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Monday, 10 July 2017

Wimbledon Tennis Day 7 Picks 2017 (July 10th)

The biggest difference between Wimbledon and the rest of the Grand Slams on the Tennis Tour is clearly 'Middle Sunday' which has been left as a 'rest day' traditionally.

It also means the best day on the Tennis calendar is played on Monday when the entire Fourth Round of Wimbledon is played which means we have sixteen top matches on the same day. That is great for those at the grounds with big time matches going on around the various courts and the improvement in television coverage means the fans at home get to enjoy a number of quality matches going on at the same time.

Having cameras on all the courts means people at home can pick and choose the matches with some of the more competitive ones being played away from the show courts.

It is a great day having attended the last two years in a row and one I would highly recommend for tennis fans everywhere.

The first week of the Grand Slam is in the books and it is good news that all of my outright picks have managed to negotiate the first three Rounds at Wimbledon. This is when the challenges get much greater though and I just have to hope that those I have picked are ready to peak in the second week.

With the players remaining in the Fourth Round, Wimbledon has every chance of ending on a high with some huge matches potentially in front of us.

The weather has certainly been pretty incredible over the first week, but Monday and early in the second week it looks like it could be wetter. Hopefully the forecast has got that wrong and we can get through the Fourth Round on Monday in what looks a great day of tennis.

While the French Open Picks proved to be a big one for the season totals, the first week at Wimbledon has been a little up and down and I have been a touch unfortunate at times. Players losing deciding sets or seeing opponents retire when in a really strong position has been the reason I am slightly down on where I would have wanted to be.

Hopefully I will begin the second week with a lot more positive results and get this tournament back on track.

Marin Cilic - 5.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: This is perhaps not the Fourth Round match that most would have expected, but Roberto Bautista Agut was able to upset Kei Nishikori on Friday to earn his place in the second week at Wimbledon again. It was a surprise to see the Spaniard play the big points as well as he did considering his poor record against top ten opponents, but now Bautista Agut has to face another one.

While there are some questions for Nishikori on the grass which perhaps showed up in his loss in the Third Round, Marin Cilic is someone who has shown he loves playing on the grass. The return games that Cilic has played in the last week highlights a real danger in the draw and I am not at all surprised he is the fifth favourite to win the title behind the 'Big Four' although none of those players will take a win over the Croatian for granted.

Playing as a top ten player has clearly given Cilic confidence in the Grand Slam events and he has a strong 22-3 record in Grand Slam matches when ranked amongst the best and facing those players outside of the top ten. That records become 7-0 at Wimbledon having won his three matches this week and the fact Cilic has won at least at least 42% of return points in each of those wins shows a dangerous player for Bautista Agut to face.

The Cilic serve has been a very big weapon for him, although he will want to avoid continuing to give up the gift break of serve as he has done in the last two matches. This is arguably the best returner Cilic has faced, but Bautista Agut does struggle when facing the best players, while his own serve is one that can be attacked by someone as aggressive and confident as Cilic seems to be.

Bautista Agut does not have great numbers when facing up to top ten Ranked opponents in the Grand Slams and I think he will have a much greater test than when he faced Nishikori. He has beaten Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in 2016 which will give him confidence, but Cilic is a much tougher proposition on the grass and I think he will prove to be a solid 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 kind of winner in this one.

Sam Querrey-Kevin Anderson over 44.5 games: The layers are finding it hard to separate these two players who could be in line to face home favourite Andy Murray in the Quarter Final at Wimbledon. This time last year, Sam Querrey would have been coming in off a win over Novak Djokovic and he did go on to reach the Quarter Final, but the American is going to be facing another big server in Kevin Anderson who had a 2-0 lead in sets against Djokovic here a couple of years ago in a Fourth Round loss.

Both players have a chance to reach just their second Grand Slam Quarter Final and that should mean there is some tension in the air. Of course it is much easier to deal with that by laying down a huge serve and I think breaks of serve will be at a premium when they play on Monday.

With the heat in London, both Querrey and Anderson should be able to punish the other with the serves producing cheap points. Both have strong numbers behind serve through the first week with Kevin Anderson's numbers being particularly impressive having lost just under 19% of points behind his serve.

Querrey hasn't been returning badly, but he is someone who will be heavily reliant on his own serve too and this feels like it could be a long match. Overall I am giving the edge to the underdog Querrey who might just be the slightly superior grass court player, but Anderson is not going to give this one up easily.

I would be surprised if either player is able to win this one in straight sets with the way the other has been playing over the first week at Wimbledon. The layers aren't giving much away there, but I do think this is match will surpass the total games number if it does go into a fourth set.

With the serving numbers both have produced and the relatively limited returning stats, I can't see too many breaks of serve. A couple of tie-breakers could take a chunk out of the numbers and this match going into a fourth set should see this number surpassed with a chance of an even longer outing that goes deep into the fifth set not being ruled out.

Andy Murray - 6.5 games v Benoit Paire: The Third Round win over Fabio Fognini was a solid one for Andy Murray and it is the kind of match that will give the World Number 1 some confidence to take into the second week. Having the weekend off will be good for Murray to just get some rest into what was considered to be a troubling hip prior to the tournament, while the draw does look like it has opened up for the defending Champion.

Some will say the talent of Benoit Paire is another step up in class for Murray to deal with, especially with the three solid wins the Frenchman has had this week. However he is someone who has struggled on the grass courts throughout his career and playing the elite players on the Tour has been a tough task for him too.

Where Paire could be a threat is the way he has been returning over the last month on the grass, far better than he has in his career having show clear disdain for the surface. The last two matches have been against some decent servers too so Paire has to be respected, although the fact he is 3-14 in matches against top five players has to be a concern.

There have been good signs from Murray in his own returning games and I am not sure Paire is serving as well as the raw numbers considering his last two opponents returning issues. That is highlighted by more difficulties in the First Round and Paire is someone who will look to use the drop shot and other dubious shot selections which won't get it done against the top players on the Tour.

Losing heart could be a real problem for Paire in this one and I think that may be the reason Murray is able to pull away and cover in this one. Murray has an impressive 41-0 record against opponents Ranked outside the top 20 at Wimbledon and he is able to find the effective returning which can see him crack those players both emotionally and on the scoreboard.

In this one I am looking for Murray to ease to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 kind of win to move through to yet another Wimbledon Quarter Final.

Tomas Berdych v Dominic Thiem: This is one of those Fourth Round matches where you are likely to hear an almost 50-50 split in which of the players people will be backing to progress. The layers are no different with this match being set as a pick 'em in a number of places and I can understand the argument for both.

This might not be Dominic Thiem's favourite surface as he continues to learn about the timing of the ball, but I do think the hot weather has helped. Now the courts have been playing more like a hard court, Thiem becomes more dangerous, but he will still need to show improvement in his return game, especially converting break points when they come his way.

He can't expect to have the host of chances like Thiem managed to create against Vasek Pospisil and Gilles Simon because Tomas Berdych has been serving at a very high level this past week. While the serve has not been unbreakable, the numbers have very much favoured him and I am not surprised he has made his way through the draw in the fashion he has.

This isn't the Berdych of old though with his own return numbers not as strong as he would like, while the Czech player is a player with a losing record against top ten Ranked players at Wimbledon. However he will feel his serve will give him every chance to keep Thiem under pressure in this one as Jiri Vesely did when beating the Austrian last year at Wimbledon.

Berdych's return game is a worry, but I think he still has enough to win a match like this on this surface. His best days may be behind him and there is a decline in the performances that is evident to most, but Thiem has yet to conquer the grass and he hasn't played too many of the big names on this surface.

The Austrian is just 4-3 when playing top 50 Ranked opponents on this surface which becomes 1-1 when playing the top 20. The win did come against Roger Federer in Stuttgart last year, but I think Thiem is still not comfortable enough to beat someone like Berdych over a best of five sets on the grass courts of SW19.

Milos Raonic - 1.5 games v Alexander Zverev: I am a fan of Alexander Zverev and you can see the improvements he is making in his game on a week by week basis. In my mind there is little doubt that this is a future Grand Slam Winner, but the future is unlikely to begin at Wimbledon this week.

As well as Zverev is playing in 2017, this is the first time he will be playing in a Grand Slam going into the second week of the tournament. That inexperience could be a factor in this match, while the other factor has to be the losing record the young German has against the top ten players in the World Rankings over the last eighteen months.

In Rome there were clear sings that Zverev is getting used to playing and beating the biggest names on the Tour, but doing that over a best of five set match is still the next step needed in his development. Zverev is 0-3 against top ten players at the Grand Slams and he has just had some issues in both the serve and return department that he has not shown against players in general tournaments.

Now facing Raonic is a big challenge considering the Canadian is a former Semi Finalist and Finalist at Wimbledon. The Raonic return game has been working pretty well at Wimbledon so far, although he will be the first to admit that he has to be a little more clinical when the break points come.

They won't come easy in this one against the Zverev serve, but I do think the German can play one or two really poor service games which may prove to be very costly in this one. I think Raonic will just have the edge at the key moments of a fascinating match and he might just have enough veteran know-how to manage his way through in four sets.

I can see Zverev just offering up a couple of breaks of serve which may be the key factor in a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 win for Milos Raonic.

Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Gilles Muller: It won't be considered as big an upset by the oddsmakers as in 2005 when Gilles Muller was able to beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but on current form the general public may not see it that way. All of the focus will be on Nadal who looks to be playing the best tennis of his impressive career, but the casual fan may not realise how well Muller has been playing on the grass.

The big serving Muller is not purely about the speed of his serve, but the placement he has been getting has been fantastic and put plenty of pressure on his opponents. The numbers have remained strong over the past week at Wimbledon, but Muller will be hoping the two day rest this weekend has been enough to refill what has to be an energy tank that has been depleted.

It will certainly be tested by Nadal in the Fourth Round with the Spaniard being in fine form when it comes to his return and that has sparked the strong tennis he has shown. You can't ignore that this is the best server that Nadal would have faced at Wimbledon, but the Spaniard was impressive against Karen Khachanov and will believe that he can get the better of the rallies if he is able to make enough returns.

Playing a left hander at a Grand Slam won't bother Nadal who has gone 25-1 against them in the Slams since his loss to Muller at Wimbledon in 2005. That includes beating Muller twice including once at Wimbledon, and he has not dropped a set in either of those wins against the veteran.

Muller has lost his last four matches against left handers in the Grand Slams and this feels like a match in which he will be worn down by the clear quality Nadal has been playing with. While I do think Muller can run through some games simply with the way he can serve, I do think Nadal is going to pick up a read on the serve at some point and start to pile up the pressure on his opponent.

The Spaniard has been starting matches very quickly but he may have to wait a little longer as he breaks down Muller 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: Playing back to back five set matches in a Grand Slam is a tough ask for any player, but a daunting one for a player who is facing Novak Djokovic in his next match. If the match had been on Friday for Adrian Mannarino, maybe he would have had enough time to recover physically, but this is the normal rest time between matches at a Slam for the Frenchman.

This is a surface on which Mannarino would feel he can give Djokovic problems as he did when they played in the First Round at Wimbledon in 2016. However the accumulated fatigue is likely to be an issue at some point and Djokovic has played well through the first week of the tournament to suggest he is on the right road back after what has been a torrid twelve months relative to the standards he has set for himself.

Djokovic has been returning as well as at any point in 2017 although his supporters will know there are going to be some big challenges ahead for him in the second week at Wimbledon. He played well when winning the title in Eastbourne and Djokovic's numbers have been even better in his two completed matches at Wimbledon.

He has also been serving very well which is going to make it tough for Mannarino to find the physical energy and the emotional intensity to stay with the former World Number 1. It is Djokovic who has won six in a row against left-handed players at Wimbledon and he has produced some really good numbers in those matches, while he has won ten in a row against left-handers in Grand Slam tournaments.

At some point the time spent on court is going to catch up with Mannarino and I can see him being worn down by Djokovic in this one. Perhaps the rain can come and give the Frenchman more time to recover from the exertions of the last two Rounds, but I still think Djokovic will work his way through to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win as he shows he is rounding into form going into the business end of the tournament.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Grigor Dimitrov: The television companies and those on Centre Court will be very pleased with the match up they will have in the Fourth Round as Roger Federer takes on Grigor Dimitrov. While there will be hope for a really competitive match, I think Dimitrov has to really produce some of his best tennis to have a chance against Roger Federer who has eased through the first week.

Give the Bulgarian some credit though, he has been playing spectacularly through the first week at Wimbledon. A former Semi Finalist makes Dimitrov a threat, but his numbers have looked strong against overmatched opponents and that has not been the case when having to step up to take on the best on the Tour.

The numbers Dimitrov has produced in his three matches this week have been similar to his career numbers when facing the lower Ranked players on the grass. Dimitrov is 1-1 against top five players on the grass of Wimbledon, but that was in 2014 when surprising Andy Murray before being beaten by Novak Djokovic, while Dimitrov is now 1-5 against top five Ranked players at the Grand Slams.

Dimitrov just simply doesn't return as well as he would like against the top players when he does run into them at the Grand Slams. That has contributed to his overall 9-26 record when facing the top five players on the Tour and he may have some difficulty in getting after the Roger Federer serve consistently enough to be able to shock the favourite.

It is Federer who has won all five previous matches against Dimitrov which includes a four set win over him at the Australian Open where he would have covered this number. The Federer serve has been very strong this week in his two wins and that has allowed him to take a few swings at the return and get into a position to break opponents and come through fairly comfortably.

Federer does tend to handle those who are outside of the top ten in the Rankings when facing them at Wimbledon and he does return well against those players. I think he will be able to get into the Dimitrov service games at key times in the sets which should see Federer come through with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win.

Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: In their careers, Agnieszka Radwanksa has been more comfortable on the grass courts than Svetlana Kuznetsova and their overall body language will tell you that. It is the tournament in which Kuznetsova has had her fewest Grand Slam wins and Radwanska has had her most, but this might be the right time for the Russian to make another Quarter Final in SW19.

This week the two players have progressed through the draw in contrasting fashion and the Kuznetsova performances have been so strong that it feels like should be able to get the better of Radwanska. The returning numbers have been very strong from the Russian who has been serving pretty well too.

In contrast it has been a battle for Radwanska to come through the last couple of Rounds where she has had to come through a third set decider to progress. She has managed to ease through the decider to be fair to her, but Radwanska has to feel the amount of tennis she has had to play and her serve is one that Kuznetsova should be able to attack with confidence.

These two players are 1-1 when they have met on the grass and you have to take note of the fact that Kuznetsova has never beaten a top ten player on the grass in six previous attempts. However those have come when Kuznetsova has really struggled with her return but I am not sure Radwanska is playing well enough on her serve to keep the Russian at bay in this one.

The declining numbers of Radwanska in 2017 should come home to roost in this one and I think Kuznetsova is able to come through with a 7-5, 6-4 win.

Elina Svitolina v Jelena Ostapenko: There is much to admire about the French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko, but backing that success up with a win at Wimbledon would arguably be an even bigger surprise than her win in Paris. This is one of the more difficult doubles to pull off in Tennis in either the men's or women's game, but Ostapenko has come through a couple of sticky moments to reach the Fourth Round.

No one can doubt her ability to play on the grass considering Ostapenko is a former Junior Champion at Wimbledon. She is playing with confidence and abandon and that makes Ostapenko very dangerous for any opponent she has left to play at this tournament.

The match with Elina Svitolina is one that Ostapenko will believe she can win simply because the former hasn't shown a lot of positive form on the grass courts in her career. The run to the Fourth Round might have changed Svitolina's feeling on the grass though as she has produced three very strong performances and her more steady game might be enough to weather the storm against her opponent on Monday.

Svitolina has been serving effectively, but the key to her wins has been the aggressive returning which has put her in a position to reach her second Grand Slam Quarter Final in a row. This is already the best performance Svitolina has produced at Wimbledon and I think the numbers means she has every chance of winning a close one against Ostapenko.

As well as Ostapenko has returned, her serve can be attacked and that is where Svitolina's returning could be a deciding factor. I can see Ostapenko earning her break points, but Svitolina can serve well enough to put Ostapenko in a difficult position in rallies which can see Svitolina come through in a tight match.

Venus Williams - 3.5 games v Ana Konjuh: It has been a good week for Venus Williams in that she has made the second week at Wimbledon yet again and it looks like a fatal car crash that she was involved in will not be blamed on her. While she may still feel the pain of being involved in an incident like that, the fact the police look to be moving away from blaming her thanks footage released has to be a huge weight off of the shoulders of the American.

She will be looking for another Quarter Final at a tournament Venus has been playing in since before Ana Konjuh was even born. That is an amazing testimony to how long Venus Williams has been able to stay at the top of her game and her performances this week suggest she can go deeper into the tournament.

I do think Venus will want to make life easier for herself by returning better earlier in matches which has been the only negative about her wins so far. Overall she has been the dominant player with the serve being very effective and her returning numbers solid enough, although this will be a test for her.

There is a lot of talent in the Ana Konjuh racquet and the question is whether she can cope with the occasion having only once made it through to the Fourth Round of a Grand Slam event. That did come last year at the US Open and Konjuh was an eventual Quarter Finalist there, but I think there is a gap to bridge here with her own service numbers not as strong as what Venus Williams has been able to produce.

The strong returning has helped Konjuh come through her matches with the last two needing a deciding set to get the job done. That could mean there is a touch of fatigue with emotional and physical tanks lacking a little bit of energy Konjuh may have had. If she continues to just have a few issues on the serve, Venus Williams should be able to take advantage and I will look for her to cover in a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Johanna Konta - 3.5 games v Caroline Garcia: The bookmakers have installed Johanna Konta as the favourite to win Wimbledon in the light of both Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova exiting the tournament before the Third Round. While some players could have been affected by that, Konta showed she can put that to the back of the mind after dominating her Third Round match.

This is a bigger test for Konta against Caroline Garcia who was playing wonderfully in Paris at the last Grand Slam. She has backed that up with some solid wins in her first three matches here, but I think there are a couple of areas where she has struggled that could be highlighted in this match.

Both Konta and Garcia are very reliant on the serve with both producing solid numbers behind that shot. However it is the British player who has shown a little more consistency when it comes to the return game and I think that proves to be the key factor in deciding who moves on to the Quarter Final.

To be fair to Garcia, she hasn't returned badly this week, but her opponents have not been of the quality of Konta. Her returning numbers when facing players Ranked in the top ten have not been that good and that is the reason she has lost ten of her last eleven matches in that situation.

Garcia is just 1-4 against top 20 Ranked players on the grass courts and you can see her serve is one that those players have found a way to attack. It has been all the tougher for the Frenchwoman to retrieve the breaks on this surface and I think Konta is able to come through with a 6-4, 6-4 win if she can control the nerves of going into the second week of Wimbledon as the favourite.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 5.5 Games @ 2.05 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Sam Querrey-Kevin Anderson Over 44.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Milos Raonic - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 7.5 Games @ 1.80 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 33-37-5, - 5.86 Units (135 Units Staked, - 4.34% Yield)

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