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Thursday, 1 September 2016

US Open Tennis Day 4 Picks 2016 (September 1st)

After a pretty crappy first two days of picks at the US Open, Wednesday proved to be a much better day with the big points being won by my players this time around. I have called for that change of fortune so was pleased to receive that although it wasn't a perfect day with a couple of the picks falling away.

However I will take that with the way the first couple of days went and I am looking to keep that momentum rolling on Thursday.

There have continued to be a whole range of retirements and withdrawals at the US Open which has become the norm in recent years with this tournament coming in the eighth and ninth month of the season. It is a long year for the players on the Tour, while the heat and humidity is wearing players down further, but it is an issue that is hard to resolve going forward. The happiest player might have been Novak Djokovic who didn't have to take to the court to reach the Third Round.

That means more chance to work on the upper arm issue which has been affecting his performances in recent weeks and avoiding having to play in the heat of the day has to be a bonus in the long run.

Day 4 at the US Open completes the Second Round but the weather might be taking a turn for the worse which means delays on most of the courts. For the first time we might get to see the roof on Arthur Ashe in action though and I am looking forward to seeing how the conditions change once the roof is over the court.

Pablo Carreno Busta - 1.5 sets v Janko Tipsarevic: It was a great win for Janko Tipsarevic in the First Round against Sam Querrey, but I am not sure how much credit the Serb gets on his own. He was once a top player on the Tour, but Tipsarevic has been struggling to match the power that other players have produced since returning from an injury and I am not sure he will have enough too cool Pablo Carreno Busta.

The last couple of weeks has seen the Spaniard moving through the gears to win a title in Winston Salem and also come through his First Round match without any issues. Pablo Carreno Busta reached the Semi Final in Los Cabos so has to be seen as being in a rich vein of form on a surface he hasn't enjoyed too much in the past.

Carreno Busta is now 9-2 this summer on the hard courts and that is going to give any player a boost in confidence. The losses to Feliciano Lopez and Gael Monfils are nothing to be ashamed of and Carreno Busta should have too much for Tipsarevic who has spent almost all of his time on the clay courts to regain confidence and rhythm.

Tipsy did win a title in a Challenger event on the red dirt a couple of weeks ago, but he is going to need to produce a high level of performance to back up his upset of Querrey. A defeat to Ze Zhang in his last hard court match before the US Open suggests it is too much to ask at this moment in his career and I think Carreno Busta moves through in three or four sets.

Juan Martin Del Potro win 3-1 v Steve Johnson: One of the matches that I am looking forward to most in the Second Round is the one between Juan Martin Del Potro and Steve Johnson. This time it isn't just as a fan hoping to see Del Potro get back to the levels that took him to the US Open title in 2009, but also because of comments made by Johnson after the Olympic Games.

For some baffling reason, there was a suggestion that Del Potro should not receive a Wild Card into the US Open despite winning the Silver Medal at the Olympic Games and being a former Champion here. Injuries have seen the World Ranking drop outside the top 100 but the USTA did make the correct decision in awarding a Wild Card to the Argentinian who was a comfortable winner in the First Round.

Before that it was Steve Johnson who had implied the fans would be 'upset' if Del Potro was given a direct entry into the draw, especially if he drew an American player in the First Round. That still sounds as ridiculous now as it did then with Del Potro being one of the most admired players on the ATP Tour and also having plenty of sympathy with the injuries he has battled through.

Therefore I wanted to see this match more than most, although Johnson almost blew the possibility after falling 0-2 down in sets to Evgeny Donskoy in the First Round. That will have taken something from him in the heat and humidity of New York City and Johnson will likely be hoping for the expected rain and being scheduled off Arthur Ashe.

I am not sure the latter will happen and I think Del Potro will be too good for Johnson despite the strong form the latter has shown since June. The Argentinian is the better returner and has the serve to make life easier for himself, although Johnson's form means he is likely to take a set in this one. Ultimately I am expecting Del Potro to battle past the American in four sets and will back him to do so while justifying the Wild Card a little more.

David Ferrer - 4.5 games v Fabio Fognini: We have already seen a number of retirements in the first few days at the US Open and the conditions has seen players fall apart over the course of these best of five set matches. They are physically very tough anyway, but in the current heat and humidity it has been even tougher for players and Fabio Fognini was perhaps the beneficiary of that as he came from 0-2 down to beat Teymuraz Gabashvili in the First Round.

The question now becomes how much has that taken out of the Fognini tank ahead of what is likely to be another tough and long match with veteran David Ferrer. The Spaniard came through is First Round match thanks to a retirement so should be much fresher than Fognini who he has beaten nine times in a row on the professional Tour.

However you would be foolish to ignore the clear signs that show Ferrer is waning in his career and he is not the player of past years that can wear down many an opponent. His loss to Julien Benneteau in Cincinnati and Evgeny Donskoy at the Olympic Games has highlighted that, but the five setter Fognini just had to play will likely give him a significant edge in this one.

Fognini is just 3-5 in Grand Slam matches following a five set win and I do wonder if he is going to have enough in the locker against a rested opponent. I do want to be opposing Ferrer more often than not going forward, but this looks a chance for him to make it ten in a row against an opponent he is comfortable playing and I think he will come through 64, 46, 63, 64.

Alexander Zverev win 3-1 v Daniel Evans: We haven't seen a lot of Alexander Zverev since he reached the Semi Final in Washington as he suffered two early exits in the next two tournaments played before the US Open. The German had to battle from a set down to beat his compatriot Daniel Brands in the First Round and now takes on another Daniel, Evans, in the Second Round.

The Great British player is up to Number 64 in the World Rankings and will have enjoyed his win over Rajeev Ram in the First Round. Evans clearly must like something in New York City as he has only been beyond the First Round three times in Grand Slams and twice it has happened here in Flushing Meadows.

Evans came through the Qualifiers last time but his Ranking meant an automatic place in the main draw this time around, while the British player has beaten the likes of Grigor Dimitrov on the hard courts this summer and also won a Challenger title. He doesn't have the biggest pop off the serve, but Evans can raise his level at times where he can go through a host of winners which makes him a dangerous opponent for someone who can be a little erratic like Zverev.

As much potential as Zverev has, he can get down on himself at times with poor body language likely to give Evans a boost when it comes to sensing the upset. I can't really see that happening in a best of five set match though with Zverev likely to have a few more cheaper points at big moments behind his serve, although I do think Evans has enough talent to take a set in this one. A small interest on the higher Ranked player to come through in four sets is my call.

Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 sets v Donald Young: I have mentioned that I have not had a lot of luck at the big moments in the last three days of the US Open and one of those that failed to get the job done for me was Ivo Karlovic. The big Croatian might have come through in five sets against Yen-Hsun Lu, but it might have been easier if he had not lost five points in a row in the third set tie-breaker when leading 4-2.

Frustration aside, Karlovic should not have been overly taxed by his First Round win as his booming serve means a lot of the games played are actually rattled through quite quickly. At 37 years old, Karlovic looks in fine shape and I think his recent form will make him a dangerous opponent for anyone in the draw even if he is ultimately going to come up against someone with a little too much quality.

That should not be the case in the Second Round against Donald Young, a player Karlovic has beaten both times they have played and is yet to drop a set against. You can see why that has potentially happened with Young perhaps overreaching in what he can do with his racquet which leads to unforced errors and dropping serve behind sloppy games.

Doing that against Karlovic is generally a fatal mistake in a set, especially on the faster surfaces, and Young has been broken five times by Karlovic in two matches. He is yet to even get beyond four games in a set against the Croatian, although Young did at least win more points on the return the last time they met in 2015.

Ultimately I think Young is going to have trouble breaking Karlovic and is always likely to throw in at least one game per set where he gives up break points. If Karlovic can take those chances when they come along, I can see him winning this one in three or four sets so I will go back to a market in which he let me down on Tuesday.

Feliciano Lopez - 4.5 games v Joao Sousa: The veteran lefty Spaniard Feliciano Lopez only had to complete seven games to move into the Second Round at Flushing Meadows after Borna Coric withdrew with an injury. That means he should be very much ready for this Second Round match against an opponent who beat him the last time they played, although I am expecting Joao Sousa to be physically good to go after coming through his own First Round match in an effective bye.

He did have to spend longer on court than Lopez, but not by much as Sousa dismissed the challenge for Victor Estrella Burgos for the loss of just two games. You can't read a lot into that match as it seems like Estrella Burgos just came to pick up his cheque, but Lopez will give Sousa a lot more to think about in this one.

2016 has been a difficult year for Sousa who won 34 matches on Tour in 2015, but has only reached 17 so far in this one. The Portuguese player is a lot more comfortable on the clay courts and has had a poor record on the hard courts through his career, especially at the main Tour level, and Sousa had been just 1-4 on this surface this summer before the easy win over Estrella Burgos.

There are times you watch Sousa and you can see how he had as many wins as he did in 2016, but more often you look at the serve and see a real weakness. He will not give up in the match which has to be respected, but I think the Lopez serve is going to be a key difference and the majority of break points will be earned by the latter. If Lopez can stay focused and take the chances that come his way, I expect the Spanish player to beat Sousa 63, 76, 46, 63.

Grigor Dimitrov win 3-1 v Jeremy Chardy: In recent years this might have been the best looking match of the entire Second Round, but both Grigor Dimitrov and Jeremy Chardy are below the levels they have set for themselves. Both came through comfortably in the First Round, but neither will be looking back on the past twelve months with too much fondness ahead of the final Grand Slam of 2016.

There have at least been signs of a Dimitrov revival, although I am not convinced he should be asked to cover as many games as he is in this one. Far too often his level has been fluctuating within matches and it happened again in the First Round against Inigo Cervantes when he was almost pushed into a fourth set.

A player like Chardy is certainly good enough to take advantage of any slips in the level, but the Frenchman has been in terrible form himself and it is hard to see him holding his own levels for long enough to win this match. Chardy had lost seven matches in a row on the hard courts prior to the win over an overmatched opponent in the First Round and I think his confidence could quickly drop if this match gets away from him.

Before that happens I think Chardy will have his opportunities though and I think he is capable of taking a set if Dimitrov loses his focus for a while as he did against Cervantes. However I think the Bulgarian has shown signs that his form is about to turn in a positive manner more consistently and I think he will eventually come through with a four set win.

Johanna Larsson - 3.5 games v Denisa Allertova: Some of Johanna Larsson's best results have come on the clay courts through her career, but she is in possession of a very solid kick serve which should make her a danger on the hard courts. The bigger issue for Larsson might be backing up the short ball she gets off that serve, but this looks a good opportunity for the Swedish player to make it through to the Third Round at the US Open.

Unsurprisingly Larsson's best Grand Slam results have come consistently at the French Open on the red dirt, but she has reached the Third Round at the US Open before. She can match that best run at a Grand Slam this year when she takes on Denisa Allertova who is coming in off an upset win over Ana Ivanovic in the First Round.

There is no doubting that Ivanovic is not the player of the past few years, but it was still difficult to know what Allertova could do considering her sole hard court match of the summer was a one sided loss to Annika Beck. Allertova has struggled for consistent results on the surface, but she did push Roberta Vinci to a close three set loss last year at the US Open and has to be respected.

However the recent form shown by Larsson means she should have plenty of confidence for this match, while backing up a big upset win is always difficult for those players who are not used to those kind of wins like Allertova had over Ivanovic. The first set is likely to be the key, but I think Larsson will be able to pull away if she takes that in a 75, 63 win.

Samantha Stosur - 4.5 games v Shuai Zhang: Friends and Doubles partners Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang will be meeting in another Grand Slam Singles tournament in 2016.

They played one another at the French Open where Stosur proved too good in a straight sets win and I think the Australian can make it two in a row against someone she will be familiar with. Of course that familiarity means Zhang will also be a little more used to dealing with the Stosur serve which is a big weapon for the Australian, but I think that is still going to be the key shot in this Second Round match.

If Stosur can get enough from that shot, it gives her the confidence to attack her opponent as she did in her win over Camila Giorgi. That was a battling display from Stosur, the former US Open Champion, against a dangerous opponent and I think she will know there won't be as many blistering winners going past her in this one.

Zhang had a special run at the Australian Open where she reached the Quarter Final after coming through the Qualifiers, but she is just 7-7 in main Tour matches on the hard courts since then. The Chinese player had been well documented as never winning a Grand Slam match prior to the run at the Australian Open, but she was beaten early at the French Open and Wimbledon, while her win in the First Round came against an overmatched opponent.

The friendship will be put aside for a couple of hours and I think Stosur will record a similar win to the one at the French Open and win this one 64, 63.

Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 games v Jelena Jankovic: It doesn't feel that long ago since Jelena Jankovic would head into the US Open as one of the real threats to go on and win the tournament. She never quite got over the line to replicate what compatriots Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic have done by winning a Grand Slam and it has now been thirteen Grand Slam tournaments since Jankovic last reached the Quarter Final.

There is a definite downward trend in the Jankovic career and her slip to Number 40 in the World Rankings shows that. Once upon a time she was reaching the business end of Grand Slam events regularly, but Jankovic has only surpassed the Second Round once in the last two years and she has four First Round losses in Slams to her name.

Jankovic is going to be pushed to the limit by Carla Suarez Navarro in this match and I think the Spaniard is going to be far too strong for her at this moment in their careers. While Suarez Navarro doesn't have the biggest serve, she is able to move the ball around the court consistently and will be able to hit through an opponent whose movement has lost half a step.

Over the last twelve months we have still seen signs of the Jankovic of old, but they have been fewer and fewer in 2016. Nowadays she is losing to players she would have beaten fairly easily in her prime, and Suarez Navarro is the superior player in this contest. If she can just hold onto her serve through a couple of negative moments, I think the Spaniard is able to come through with a 64, 63 win.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 2.5 games v Kristina Mladenovic: Last season looked to have produced the breakthrough Grand Slam for Kristina Mladenovic as a Singles player when reaching the US Open Quarter Final. However she has failed to find the consistency to back up that run and this is a very difficult Second Round match for the Frenchwoman.

This time last year I am not sure many would have picked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to be the higher Ranked player, but the Russian is back inside the top 20 in the World Rankings. 2016 has proven to be a solid year for Pavlyuchenkova, especially the latter half of the year so far and she will believe she can match the 34 Tour wins of 2015.

The serve has been working well for Pavlyuchenkova for the most part, although her limited movement around the court is always a concern. However I don't think Mladenovic is the most athletic either and she hasn't had a great summer on the hard courts while dealing with the expectation after a Quarter Final run here.

Back in 2012 Mladenovic did crush Pavlyuchenkova at the US Open as a huge underdog. They are seen as much more closely matched this time, but I expect Pavlyuchenkova to ride the momentum at key times to make sure she wins this one 63, 36, 63.

Julia Goerges + 4.5 games v Venus Williams: Somehow, someway, Venus Williams managed to hold her nerve for just long enough to come through her First Round match in three sets. It has led to the experts talking about Venus having yet another deep run at the US Open, but I am not convinced she is at 100% and someone like Julia Goerges can take advantage if the veteran is off her game.

They did meet at the end of last season and it was Venus Williams who won comfortably but she was arguably in better form when they met in Wuhan. This time around there is a feeling that Venus is not quite at the same level and I think the First Round showed that perhaps she is not at full fitness either.

Goerges is far from an ideal player to back against Venus because she can make far too many unforced errors which basically hands games and sets to opponents. However she does possess a serve that might offer up enough cheap points to keep this match competitive while I do believe she is capable of taking at least one set in this one.

This is not the Venus Williams of the same level as last season and she is losing more matches against opponents she would be expected to beat than she has previously. Unless Venus raises her level significantly from the First Round, I think Goerges can make this a very competitive match throughout and I will take the games on offer.

MY PICKS: Pablo Carreno Busta - 1.5 Sets @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Juan Martin Del Potro Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
David Ferrer - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Sets @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Johanna Larsson - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Samantha Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Julia Goerges + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)

US Open Update: 12-13, + 1.66 Units (47 Units Staked, + 3.53% Yield)

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