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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

US Open Tennis Day 2 Picks 2016 (August 30th)

Recent years have seen the US Open heavily affected by the weather which sped up the decision to put a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium. This year the roof will be in play for the first time but the first couple of days looks like it won't be needed which is just Sod's Law.

The good weather does mean we will get through the entire set of matches in the First Round and get this tournament on track early on.


Grigor Dimitrov - 8.5 games v Inigo Cervantes: The last fifteen months have been tough to be a Grigor Dimitrov fan as their man has struggled for form and consistency. However there have been some signs that Dimitrov is perhaps getting his confidence back after a poor time on the Tour as he reached the Quarter Final and Semi Final of the two Masters events in Toronto and Cincinnati in the lead up to the US Open.

Of course there have still been some poor results, notably the early loss in Washington when Dimitrov was beaten by Daniel Evans, but he looks in a strong position in this First Round match against Inigo Cervantes who spends almost all of his time on the clay courts.

The Spaniard has been taking in Challenger events on the clay courts in recent weeks, but his World Ranking meant an automatic path into the US Open draw. You would be a fool to withdraw for no reason, especially with the prize money in the main draw of Grand Slam events, but I also think it is going to be tough for Cervantes to make this a really competitive match.

Cervantes has played well at times in his limited hard court matches in 2016, but he hasn't played too many of the best players. In one he did meet Milos Raonic and was dismissed while winning four games and I think Cervantes has issues on the faster surfaces because his serve is vulnerable. I expect that might show up in this one and Dimitrov can eventually wrestle control of the match in a 64, 64, 61 win.


Stan Wawrinka win 3-1 v Fernando Verdasco: There are a couple of really good looking First Round matches to be played at the US Open and this is one of those, on paper at least. The names will be familiar to many fans of tennis, but Stan Wawrinka is still at the peak of his powers compared with Fernando Verdasco whose best days might be behind him.

There is still an upset in the locker for Verdasco though as he showed when beating Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open back in January. The Spaniard has also pushed Bernard Tomic and Kei Nishikori in five set losses in the other Grand Slams this season while Milos Raonic needed to overcome Verdasco in four tough sets here at the US Open in 2015.

Verdasco has been a little inconsistent this summer, but he still has that big performance in the locker which makes him a dangerous opponent for Wawrinka. Unlike Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic, Wawrinka is far less consistent from the back of the court and can have these really terrible days in the office, while Verdasco will be confident having beaten Wawrinka at Queens a couple of months ago.

Even with that in mind, I am struggling to see Verdasco win more than a set against one of the Semi Finalists from the US Open in 2015. I do think the Spaniard can take a set though with his style of play and Wawrinka's ability to go walkabout in matches from a mental standpoint, and a small interest in the Seeded player to go through in four is the call.


Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 sets v Yen-Hsun Lu: A couple of retirements contributed to Ivo Karlovic's terrible start to 2016, but there has been a change in the last few months. Since reaching the French Open Third Round and Wimbledon Second Round, Karlovic has turned things around with two title wins and reaching the Final of another tournament.

That should give Karlovic plenty of confidence to take into this First Round match against Yen-Hsun Lu even if the big Croatian was surprisingly beaten by Juan Monaco in Cincinnati.

His opponent has had solid successes at the Challenger level, but he has been a mixed bag of results over the summer on the hard courts. Lu did reach the Quarter Final in Winston Salem last week for a boost ahead of the US Open, but he had been just 2-4 in hard court matches since Wimbledon and I do expect Karlovic to be a little too good at key moments.

Karlovic has returned well enough to think he can pressure Lu and he will be confident he can get the better of any tie-breakers they play. Previously these players are 4-4 in tie-breakers played against one another so I wouldn't be surprised if Lu is able to take a set in this one, but I think his serve is more likely to offer up the break points and Ivo Karlovic can come through in three or four sets.


Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 games v Borna Coric: This is an interesting First Round match and I have to say I feel Borna Coric might be a little overrated thanks to an impressive showing in Cincinnati. He had to eventually pull out of that tournament thanks to a knee injury after wins over Gilles Simon and Rafael Nadal, but I think those wins have the layers believing this will be closer than I do.

Feliciano Lopez reached the Final in Los Cabos and that comes after winning the title in Gstaad. I do think Lopez will enjoy the conditions in New York with the slightly quicker hard courts surely going to aid what is an effective serve, and Lopez did reach the Quarter Final here last year which highlights how good he can be on the surface.

As much as I do think Coric is going to be one of the top players on the ATP Tour in years to come, I am not sure he is quite there yet as he looks for the consistency to start moving up the World Rankings. The run in Cincinnati was a surprise considering the recent form Coric had displayed on the Tour, while Coric has also been defeated in the First Round at the last two Australian Open Grand Slam tournaments as well as the last US Open.

His serve can be strong at times, but Coric is never far away from throwing in a sloppy game too and I do think Lopez is going to be too strong. It might take four or even five sets, but I think Lopez will ultimately come through and also cover this small number.


Dominic Thiem - 5.5 games v John Millman: This has been a career year for John Millman who has almost quadrupled the most number of wins he has had in a single season on the main Tour. You have to have a lot of respect for the way Millman has performed on the Tour as he makes use of every ounce of talent he possesses, but this is an opponent who is clearly stronger than Millman.

The Australian had a really strong run in Winston Salem last week but he has been inconsistent on the hard courts through 2016 and was beaten in the First Round in Flushing Meadows last season. The confidence will be improved this time around and Millman has reached the Third Round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in Grand Slam events already this season.

It hasn't been the summer that Dominic Thiem would have expected after a really positive start to the 2016 season. The last twelve months has seen him improve markedly to the point of being a top 10 Ranked player, while Thiem has every chance of competing in the ATP World Tour Finals in November.

However he is just 1-4 on the Tour since Wimbledon and Thiem has not had a really deep run on the North American hard courts since a Quarter Final appearance in the Miami Masters in 2015. The sole victory did come against Millman though and I think the match up is one that Thiem should enjoy as he should be able to get plenty of returns in play and can use his superior groundstrokes to good effect.

In Cincinnati Thiem was a 75, 61 winner over Millman... I expect this to be a closer scoreline in the sets played, but Thiem to ultimately come through and cover this number.


Steve Johnson - 7.5 games v Evgeny Donskoy: When these players met at the Olympic Games, I backed Steve Johnson to have enough to cover a 4.5 game handicap and the American did that easily enough. Now that doesn't automatically mean he is going to be as strong when he plays Evgeny Donskoy in the US Open, but I do think Johnson will have enough in the locker to make sure he comes through this match relatively easily.

This has been a fine few months for Johnson who has put together plenty of wins which actually had him become the Number 1 American player on the ATP Tour for a week. He has since lost that place, but Johnson has a chance to move back up the World Rankings after being beaten in the First Round here last year when receiving a difficult draw as the Number 47 in the World Rankings.

Johnson has reached the Third Round once before at the US Open, but he has disappointingly been beaten in his first match in his other five appearances in the tournament. Those have come when the confidence won't have been strong as this year and he is playing an opponent in Donskoy who has struggled on the hard courts when coming up to the main Tour.

The key for Johnson with what looks a big number is serving well. Doing that will keep the pressure on Donskoy and Johnson has shown at the Olympic Games that he can break the Russian's serve and I think that will be the difference maker in this First Round match. After a tight couple of sets, I expect Johnson to break the spirit and belief Donskoy has and come through with a 75, 64, 62 win.


Kiki Bertens - 1.5 games v Ana Konjuh: There are a few really good young players on the WTA Tour who are still perhaps a little away from truly announcing themselves on the Tour. One of those is Ana Konjuh and there are some big things expected from the 18 year old in her career, although I don't think anyone should be surprised she is experiencing ups and downs on the Tour considering she is still growing into her body.

This looks a tough First Round draw for Konjuh against Kiki Bertens who had a memorable run to the Semi Final at the French Open. Winning a title and reaching the Final of another has boosted her World Ranking, but recent form has been poor and you can see why the layers are offering Bertens to win this one and asking her to cover a small number.

Bertens has lost four in a row now, but she will have seen the Konjuh game just a few months ago when they met in Miami and the Dutchwoman won that match fairly comfortably in the Qualifiers. However it came down to a lot of breaks of serve so this match could easily turn the other way if Konjuh improves in that department.

My feeling is that Bertens has just hit a wall but also had tougher matches of late. I think she is fortunate that Konjuh has been up and down herself which is no surprise for a young player and I will look for Bertens to take advantage of the added experience she has. It might not be pretty at times and there might be a few breaks of serve, while the heat and humidity is more of an unknown factor, but I do think Bertens wins this one 63, 57, 64.


Sam Stosur - 2.5 games v Camila Giorgi: You never know what you are going to get out of Camila Giorgi when she takes to the court as her form can be as good as a top 10 player, but on a bad day she looks like she has not picked up a racquet before. It has been a difficult season for the Italian who might have her first losing record in a season on the main Tour since 2013 barring a significant upturn in form over the next two months.

A First Round match against former Champion Sam Stosur looks a difficult one for Giorgi and I think the Australian will be too good for her. As weak as the backhand might be, Stosur should have more success behind the serve and is unlikely to be as guilty of as many double faults as Giorgi will be.

Those can be fatal to any chances of progressing and Giorgi has been doing a lot more losing than winning when it comes to hard court matches. In all honesty it hasn't been the most productive summer for Stosur who has been inconsistent on the hard courts and certainly might not be at 100% when it comes to what is already her weakest shot on the backhand side.

I am just not sure Giorgi is playing at the level to upset the Australian in this one and I believe Stosur is just going to hold herself together for long enough to come through 75, 64.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 8.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Sets @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Steve Johnson - 7.5 Games @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

US Open Update: 2-5, - 4.34 Units (12 Units Staked, - 36.17% Yield)

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