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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (July 18th)

There were quite a few matches scheduled for Monday at the five tournaments being played this week, but I didn't really find anything but the one angle with the Carla Suarez Navarro pick.

Thankfully that was an angle that provided a winner.

On Tuesday I do have a few more matches that have interested me with plenty of First Round matches remaining at the various tournaments. Hopefully it can be a day when I build off the success of Monday and get this week into a really positive position before we reach the halfway mark.

Jiri Vesely - 4.5 games v Norbert Gombos: He can be a hard player to trust having not quite reached the level expected of him, but Jiri Vesely is comfortable on the clay courts and shouldn't be intimidated by the level of competition he will face in Umag. It has been clear from his numbers that Vesely is considerably stronger when playing at the Challenger level compared with the full ATP during his career on this surface, but this tournament is not considerably stronger than a Challenger event.

The First Round match for Vesely against Norbert Gombos is certainly more in line with the level of opponent he would meet in a Challenger and I think the Czech player is going to be too good for Gombos. You have to respect the fact that Gombos has some solid numbers on the clay, but those have come against players Ranked far below Vesely and I do think that is a difference maker on the day.

The service points won and return points won numbers come down considerably for Gombos when he has taken on top 50 Ranked opponents during his career. Life has been much tougher when it comes to trying to hold onto his serve and this could be a big problem against Vesely.

That comes down to the fact that Vesely has served and returned much better when facing the weaker level of competition in the Challengers that he seems to dominate. Vesely's serve is a weapon on either Tour, but it is the return numbers which are significantly stronger and I expect he is going to be able to make that show up on Tuesday.

These two players haven't met since 2014, but I still think Vesely's 5-1 head to head lead, 4-1 on the clay is still relevant. While Gombos hasn't made a significant move onto the main Tour, Vesely has and has also continued to prove too strong when he drops his level of competition and I like the Czech player to earn a 6-3, 6-4 win in this one.

Dusan Lajovic - 3.5 games v Thiago Monteiro: It is never an easy decision to back a player who is coming off a long week where they have either reached the Final or won a tournament. Usually it will mean shortened travel time to the next tournament and can be difficult for a player, but Dusan Lajovic won't have the same excuses having won a Challenger event in Bastad a few days ago.

Now Lajovic enters the main tournament draw in Bastad looking to back up the success of last week and being accustomed to the conditions has to help. His best work has tended to come on the clay courts and he is favoured to beat Thiago Monteiro whose best clay court work has come in South America.

However Monteiro has to be respected having spent his life playing on clay and so feeling very good on the surface. The Brazilian hasn't been in the best of form of late though and I do worry that Monteiro doesn't play the return points well enough on the clay to be a threat to significantly improve his World Ranking.

That isn't to say Lajovic is the best returner out there, but he does tend to improve when playing the Challenger kind of level and his opponent is someone he would potentially see in those tournaments. The return numbers also improve when facing players Ranked outside the top 50 and I think that is important for Lajovic who can protect his serve a little better than Monteiro in this one.

Facing a lefty could present some early problems for Lajovic, and fatigue could be another potential issue for him. However I do think Monteiro's poor returning numbers could prove to be a difference in the match as Lajovic is able to work his way to a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Elias Ymer: His best days are behind him, but Fernando Verdasco should still have enough in the locker to beat home hope Elias Ymer who has yet to make the breakthrough at the highest level in his career. Ymer did reach the Quarter Final of the Bastad Challenger last week, but this is a significant step up in class for him even if Verdasco is not the player he once was.

The serve is not working as it did, but Verdasco has been returning as well as ever in his career in 2017 and I do think he is used to playing opponents who are stronger than the one he will face in the First Round here. You can see the decline in the service numbers, but Verdasco's returning ability should keep him in a strong position in this match.

The Spaniard will certainly feel that will be the case against a limited returner like Ymer, especially when he plays at the highest level of the ATP. And it is Verdasco's returning numbers that are likely to keep the young Swedish player under immense pressure for much of this match that is the reason I am going to look for Verdasco to cover this number.

Those return numbers become much stronger when facing players Ranked outside the top 100, although Verdasco was beaten by one such player in Budapest earlier in 2017. It will take a huge upset for Ymer to be able to follow that up with his own upset considering he is 1-11 against top 50 Ranked players in his career and is likely to be in tough spots throughout this match.

As long as Verdasco is focused, it feels like he is going to be too strong and is able to battle past Ymer with a 6-4, 6-2 kind of win.

Sorana Cirstea - 4.5 games v Ana Bogdan: Two Romanian players meet in the First Round at the WTA Bucharest and I do think the higher Ranked player will be able to make it through to the next Round. That player is Sorana Cirstea who has used her success at a lower level in 2016 to help propel her back up the World Rankings in 2017 as she is back on the regular WTA Tour.

Cirstea faces her compatriot Ana Bogdan who has yet to earn the consistent results to be playing on the WTA Tour on a regular basis. The best results tend to come on the clay though and that makes Bogdan a dangerous opponent for Cirstea having also beaten her last year at the US Open.

The return game is where Bogdan has struggled to make her impact and she is going to be faced with a decent Cirstea serve. It has also meant Bogdan is perhaps under a bit more pressure to protect her own serve when making less of an impact on return as she would have liked, and I am very much expecting Cirstea to have success in those games too.

The fear when backing Cirstea is her own inconsistencies which can see her drop a set by a wide margin of games which will make covering this number almost impossible. However, Cirstea has a solid 10-3 record on the clay when facing players Ranked outside the top 100 while being Ranked inside the top 100 herself, and Cirstea would have covered this margin of games eight times in those ten wins.

It feels like Bogdan may just struggle to stay with Cirstea over the course of the match and I am looking for the latter to fight her way to a 6-4, 6-3 win.

MY PICKS: Jiri Vesely - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sorana Cirstea - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-0, + 2 Units (2 Units Staked, + 100% Yield)

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