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Monday, 12 June 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (June 13th)

Both the ATP and WTA Tour have moved onto the grass court tournaments as preparation for Wimbledon begins in Hertogenbosch, Nottingham and Stuttgart this week.

Next week the bigger events take place with a couple of ATP 500 events and the important WTA tournament in Birmingham which is when the really big names are all taking part to get themselves ready for the third Grand Slam of the season.

It was a mixed start to the week for the tennis picks with the two women's matches both landing the wrong way, but the two men's matches at least preventing it being a really poor day. There are plenty of matches scheduled for Tuesday as the events this week really get going, but finding the right angles is the key with the move from the clay onto the grass courts a difficult transition for players.

Andrey Kuznetsov - 1.5 games v Jerzy Janowicz: One of the big criticisms you can have of both of these players in their careers is that they can be guilty of playing some really sloppy tennis to go with the big hitting that can impress. The reason I am backing Andrey Kuznetsov to get the better of Jerzy Janowicz is the latter is still on his way back from a long term injury and the former is someone who is more than capable on the grass courts.

It feels like Janowicz is being priced up as the player who once reached the Wimbledon Semi Final, although that was a stunning run at the Slam rather than the culmination of a strong set of results on the grass. His game is well suited to the surface which isn't a surprise considering the size of the serve, but Janowicz is just as capable of throwing a stinker of a service game with double faults and poor shot selections likely to hold him back.

The Janowicz return game is still a considerable weakness in his game and he may have some troubles dealing with Kuznetsov's serve as long as the Russian is producing something like his best tennis. My concern in backing Kuznetsov is that this is a player who can go on a long run of making unforced errors as his aggressive style means he has a very small margin of error off the ground.

Kuznetsov and Janowicz will both make their mistakes in this one and I wouldn't be surprised if we need to go into a third set to determine a winner. However I do like the current form of Kuznetsov compared to Janowicz who is trying to rediscover his form on the Tour and the fact the former has produced some decent tennis on the grass courts in his career.

After a battle, Kuznetsov can work his way to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win.

Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 games v Gilles Simon: There have been considerable signs that Gilles Simon has slipped from the level he once had and he looks to be a declining force on the Tour. His opponent in this one is another veteran of the Tour but Feliciano Lopez is still playing at a slightly higher level than the player on the other side of the net.

You would also think the grass courts would favour Lopez more than Simon even if the Spaniard has underachieved on this surface over the last couple of years. Early losses makes this a tougher match to get a read on, but Lopez has matched up well against Simon in his career too which should give him an extra edge.

There have been some solid performances from Simon on the grass which should mean he is given some respect, but I think he will be put under pressure from Lopez. The serve is followed by decent volleying and I am not sure Simon's defensive moment is as good as it once was, while the Simon serve is much more attackable.

I will be looking for Lopez to produce a solid serving day to keep the pressure on Simon and force him to try and pass at the net. Added to that will be a solid slice that Lopez can use to extract some mistakes from Simon off the low ball and also as a way to get to the net and keep the Frenchman trying to pass for much of the match.

That pressure should be enough to help Lopez come through with a 7-6, 6-4 win and move into the Second Round here in Stuttgart.

Jeremy Chardy v Florian Mayer: It looks like Florian Mayer will come in as a slight favourite to win this match, but I think the underdog Jeremy Chardy may surprise him. Mayer is considerably higher in the World Rankings, but he has some significant points to defend in the next two weeks which may put some pressure on the veteran German who has been having a tough season.

That is not to say that Chardy has had a really strong season, but he has been putting up more wins than Mayer in recent weeks. The move to the grass courts should help Mayer as he has shown strong form on the surface in the past, but I think he is perhaps overrated by the Quarter Final run here and winning the title in Halle last year.

Chardy is comfortable on the grass himself having reached the Fourth Round at Wimbledon previously, but he didn't have a great 2016 on this surface. There was some misfortune attached to at least one of the losses he had last year and I like the fact that Chardy should have the edge when it comes to the serve in this one.

That can be very important on the grass courts, while Chardy might have the superior forehand in this one too. Serving well and being able to follow with that shot should give Chardy a chance of earning the upset against Mayer who will be using more variation than the Frenchman. However I think Mayer will be put under pressure from Chardy's power and it is the latter who may come out with a narrow win.

He has never lost to Mayer before which may help mentally at key times in this one, especially if it is a tight match as I am expecting. Chardy can make that count with the win as his return game does enough damage to beat Mayer and move into the Second Round.

Adrian Mannarino - 1.5 games v Jordan Thompson: After a run to the Final of the Challenger event in Surbiton last week, you can understand why Jordan Thompson is only a narrow underdog to Adrian Mannarino in this First Round match in Hertogenbosch. Having the grass under his feet compared with the Frenchman who is playing his first competitive match on the surface could be important for Thompson.

On the other hand, I think that run might also have seen Thompson become a little overrated for this match against a lefty who has produced some solid runs on the grass throughout his career. Mannarino has also won his first match on the grass in each of the last five seasons and he would have covered this number each time.

The serve is not overpowering, but Mannarino can make it awkward coming out of the left-handed stance. That should put some pressure on Thompson, while Mannarino has an underrated return game which is also going to cause some problems for the Australian.

Thompson will be able to rattle through some service games, but I think there will be times when Mannarino really turns the screw against him and I am giving him the overall edge in this match. I would be looking for Mannarino to perhaps ride out some early issues as he gets more comfortable on the grass courts and that can then see him take control of the match.

He may even drop the first set, but I will look for Mannarino to come through with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 games v Carina Witthoeft: There are elements of Carina Witthoeft's game that I do like and I think it should be one that transfers onto the grass courts effectively enough. This does look like being a career year for Witthoeft on the main Tour, but she has yet to really put together a strong set of results on the grass.

I do think Witthoeft will cause some problems for Coco Vandeweghe, especially when the first serve is landing. However Vandeweghe has had a lot of success on the grass courts over the last few seasons and it isn't just the big serve that has set that up.

The American has actually returned pretty effectively and perhaps that is something that will surprise some people. Vandeweghe's heavy groundstrokes find huge penetration on the grass courts and getting the first strike is very effective on this surface compared with even the hard courts and that has seen Vandeweghe dismiss some challengers very easily.

Vandeweghe has played well in Hertogenbosch where she is the defending Champion and she would have covered this number in 12 of her 19 wins on the grass over the last couple of years. In that time she is 10-1 covering this number when favoured by less than 1.40 and that is an impressive run from a player who is not as known for her return as she is the heavy serve and big forehand.

I will look for Vandeweghe to have a little bit too much for Witthoeft on both serve and return and see that lead to a 6-3, 6-4 win for the American defending Champion.

MY PICKS: Andrey Kuznetsov - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Betway (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy @ 2.20 Betway (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 1.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Coco Vandeweghe - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Betway (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 2-2, - 0.36 Units (8 Units Staked, - 4.5% Yield)

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