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I can't believe a month at the World Cup is about o come to a close on Sunday and I have to say the tournament has been about as good as...

Monday, 7 August 2017

Canada Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (August 7th)

The next two weeks are the biggest preparation tournaments for the US Open and that means the majority of the big names who are expected to challenge for the title in Flushing Meadows will be back on the court.

However the likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are all all absent which has certainly reduced the star power of the men's tournament in Montreal. It may also mean that the door has been opened for some of the younger talent on the Tour to make a real impact over the coming month to prove they belong at the very top of the Tour and that will make it interesting.

Of course the majority of fans will be looking for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to continue their fight for the World Number 1 spot which is now likely to be taken by one of those two men possibly by the end of this week.

The women's Premier Event is also being played this week in Toronto and I am looking for a much better week than the last two have been.

Daria Gavrilova - 2.5 games v Lara Arruabarrena: Any time a player has a long lay off from the Tour and is shifting surfaces, I do think they can take some time to get back into a groove on the court. That is where Daria Gavrilova could find herself having played no competitive tennis since going down 10-8 in a third set decider at Wimbledon, but the Australian is perhaps at her most comfortable on the hard courts.

I do think she appreciates the surface more than Lara Arruabarrena, but I would have thought the same about Gavrilova on the grass courts. However, in Eastbourne, it was Arruabarrena who beat Gavrilova on the grass so the Spaniard has to be respected.

Her numbers on the hard courts have not been too bad in 2017 despite the losing record and Arruabarrena has won two Qualifying matches in Toronto which means she will be comfortable in the conditions. That should mean she is able to make this a competitive match, although I was expecting her to be receiving at least one more game on the handicap markets.

Arruabarrena has won two of the three previous matches between the two, but I am expecting Gavrilova to be able to level up the series.

The Australian is slightly better on the hard courts and that can show up here. I wouldn't be surprised if we need a third set to separate them, but I will be looking for Gavrilova to come through with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

Lucas Pouille - 2.5 games v Jared Donaldson: I have been critical of Lucas Pouille and his position as a top 20 Ranked player because of what I perceive to be a really poor return game. Not an average return game, but a poor one.

The Frenchman has dropped down to Number 18 in the World Rankings and will be slipping some more if he has another poor week on the Tour. The loss to Tommy Paul last week was a disappointing one and it does make backing Pouille seem like a foolish decision a week later, but I think he can do enough to get the better of Jared Donaldson.

This is another young American player who is ready to make some waves on the ATP Tour and Donaldson is making his way up the Rankings. He is another player who needs to be a little more effective on the return because he is still a little inconsistent and will offer up some chances to break his own serve.

Whether Pouille can take full advantage is debatable, but the Frenchman does serve well enough to put himself in a position to win this match. He will need to serve well if he is going to move into the Second Round, but that has been a part of the game that Pouille has been solid enough in.

A first set tie-breaker would not be a surprise to anyone, but I will be looking for Pouille to come through with a 7-6, 6-4 win in this one.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 4.5 games v Tim Smyczek: As I have said above, it can be difficult to know what to expect when a player is playing their first match on a new surface. That is what Roberto Bautista Agut will be doing after taking in a clay court event between Wimbledon and the Canada Masters, but the Spaniard has produced plenty of positive results on the hard courts throughout 2017.

This match is a little more difficult for Bautista Agut when you think Tim Smyczek has come through two Qualifying matches to get into the main draw. Smyczek has also been playing on the hard courts over the last two weeks which has to be respected, although there is a big gap in quality to bridge.

Their two previous matches in 2014 saw Bautista Agut crush Smyczek twice at the Australian Open and US Open, but time has passed since those matches and they are not so relevant now. What may be more relevant is how well Bautista Agut has been playing against players Ranked outside the top 100 on the hard courts.

Bautista Agut might not have been as strong on the return game as he has been in recent seasons, but he has continued to serve well and put the pressure on opponents. I think that is going to happen here against Smyczek whose serve can be vulnerable and I will be looking for Bautista Agut to put pressure on him.

The key for this handicap is how well Bautista Agut is playing when it comes to converting break points. That is perhaps the biggest weakness in the matches against players outside the top 100 in the World Rankings although he is 7-0 against those players in 2017 and I think he wins this one 6-4, 6-3.

MY PICKS: Daria Gavrilova - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Lucas Pouille - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

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