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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (June 30th)

The rain looks to be shifting from London and the South Coast of England in time for the Eastbourne tournament and the Wimbledon Qualifiers to be completed on Friday.

The Qualifiers have actually had to extend into Friday as they couldn't be completed in time thanks to the rain around, while the players in Eastbourne had a really busy afternoon with most of them having to win two matches on the same day to advance to the Semi Final and keep that tournament on track.

Some rain remains which means I wouldn't be surprised we either see a delay to the start of proceedings at Eastbourne on Friday, and perhaps another delay in the afternoon, but we are down to the final four in both ATP and WTA events and should be able to get through the schedule.

The Semi Finals are also played in Antalya on Friday to ensure events are completed by Saturday and players involved can make their way to SW19.

Speaking of Wimbledon, the draw for the Gentleman's and Ladies' tournaments will be made on Friday morning and I should have a breakdown of the event ready to go by Saturday with first picks from the tournament's opening day ready by Sunday afternoon.

The tennis picks had a rough day on Thursday with little luck going my way. Seeing Fernando Verdasco blow a huge lead in his loss to Adrian Mannarino summed things up, while I didn't catch the late breaks I needed to finish with a better set of results than I had.

It was frustrating when it looked to at least be salvaged by Verdasco, but hopefully I can put an exclamation mark down on the week and then move into Wimbledon with some momentum.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Daniil Medvedev: The last two weeks have been so strong from Daniil Medvedev that it might seem strange to oppose him here with the vulnerable looking Novak Djokovic who is still struggling for his consistency. Another strong run on the grass courts will give the young Russian plenty of confidence to take into Wimbledon, and any fears about the shoulder issues should have been put to the back of the mind.

The returning stats have been particularly favourable for Medvedev and he has had some strong wins over decent grass court players during this portion of the season.

That does make the Russian dangerous, but I think Novak Djokovic has played some pretty solid tennis so far this week as he has protected the serve and also made enough returns to put opponents under pressure. Granted wins over Vasek Pospisil and Donald Young are not the most inspiring of results, but Djokovic has knuckled down and controlled those two opponents which is impressive considering where his mind is supposed to be.

His own return stats have been strong, but the serve makes or breaks Djokovic and he has been looking decent on that side too. Of course he is dealing with power from Medvedev like he hasn't seen a lot of this week, but I also can't ignore Medvedev being broken by the opponents he has been broken by on the grass.

Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey, Robin Haase and Steve Johnson are not the best returners out there but have gotten the handle on the Medvedev serve at times. Grigor Dimitrov had considerable success against the serve and I think Djokovic will be able to do the same which can help him come through this one 6-3, 6-4.

Richard Gasquet - 1.5 games v Gael Monfils: I will admit that I picked Gael Monfils to beat Richard Gasquet in Halle and there were a couple of reasons for that. The main factor in play was that I felt Gasquet's back issues would prevent him being able to make the consistent attacking plays to silence the Monfils push, but it has turned out that Gasquet has been feeling pretty good.

The move back to the grass can be easier on the body than the clay courts and Gasquet has thrived with a Semi Final run in Halle last week followed by doing the same here in Eastbourne. Gasquet looked impressive in beating Kevin Anderson and John Isner on Thursday, but those weren't taxing matches so I am not worrying about fatigue being a real issue for him.

Monfils has played well this week with a solid win over Bernard Tomic the stand out win, but his performances on the grass have not been as good as they perhaps should have been. The big first serve is a dangerous weapon for Monfils, but Gasquet will look to dictate on the second serves and he has been returning well over the last two weeks.

The serve has not been as dominant as Gasquet would have liked, but he has been winning plenty of points behind it and I think he can win this one. It may take three sets as it has when Gasquet beat Monfils in Marseille and Halle, but I think he can still cover this number of games.

Caroline Wozniacki - 4.5 games v Heather Watson: I have backed Heather Watson on a couple of occasions already this week and the British player has come through for me on her run to the Semi Final. She has played well and a change in tactics which has seen Watson attack the net has also been paying off for her.

The return game has benefited from the aggressive approach, although a couple of the wins she has had a perhaps over-rated by the opponent name rather than the form they have been in.

That won't be the case if Watson is able to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the Semi Final as the former World Number 1 has once again produced some solid tennis at Eastbourne. The serve has been effective enough, but it is the dominance Wozniacki has shown on the return which is going to put Watson under some real pressure.

The defensive work done by Wozniacki is the most noticeable facet of her tennis, but the Dane has been hitting through the court very well here and I think she may just have the edge over Watson despite the upturn in form displayed by the latter.

No one can doubt this is a lot of games being given to Watson, but Wozniacki is capable of breaking down her game and perhaps making enough passes to force the British player to second guess her winning game plan. The first set should be competitive, but I will look for Wozniacki to continue producing the strong return numbers that can see her come through with a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 games v Johanna Konta: Winning Wimbledon is obviously the aim of any player in the draw in Eastbourne, but there is extra joy for Johanna Konta who calls this her home. She would love to head to SW19 with the title in the bag, but Konta will have to get the better of Karolina Pliskova who has given her plenty of trouble in their career matches.

The last time they met saw Konta beat Pliskova for the first time at the sixth attempt, but she has lost all three previous matches on the grass including here in Eastbourne last year. On this surface the Pliskova serve is a huge weapon and it has proved to be the difference maker in the matches between these players with the Czech player able to do enough on the return of serve to put the pressure on Konta.

Both have had some solid wins here this week, although the Konta bang on the head at the end of her Quarter Final win over Angelique Kerber has to be a concern. She has been given the all clear, but Konta may still have that on her mind in this one.

Even if she is feeling at 100%, Konta has had some issues getting to grips with this serve that Pliskova possesses. She dealt with it well enough in Hong Kong last year, but on the grass Pliskova has a potent weapon and it has put the pressure on Konta to the point that her own serve begins to offer up some mistakes.

I think that could be the outcome of this one too and I am looking for Pliskova to come out with a three set win and I would think she can cover this number too.

Marcos Baghdatis + 2.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: Recent weeks have seen Marcos Baghdatis struggling with fitness and form, but he has produced three solid wins so far in Antalya this week. That has moved him into what is a rare Semi Final these days and Baghdatis will be keen to make full use of that.

He is still one of the more accomplished grass court players out there, but Baghdatis has been set as the underdog against Yuichi Sugita who has produced plenty of wins on the surface over the last month.

The numbers have highlighted how well Sugita has been playing on the grass and he will be a threat to Baghdatis. However the Cypriot has been serving very well this week and been looking after the second serve and I think that gives Baghdatis every chance to keep this one close.

Baghdatis has been returning well this week too and Sugita's serve is one that can usually be attacked despite how well he has put that shot across in recent matches. I was tempted to pick Baghdatis outright to win this one, but getting these games in the pocket could mean that I am not waiting until the end of the match to confirm a winner.

I really believe Baghdatis can win this match, but I don't want the potential need to win a tight final set to bother me. Instead I will be looking for the first two sets to be split at the least and that should give Baghdatis room for a cover in the final set, although I am not completely ruling out the Cypriot winning this one in straight sets with the manner of his performances in the last few days.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis + 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 13-15, - 6.40 Units (56 Units Staked, - 11.43% Yield)

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