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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Tennis Picks 2016 (August 4th)

While only the hard core tennis fans will be really interested in the tournaments being played on the Tour this week, most others might be anticipating the draw for the Olympic Games which will be made on Thursday.

The actual tennis tournament will begin on Saturday and go on for nine days through to a week on Sunday although the latest player to pull out of the event was Stan Wawrinka who has a back issue that needs rest. While the Olympic Games is important, Wawrinka made the right decision with two big Ranking events played in August, the latter being the start of the US Open in New York City.

The Swiss team will be missing Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic while Martina Hingis has been left without a Mixed Doubles partner just days before the tournament was to begin.

I am guessing most players just want to get the tournament going now after the negative headlines regarding the players that won't be in Rio, but one returning player is Rafael Nadal who has announced that he will play in the Olympic Games. I hope that turns out to be the right decision with a sore wrist an issue, especially as any setback would likely see Nadal join Federer in sitting out the remainder of 2016.


After a poor opening couple of days, Wednesday has proved to be a more positive day of picks and I am looking for Thursday to back that up. That would give me some further momentum to take into a very big month of tennis if I can produce another winning week to back up a positive July and keep things ticking over in the direction I want.


Horacio Zeballos - 1.5 games v Tobias Kamke: The tournament in Atlanta is going to give some of the lower Ranked players a chance to earn some important points and both Horacio Zeballos and Tobias Kamke have to be looking at this event in that way. Neither player has a really strong record on the hard courts, but it is Zeballos who is already in a position to Qualify for the US Open directly.

That is because Zeballos has played more tournaments at the main Tour level compared with Kamke who is outside the top 100 in the World Rankings. Like his opponent, Kamke has been spending a lot more time on the clay courts than the hard courts this season but he has already lost here in Atlanta this week and only got into the main draw as a Lucky Loser.

Kamke did beat Sergiy Stakhovsky in the First Round in two tie-breakers which should give him confidence, but Zeballos had a really strong performance in his own win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. If the Argentinian is serving as well as he was a couple of days ago, Kamke is going to have a difficult time getting into position to break serve and that is why I give Zeballos the edge in this Second Round match.

There are some clear limitations to the Zeballos game, but he should have his own chances to break serve against a vulnerable shot that Kamke possesses. I wouldn't be surprised if we do three sets in this one as I am not convinced Zeballos can reach the same level he did in the First Round, but he should eventually come through 46, 64, 63.


Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Julien Benneteau: Only a Protected Ranking has given Julien Benneteau a way into this draw in Atlanta, but there is a lot of work ahead of him to improve his Number 406 World Ranking. The veteran Frenchman has been hit by the injury bug over the last couple of years which has hurt him, but there is still some fire that is burning in his belly to get back to the upper level of the Tour.

This might not be the match up that Benneteau would have wanted as Fernando Verdasco used to get the better of him when the former was in his prime. These players met four times between 2006 and 2013 and Fernando Verdasco won all four while dropping a single set.

You can point out that Verdasco is not the same player as when they last met in 2013, but this summer has been strong for him. He reached the Final in Bastad on the clay courts and Verdasco was dominant in his First Round win over Dusan Lajovic, far more comfortable than the final score might suggest.

If Verdasco is serving as well as he was, he will put Benneteau under pressure although I do have a healthy respect for the Frenchman. The faster surface should suit Verdasco and I think he can just get the better of Benneteau over the course of this match thanks to having a few more break points against a player still trying to find their consistency on a return to the Tour.


Timea Babos - 3.5 games v Ana Bogdan: It does seem strange to be writing about a Semi Final in a tennis tournament for a Thursday, but that is the case in Florianopolis where the organisers want to conclude the event before the Olympic Games tennis tournament begins on Saturday.

The first Semi Final is between Ana Bogdan and Timea Babos and the latter is a significant favourite in the match. I can't argue with that and I do think Babos can get the better of Bogdan on a hard court with the momentum she has built up through the week.

Bogdan spends the majority of her time playing clay court events and this is only the second hard court event she has played this week. However the Romanian has to be respected having played some solid tennis in Stanford before heading to Florianopolis where she beat the Number 1 Seed Jelena Jankovic and is yet to drop a set this week.

However this isn't a player that has had a lot of success at this level on this surface and Babos has played well enough to think she will have her successes in this one. She has a solid serve, even if it wasn't at its best on Wednesday, and Babos has enjoyed some really strong runs on the hard courts at the main Tour level over the last twelve months.

She can battle past Bogdan in this one with a 64, 64 scoreline taking Babos through to the Friday Final.


Monica Puig - 1.5 games v Irina-Camelia Begu: The second Semi Final in Florianopolis at least has a real look of a WTA Semi Final at this level. Both Monica Puig and Irina-Camelia Begu have been in fine form through this week against opponents that have been overmatched, but my lean is towards the favourite.

Out of the two players, Monica Puig has looked much more steady and she has been serving well. Puig has only been broken twice this week and has won at least 69% of the points behind serve in each match which should mean she can put some pressure on Begu in this match.

That pressure will increase if Begu is perhaps not serving as well as she could. Begu has been broken six times this week and twice has lost 41% of the points behind serve and Puig has the game to keep that going and create chances to break serve in this match.

It was Begu who won a very close match against Puig when they played on the clay courts in Charleston, but I do think the latter is a stronger hard court player. It has been feast or famine for Begu on the hard courts in 2016, but Puig has shown a little more consistency while I do think her serving has been in a superior place this week which can give her the edge in this match.

I wouldn't be surprised if it is close, but I am looking for Puig to produce the goods at the big moments and work her way to a 63, 36, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Horacio Zeballos - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Timea Babos - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Monica Puig - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-2, + 8.60 Units (16 Units Staked, + 53.75% Yield)

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