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Friday, 9 September 2016

US Open Tennis Day 12 Picks 2016 (September 9th)

The women's Final was being put together on Day 11, but on Day 12 it is the turn of the men as we get to see two quality looking Semi Final matches.

All four men left in the draw have to feel they have some chance of winning the title in Flushing Meadows, although Novak Djokovic is going to be the clear favourite. No one really knows how healthy the World Number 1 is as he has barely needed to win matches to get into the Semi Final, while the two men in the other Semi Final have both had big Grand Slam wins over Djokovic in the past.

The Wild Card is Gael Monfils who is playing well enough to win the tournament, but who has not played a lot of these big Grand Slam matches with this being just the second Grand Slam Semi Final he will have played.

Gael Monfils + 2.5 sets v Novak Djokovic: I don't remember the last time there would have been a run like this in a Grand Slam where a Semi Finalist has only won two completed matches to get into this Round. Novak Djokovic has had a couple of injury worries heading into the tournament, but he has openly admitted he is glad to have been given the help of one walkover and two retirements to aid him through the draw.

We simply don't know how Djokovic is feeling with the suggestions he would not have played this tournament if it had not been a Grand Slam event. He has yet to be truly tested but there have been signs that his serve is still a problem for the World Number 1 and I do think Djokovic is at his most vulnerable in any Grand Slam event he has played in recent years.

While I have no doubt that whoever awaits in the Final would not be overawed by Djokovic and the challenge he brings, Gael Monfils is a different story. The Frenchman is arguably playing the best tennis of his career, but he is in just a second Semi Final at this level and the first since the French Open in 2008. He has played in a Quarter Final at the Australian Open this season and it was only a couple of years ago that Monfils was 2-0 up in sets against Roger Federer before missing match points and going down in five sets in the Quarter Final.

Monfils has been serving well but has to accept that Djokovic is going to get more balls back in play than any other player on the Tour. He can't let that frustrate him while Monfils can take advantage of the Djokovic serve if there are still some troubles on that shot for the favourite.

That serve has been broken in every match he has played beyond one set in this tournament and Monfils should be stronger than when they met in the Semi Final in Toronto. That match came after Monfils had won the tournament in Washington in the week prior to Toronto so fatigue might have played a big part in the way that match went down as the Monfils second serve was dismantled by Djokovic.

While he has spent more time on court, Monfils should be fresher for this match than in the Toronto Semi Final having come through with the confidence of winning every match without dropping a set. He has given Djokovic trouble when producing his absolute best on the court and Monfils is close to that level while the doubts about Djokovic's fitness could also play a part in this Semi Final.

All things considered, Monfils looks a big price to simply win a set in this one and I will be looking for him to do so.

Stan Wawrinka v Kei Nishikori: The second Semi Final looks like another where you can get the popcorn out and look forward to a match with plenty of big shots and drama involved. Both players have had to come through difficult Quarter Final matches and their previous matches have been competitive which makes this is a tough one to pick the winner from between Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.

I have to say I am a little surprised that it is Nishikori who has been set as the favourite as I actually thought Wawrinka would be the favourite when the Semi Final was put together. Yes, Nishikori beat him in Cincinnati and also two years ago at the US Open, but between those matches there was a really straightforward win for Wawrinka at the Australian Open.

The Swiss player does have the heavier groundstrokes, but I think Nishikori is the more consistent player of the two which makes this a very intriguing match. If Wawrinka is feeling the ball off his racquet as he was against Juan Martin Del Potro, he is going to be tough to stop at the business end of a Grand Slam tournament and my lean is that he is peaking at the right time.

Two years ago we saw Nishikori dig deep until he had nothing left by the time he reached the Final here. He has not been pushed outside of the match against Andy Murray, but I don't think you can look to any physical issues to prevent Nishikori finding his best tennis. His win over Wawrinka in Cincinnati will boost the confidence, but I think Wawrinka is in stronger form at this moment than he was a couple of weeks ago.

I also think the Nishikori serve can be vulnerable at this level of tennis and I do feel there are enough factors to back the underdog in this one. You can't always tell which Wawrinka will turn up day to day, but he has looked like he is more focused after coming close to exiting the tournament against Daniel Evans last week and I do think he can win this one outright and move into another Grand Slam Final.

The keys for Wawrinka will be to serve well and use patience on the court to curb the unforced errors that Nishikori will feed off. There will be times that Nishikori gets into the zone, but punishing the serve will put more pressure on the Japanese player and I think Wawrinka is capable of doing that in a four set win.

MY PICKS: Gael Monfils + 2.5 Sets @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka @ 2.25 Bet Victor (2 Units)

US Open Update: 37-37, + 5.86 Units (140 Units Staked, + 4.19% Yield)

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