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Saturday, 3 June 2017

French Open Tennis Day 7 Picks 2017 (June 3rd)

The first week of the tournament is almost in the books with the remaining Third Round matches scheduled for Saturday.

Somehow the heavy thunderstorms in Paris missed the Roland Garros area on Friday which meant all but one of the scheduled matches were completed to keep the schedule up to date. They will need the same level of fortune to have the same thing happen on Saturday where the weather forecast looks tremendously poor.

The picks for the remaining Third Round matches are below even if I think some of those will have to be completed on Sunday when the second half of the week is set to begin.

Day 6 proved to be another very strong day for the picks and once more the week is moving in a positive direction.

Hopefully I can keep the momentum going in what has been a very positive first week at the French Open and look to produce a really strong set of results for this fortnight.

Kevin Anderson - 1.5 sets v Kyle Edmund: If you listen to the way the British media speak about Kyle Edmund you would think this is a player destined to win Grand Slam tournaments and reach the top ten of the World Rankings. There are times he produces some very good tennis, but I am not seeing enough from him to really believe those expectations of Edmund.

The forehand is a decent weapon, but not one that is unlikely to misfire at critical times, while he is going to offer up a chance or two on his own serve. There are times Edmund can get on a roll, but sustaining that level is going to be difficult and I think that is going to be an issue for him in the Third Round.

Edmund will be dealing with the immense power Kevin Anderson will produce on the court and the big serve is a big weapon for the South African, even on the clay courts. The performances in losses to Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Kei Nishikori over the last couple of months will only have encouraged Anderson and I do think he is going to be able to put Edmund under severe pressure which may lead to some cracks.

Even this week Anderson has looked more impressive than Edmund who has benefited from the early exit of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to pick the bones of a Renzo Olivo who was emotionally spent. That is not going to be the case in the Third Round and I would expect Anderson to be too strong for Edmund.

Some of the losses Edmund has suffered have been mighty disappointing and I can see Anderson getting a lot of weak responses from the backhand wing to help him on his way. I am anticipating Anderson wins this one in three or four sets and will look for him to do that at odds against.

Marin Cilic - 5.5 games v Feliciano Lopez: It was a long and tough battle for Feliciano Lopez before edging out his veteran peer David Ferrer in the Second Round. Having little time to recover is an issue for a veteran like Lopez and I think he is going to find it difficult to stick with Marin Cilic in this Third Round encounter.

The Croatian has won a title on the clay courts over the last two month swing, but he had a couple of really disappointing losses too. However Cilic is very comfortable on the surface and he has breezed through the first two Rounds in Paris which should mean he is fresher both mentally and emotionally than Lopez.

Cilic has a serve that can keep Lopez on the back foot and allow the former to dictate rallies. The Lopez backhand remains a significantly weaker wing of his groundstrokes and Cilic will be hitting into that wing from his forehand side.

More importantly for Cilic, he is an aggressive returner which should nullify some of the edge that Lopez has from what is a very decent first delivery. His backhand is also a steadier shot off the ground compared with the forehand which should mean Cilic is quite happy in playing a lefty who will want to attack that wing and I think it will mean Cilic is able to come through and book his place in the Fourth Round.

On this surface in the heavier conditions, I think Cilic is going to be able to wear down an opponent who may feel some fatigue in the legs after his long Second Round match. It could help Cilic come through with a fairly straight forward 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win to move through to the Fourth Round.

Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: One of the most inspiring pieces of sportsmanship was seen in the Second Round match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Nicolas Almagro as the former consolidated the Spaniard who was sobbing uncontrollably when being forced out with an injury.

While that has been the image beaming around the world, there has been something that has been flying under the radar. That is that Del Potro was suffering with an injury that had seen him take a medical time out. The big man admitted after the match that he has a couple of issues that are slowing him down and I think that could be a big problem against Andy Murray in the Third Round.

There are still some questions about Murray having been under the cosh in the Second Round against Martin Klizan in a similar display to the First Round win over Andrey Kuznetsov. Murray was able to take control of the match a little quicker, but he is not playing with the same aggression that took him to World Number 1.

The serve has been a real problem so look for Del Potro to work over the second serves he sees, although I won't be surprised if Murray spends the majority of this match targeting the Del Potro backhand. That shot really sits up on the clay courts and will allow Murray to control the point while any injury means Del Potro's movement may not be where it needs to be to beat Murray.

Murray is comfortable on the clay courts and I can see him wearing down Del Potro in this one and coming through in four sets. They will likely split two tight sets, but Murray can then start to exert the pressure to wear down his opponent and break the spirit, as well as the serve, in coming through with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win.

Pablo Cuevas - 1.5 sets v Fernando Verdasco: The first two Rounds have been tough for Fernando Verdasco who upset Alexander Zverev in the First Round. Two emotional wins, including a five setter in the Second Round, will have taken something out of the Verdasco tank, although he does hold an experience edge over Pablo Cuevas.

Cuevas is only a couple of years younger than Verdasco, but he has never really had a big impact at the Grand Slam level. He might see this as a big chance to move into the Fourth Round here in Paris which will produce a pressure of its own, but Cuevas is at least going to be a little fresher having won both matches at Roland Garros in straight sets.

The clay courts are certainly the favoured domain for Cuevas, but his serve can be a little inconsistent which will allow Verdasco to attack. He does have a steadier game than Verdasco, but the Verdasco 'high' level is above what Cuevas can produce and that has to be a concern.

However I am not sure Verdasco is able to produce that level for long enough to beat a steady Cuevas, especially not a Verdasco who fluctuates in matches as much as he does. Fatigue could be an issue and Cuevas is capable of just playing to his own pace and breaking down the Verdasco game.

They have met at the French Open before with Verdasco coming back from 2-0 down in sets to win 3-2. That was back in 2014 though and I think Cuevas now has the better game for longer and I can see the fresher player coming through in three or four sets in this one.

John Isner - 1.5 sets v Karen Khachanov: There are a lot of people out there who are tipping Karen Khachanov to be one of the stars of the ATP Tour in the years to come. The youngster may have announced himself to the casual fan with his straight sets win over Tomas Berdych in the Second Round, although Berdcyh himself mentioned something about suffering with some sort of injury that affected him.

It is a breakthrough for Khachanov who has not reached the Third Round of a Grand Slam before, but I think he may have some problems dealing with the emotions of beating Berdych. While he will hope for more, backing up such a big win can be difficult for young players, especially if John Isner is serving big and putting the pressure on Khachanov.

Isner has a decent game on the clay courts, although his return game remains fairly limited as it is on most surfaces. The Khachanov serve can be a strength when the Russian is at his best and so this is a match that looks like it could require at least a couple of tie-breakers to separate the players.

However that is where I think Isner may have the slight edge as Khachanov deals with the biggest win in his career to date. This has been a tough learning curve of a season for the young player and Khachanov may not be able to deal with the new expectations on his shoulders which can be exploited by Isner.

The losses have come by fairly standard methods when Khachanov does lose and I think Isner is going to win a couple of big tie-breakers which is going to help him come through in three or four sets. Khachanov may get frustrated when Isner is serving the big bombs past him and I think that will see the American move into the Fourth Round of another Grand Slam.

Gael Monfils - 1.5 sets v Richard Gasquet: There were big questions about the fitness of two of France's biggest male hopes in the French Open this year. Both Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils have played with plenty of quality in their opening two matches against opponents they were expected to beat, but now the competition ramps up in what is the stand out match for the home supporters on Saturday.

Matches between Monfils and Gasquet have been very competitive in the past with the thirteen previous matches split 7-6 in favour of Monfils.

The last of those came earlier this year in Marseille and was won by Gasquet, However this is a match that is going to be played in what could be awkward conditions and on a surface that may just favour the Monfils athleticism over Gasquet's shot making tennis.

With the conditions expected on Saturday, it may be tough for Gasquet to hit through the court against an opponent who will look to make as many balls back in court as possible. The aggression that Monfils does employ may also surprise Gasquet whose movement around the court is not up to the level of Monfils and may make defending those aggressive moves much more than it will for the latter.

It will be a battle with both players having their chances throughout this one. However I think the pressure will be on Gasquet to keep finding a way to make his shots and I think that will see him crack as Monfils is able to come through with a win in three or four sets and another place in the second week of the French Open.

Stan Wawrinka win 3-1 v Fabio Fognini: Fabio Fognini has recently become a father and I wonder if that is going to mellow down the fiery Italian in the final years of his tennis career. I think it probably won't, but the best days for Fognini look behind him even if he can still produce some quality tennis on the clay courts.

He is going to need to be at his absolute best if he is going to upset Stan Wawrinka who is a big favourite to move onto the Fourth Round. Wawrinka has come through a couple of rough moments to win back to back matches in Paris without dropping a set, but the Swiss player has been far from convincing in his wins.

In saying that, I expect the 2015 French Open Champion to be too good over three hours for Fognini and I do think Wawrinka will work his way through to the Fourth Round. His serve does set up a few more easy points and Wawrinka will feel he can outwork Fognini from the back of the court, although I do think the Italian can make a mark on the match.

Fognini can be hard to trust as he can sometimes mentally check out of matches, but I think Wawrinka is another who is capable of throwing in a couple of real stinkers when it comes to trying to hold serve. Wawrinka has beaten Fognini in straight sets here in Paris back in 2010 and also beat the Italian in straight sets in a best of five set match in the Davis Cup.

This time I think Fognini will showcase some of the clay court nous he has to steal a set although that might be as good as it gets for the Italian. It is likely to be a flashy match with plenty of entertaining rallies, but ultimately I think Fognini's serve will let him down more than it will for Wawrinka and I will back the latter to come through with a four set win.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 3.5 games v Alize Cornet: Any time a player returns to the Tour after a few weeks off, they do tend to struggle to find their best stuff from match to match. That was the case for Agnieszka Radwanska who had to come from a set down to win her Second Round match, although her confidence will come from the fact she seemed to show improvement set by set.

That will give Radwanska confidence to take into the Third Round match against home favourite Alize Cornet who is going to receive big time backing from the crowd. Cornet is likely to need every bit of that to overturn a record of seven losses in eight matches against Radwanska which includes losses in their last four matches against one another.

Their sole previous meeting on the clay courts also came at the French Open and ended with Radwanska winning in straight sets, albeit that match was back in 2008.

This time the feeling is we are going to see two players produce the kind of touch tennis that the French fans will really appreciate. They both have limited serves and will be looking to slice and dice, use the drop shot and plenty of mini tennis battles at the net which should get the crowd firmly involved in the match.

Cornet has two solid wins this week in Paris, which is a surprise when you think of how she played in preparation for the French Open. A lot of losses would have dented some players' confidence, but Cornet is very sure of herself, although I think that will be tested by the poor head to head with the opponent in front of her.

I think that will make a difference in the match at key moments in the first two sets competed and that is going to help the Pole move past Cornet. Radwanska will probably feel better with the match up knowing she is not going to be punished with heavy groundstrokes in this match and I think this ends 6-4, 6-4 in favour of Radwanska after an enjoyable match.

Caroline Garcia - 5.5 games v Su-Wei Hsieh: There can be some surprise names that work their way through to the second week of a Grand Slam event, but I think even Su-Wei Hsieh would be stunned if her name was still moving in the draw next week. She will need to produce a second upset of the tournament if Hsieh is going to be involved though and this match is a bigger challenge than facing Johanna Konta on the clay.

The win over Konta was a solid one for Hsieh but she was aided by someone who is not comfortable on the clay courts. Couple that with the variation that Hsieh employs and you can understand why Konta perhaps got twisted up in the First Round, but that is not likely to be the case for Caroline Garcia.

Garcia has quietly made her way through to the Third Round with two solid wins so far in Paris, and she has been returning very well in her two matches here. That is going to give her a chance to have a go at the Hsieh serve, although the key to the number is how well Garcia can serve.

She does have a decent delivery, but has to back it up effectively against someone who will look to offer different looks on the return. However I do have to say that Hsieh is not someone I consider a great returner and I do think Garcia has the edge in a lot departments in this match.

Unlike Konta, if Garcia gets into a strong position I am not sure she is going to let it go. I can see Hsieh challenging in one of the sets, but overall I think Garcia will have the break point chances to come away with a 7-5, 6-2 win in this Third Round match.

Carla Suarez Navarro - 3.5 games v Elena Vesnina: I have been taking a watching brief with Carla Suarez Navarro for much of 2017 as she has been suffering with an injury and that has led to a poor set of results. However the move back to the clay courts has seen Suarez Navarro produce more wins and she has looked good so far in Paris.

The match up with Elena Vesnina has been a good one for Suarez Navarro who has won all three matches between these players over the last fifteen months. That includes a win over her in Stuttgart on an indoor clay court a few weeks ago and Suarez Navarro will belief she can make it four in a row in this one.

There is an obvious worry in backing Suarez Navarro and that is a very vulnerable serve that Vesnina should have chances to attack. It comes down to whether Vesnina can get the first strike in on the return or whether Suarez Navarro can force the Russian to try and outwork her on the clay where the Spaniard will feel stronger on the rallies that develop past five and six shots.

Vesnina has already played quite a lot of tennis this week with both Singles matches needing three sets and also playing in the Doubles. I don't think it will be fatigue that is the problem, but Vesnina has just had some issues producing the patient tennis you need on a clay court and I think that is where Suarez Navarro can wear her down over a couple of sets.

The Russian had lost four in a row on the clay courts prior to the First Round here and Vesnina would not have got within this number of any of those. I can see this match coming down to a key point here and there and I am looking for Suarez Navarro to enforce her game on proceedings by defending the initial aggression of Vesnina and turning rallies into one she can dominate.

That should help Suarez Navarro win this match 7-5, 6-4 and move through to the Fourth Round.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Daria Kasatkina: Both of these players came into the French Open with doubts around their fitness having suffered injuries in Rome prior to the start of this Grand Slam. However both Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina have played well in Paris and this could be a very good match to watch.

I am giving Halep a significant edge in the match because I think she can get the better of the longer rallies against a player who was not in great form prior to her injury. Kasatkina did win the title in Charleston, but she had lost back to back matches to Elena Vesnina and Roberta Vinci prior to the injury suffered in Rome.

I have a lot of hope for Kasatkina to reach the pinnacle of the women's game, but I still think she can throw in a really disappointing performance from time to time. Those two losses are a real concern when facing an opponent in Halep who has been winning a lot of tennis matches over the clay court campaign.

Both players will feel this is a significant step up from the competition they have faced so far in Paris, but I think Halep is a player who will be able to raise her game a little more than Kasatkina. She has won fourteen matches on the clay courts over the last six weeks or so and she would have covered this number eleven times.

On the other hand, the two losses Kasatkina has had on the clay courts have both come in matches where the margin of victory has been five games. I am looking for Halep to get to that mark too in an entertaining encounter on Saturday.

Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 games v Carina Witthoeft: If you like your tennis to feature a lot of big hitting, this match might be the ideal one for you to enjoy. It is going to be in complete contrast to the Daria Kasatkina-Simona Halep match as I can see plenty of quick fire points as both players look to bring the forehand into play as soon as possible.

Both Karolina Pliskova and Carina Witthoeft may feel their better tennis can be produced on the other surfaces on the Tour. That is part of the reason Pliskova is not a heavy favourite to win this Grand Slam event, but the Czech player has been playing well enough to earn the edge here.

Witthoeft hits big herself and she will believe she can push Pliskova backwards, which is important as Pliskova is not as effective when trying to play on the back foot. That was part of the reason she had a hard time in the Second Round, but Pliskova has the more consistent serve and that could make all the difference when it comes down to it.

I also think Witthoeft is not as effective on the clay courts, especially not when she gets to this level and her losses have not come against anyone as strong as Pliskova. While there will be moments when Witthoeft is controlling the rallies, I think she will ultimately make too many errors and that should lead to Pliskova coming through 6-4, 6-3.

Anastasija Sevastova - 4.5 games v Petra Martic: Coming through the Qualifiers and winning two main draw matches will give Petra Martic a real boost in her World Ranking after a long lay off since Wimbledon last July. She has been playing well at the lower level of the Tour and has taken that confidence into this tournament, but this is another step up in terms of quality of opponent.

The run to the Third Round has been very clean for Anastasija Sevastova who destroyed Eugenie Bouchard in the last Round. This has been a very good clay court campaign for Sevastova and she has the confidence of winning matches at the main Tour level to get her through some difficult moments.

I think the fact we have two confident players will produce a strong tennis match, but Martic is going to find it tough to find the sustained level to match Sevastova. Martic has lost to a couple of players who are not of the same level as Sevastova over the last few weeks on her recovery to return to a tennis court and I am not sure she will be able to stay with the Latvian in this one.

Sevastova has won eleven matches on the clay courts over the last couple of months and she has covered this kind of number nine times. I am fully expecting the Latvian to put another win on the board and I think she can get the better of Martic and cover this number.

This is already the best run Martic has had at the French Open, but I am expecting it to come to an end on Saturday as she goes down to a 6-3, 6-4 loss.

MY PICKS: Kevin Anderson - 1.5 Sets @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 5.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Pablo Cuevas - 1.5 Sets @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
John Isner - 1.5 Sets @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 1.5 Sets @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka Win 3-1 @ 3.75 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Agnieszka Radwanska - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Anastasija Sevastova - 4.5 Games @ Bet365 (2 Units)

French Open Update: 39-21, + 28.80 Units (119 Units Staked, + 24.20% Yield)

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