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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (August 10th)

I have to say that Wednesday proved to be a really irritating day after looking like it could be a very positive one.

At one point the picks had moved into a 5-2 position for the day and that was when Alexander Zverev missed a host of break points to move into a commanding position in his second set against Richard Gasquet, and Johanna Konta missed match points at 5-3 and 5-4 in her own second set against Ekaterina Makarova.

Both players slipped up and failed to cover and the rest of the picks had a terrible time of it which ended up leaving me with a losing day despite how close so many of the players had come. Don't get me wrong, the last couple of ATP picks were pretty terrible, but a couple of the earlier losses may even have gone my way which left me frustrated.

What can you do? You can pick yourself up, dust yourself down and look for a better day in the office as we move into the Third Round in both the Masters and Premier Event being played in Canada.

Lucie Safarova v Ekaterina Makarova: The new partnership with Nigel Sears has given Ekaterina Makarova an immediate positive vibe having won the title in Washington last week and moved through to the Third Round here in Toronto. However you can't ignore how close some of those matches have been and I will be looking for Lucie Safarova to get the better of her in this match.

Safarova has played well in her two matches here having returned to the Tour for the first time since Wimbledon when she was clearly in a poor emotional state after seeing Doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands go down with an awful injury. The two wins here have both been positive performances from Safarova and she served very well in beating Dominika Cibulkova in the Second Round.

Another strong serving day will give Safarova a chance, especially if Makarova is beginning to feel all the tennis she has had to play. Yesterday saw Makarova save more match points on her way to winning a match as she beat Johanna Konta for the first time, but she has had to come from a set down in four of her last five matches and that has to wear both mentally and physically.

There has to be a respect for the confidence Makarova is playing with, but Konta was slightly off her best game which saw her lose just a single point more over the course of the match. In reality Konta should have won in straight sets when reaching match point in two games in a row, and I do think Makarova will have to ride out some significant choppy weather to get past Safarova.

The Czech player has been solid enough on the hard courts to think she can come through and I will back her to do so.

Caroline Wozniacki - 1.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: 2017 has been a tough season for Agnieszka Radwanska who has struggled with injury and a loss of form and she looks on course for her fewest Tour wins since 2010. The hard courts have been one of her better surfaces and she has won this Premier Event before so has to be respected.

The two wins Radwanska has earned this week have come in dominant fashion as she has dropped just six games. The comfortable win over Coco Vandeweghe was very impressive considering how well the American played last week in Stanford, but Caroline Wozniacki may be the toughest opponent Radwanska has seen this week.

There is a similarity with the way these two players approach their tennis and Radwanska did beat Wozniacki twice at the end of 2016, although the Dane ended that sequence with a win over her in Doha to lead the head to head 10-6. The matches on the hard courts have been close over the years and Wozniacki only leads those 7-6, but it is Wozniacki who has had the better hard court results in 2017.

She may not have won a title on the surface just yet, but Wozniacki reached the Final in Doha, Dubai and Miami and also has a Quarter Final appearance in Indian Wells. I would expect this match to be another between these players that is tightly contested with plenty of break points being earned by both, but Wozniacki may be the more dependable player at key moments with the superior confidence she has built up.

Wozniacki can come through this match and earn the cover of this handicap. I am backing her to cover with all sixteen previous matches between these two players seeing the winning player cover this number of games.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Barbora Strycova: Playing in Canada has been enjoyable for Simona Halep who has reached the Final the last time the tournament was played in Toronto and won the title in Montreal last year. She underachieved in Washington last week, but Halep will be all the better for having some hard court matches under her feet as she will be going into the US Open as one of the leading contenders to win the final Grand Slam of 2017.

The match up with Barbora Strycova has been a good one for Halep and you can see why the latter is going in as the favourite. However Strycova will have earned plenty of respect after beating Kristina Mladenovic and Daria Gavrilova in her two matches in the draw and she is a player that can compete when at her very best.

Strycova will likely be the first to admit that she needs the top players to be slightly under par if she is going to earn the upset, but those days are fleeting for Halep. Her game is based around a strong defence that can quickly turn into aggressive attacking tennis and I do think that is similar to what Strycova wants to do.

The difference is that Halep is stronger at those aspects and Strycova is going to need her opponent to be making a lot of unforced errors to turn the match in her favour. I anticipate there will be some tight games where break points come and go, but overall I would expect Halep to win the key points enough times to build a lead.

I think there will be one close set and one where Halep pulls away in a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Sloane Stephens: After all of the success in 2016, Angelique Kerber has been through a disappointing 2017 to this point. However there has been some sign that Kerber is perhaps rounding into some solid form going into the final Grand Slam of the season.

The former World Number 1 did play well at Wimbledon and perhaps should have beaten Garbine Muguruza in the Fourth Round against the eventual Champion. She has then added a very strong win over Donna Vekic in the Second Round here and the hard courts have been the best surface for Kerber this year to give her some further confidence.

This is a difficult Third Round match against Sloane Stephens, although the American had to play late into the evening before narrowly getting past Petra Kvitova. It means she has had back to back wins for the first time since Wimbledon 2016 as her return from injury gathers some momentum.

However I do think playing back to back three setters, and long three setters, can be tough both physically and mentally. The later finish than expected on Wednesday coupled with the length of rally that Kerber is likely going to force Stephens to play does make this a very tough test for the American.

There will be times when Stephens is able to overpower Kerber with the flatter hitting and bigger serve than the German. However I think Kerber can out last her in the rallies and looks to be on the right path upwards in terms of her performances and results. A battling two sets might be needed for Kerber to come through 7-5, 6-4 in this one.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Robin Haase: It feels like it is always a chore backing Grigor Dimitrov as he wins matches comfortably when you think he may struggle and then has difficulties when you feel he should be an easy enough winner. That is a concern, but I do think Dimitrov can get the better of Robin Haase who has come through two Rounds in the Canadian Masters with two solid wins.

However both of those wins have come against players Haase probably expects to beat on the surface, although the Dutchman might be one of the strangest players on the Tour. There are times when Haase has produced such a high level of tennis that you expect him to challenge anyone, but others when he barely looks like he has held a racquet before.

The Haase serve can be a big weapon when he is feeling at his best, although being able to sustain a level to beat Dimitrov is unlikely. However he is a danger when facing this number of games to cover because taking a set may be enough to prevent Dimitrov from covering.

I am expecting the Dimitrov performance to be much better than it was in his win over Mischa Zverev though as he just didn't serve as well as he has been in 2017. The numbers remain strong for the most part, but there is always a nagging doubt that he will produce a really poor performance which is yet to be erased from his game.

This is not one of those days I am expecting that performance though and I think Dimitrov will serve and return well enough to get the better of Haase. Hopefully Haase isn't producing his very best tennis as anything less should see Dimitrov win 6-4, 6-4.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v David Ferrer: He might never have lost to David Ferrer in the past, but Roger Federer will have a healthy respect for the former top 10 mainstay especially when you think of how close their most recent meetings were. While the last two matches needed a deciding third set to separate these players, it should also be noted that the last time Ferrer and Federer played one another was three years ago.

In that time Federer has recovered a level that many would have thought was beyond him, while Ferrer has declined as a player. That should make a difference when they meet in the Third Round with the Spaniard's serve more vulnerable than ever.

Ferrer also doesn't have the same consistency from the back of the court to think he can stay with the power Federer can produce off the ground. The Federer serve has been huge for his success this season too and all of the signs point to one of the more comprehensive Federer wins when these two players have met.

You can't completely rule out Ferrer making this a competitive match after winning a title on the clay courts and two matches here since Wimbledon came to an end. His two wins in Montreal have come as the underdog, but against players who can be considered a lot flakier than the top players.

I wouldn't be surprised if one of the sets is close, but I think Federer can earn a couple of breaks of serve in the other set and can record a 6-4, 6-2 win.

MY PICKS: Lucie Safarova @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Coral (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Canadian Masters Update: 9-11, - 5.94 Units (40 Units Staked, - 14.85% Yield)

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