Third Round with a 75, 63 win.

David Goffin - 5.5 games v Dudi Sela: This is a lot of games being asked of David Goffin to cover, but I think the match up with Dudi Sela will give him every chance of doing that. Both players have a similar style on the court, but Goffin is more effective consistently and that can prove to be a major difference between the two players in this Second Round match.

Neither player can really point to a terrific serve to get them out of a jam, but they will look to dictate the points behind the first serve. Both will rally from the back of the court and the key will be which of either Goffin or Sela is able to keep the unforced errors in check for long enough to win the match.

I do believe Goffin's first serve is slightly more effective than Sela's though and I think the Belgian is also the stronger returner of the two players. Putting those together should mean it is Goffin who has the majority of break point chances in this one and converting his chances should mean being firmly in control of the match.

Sela can be competitive in matches, but this looks a bad match up for him on paper and I think he might be worn down in a 64, 62 win for David Goffin.

MY PICKS: Ekaterina Makarova + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Daria Kasatkina - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
David Goffin - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)

Olympic Games Update: 12-8, + 4.78 Units (40 Units Staked, + 11.95% Yield)

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