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Friday, 11 August 2017

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (August 11th)

We have reached the Quarter Finals at the Canadian Masters and Premier Event this week, but this could be a wet day in Montreal and Toronto.

The Cincinnati Masters/Premier Event begins on Sunday this week where the final real preparation for the US Open is undertaken and we should begin to take note of those players who could be in the mix for the final Grand Slam of the season.

I've already got a shortlist going although the draw for the US Open is going to be very important. One name that may not be at the top of the list is Rafael Nadal after being upset in the Third Round on Thursday, although he was a bit unfortunate on the day. However Nadal does look vulnerable on the hard courts and will need the right draw to go deep into the tournament with plenty of players on the Tour who will fancy their chances against the Spaniard at Flushing Meadows.

Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: The layers have found it hard to separate the two players in this Quarter Final, but I really do feel that a lot of this match is going to be on the racquet of Karolina Pliskova. It may be Caroline Wozniacki who leads the head to head 4-2, but Pliskova has won two of the three matches they have played in 2017.

The manner of Pliskova's loss to Wozniacki at the Miami Premier Event will be concerning as she was blown away in the last two sets of that Semi Final. However Pliskova has straight sets wins over Wozniacki in Dubai and Eastbourne under her belt on the hard courts and grass courts, and Pliskova has to believe she serves better than she did in Miami.

The serve was a key reason she was able to win the other two matches against Wozniacki in 2017 and that is not really a surprise. Pliskova's game is very much focused on how well she can serve with that shot giving her the confidence to play the rest of her game.

Wozniacki has to be respected because of how well she has played in 2017 and she has been very strong on the hard courts. This is clearly the best surface for the Dane and the best chance for her to win her first Grand Slam is upcoming at the US Open where she has been a Finalist in the past, but I do think she will need some help from the heavier hitting Pliskova if she is going to get past her.

I think Pliskova has played well enough this week but she still has room for improvement and I will look for her to come through with a 7-6, 6-4 win in this one.

Lucie Safarova - 1.5 games v Sloane Stephens: After backing against Sloane Stephens in each of the last two Rounds it may be foolish to oppose the American again, but I would be surprised if she can sustain the level she has played at in the last two Rounds. The win over Angelique Kerber was a very good one, but Petra Kvitova should have beaten Stephens in the Second Round.

I think Lucie Safarova can get the better of Stephens in this one if she can continue serving as effectively as she has been this week. The hard courts clearly suit Safarova's game and she has been returning very well too which is going to give her every chance to beat Stephens for a third time in a row.

The last two matches were some time ago which means they aren't so relevant, but I do think Stephens is going to be put under pressure by Safarova. While she has played well so far this week and is having her best tournament for a long time on the Tour, I do think the American will need to raise her game even more when she faces Safarova.

Both players will be heavily reliant on their serves and the movement of Stephens has looked very strong which will give her chances against Safarova.

However I think Safarova is just playing slightly better on the return and that can see her win and cover in this one.

Robin Haase - 2.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: There can't have been too many more surprising Quarter Final matches at the Masters level than the one we are seeing to open up the days play at the Canadian Masters. Both Robin Haase and Diego Sebastian Schwartzman have earned at least a couple of upset wins to move through the draw with both beating top 20 players on their way to the Quarter Final.

That has to be respected although both players are hard to believe in because of their previous history on the hard courts. They both have a winning record on the surface in 2017, but that is down to the three wins they have had in Montreal so this run may be a surprise to both Haase and Schwartzman themselves.

The edge in the Quarter Final has to go to the Dutchman who has beaten Schwartzman in all four previous professional matches. Three of those wins have come in the last eighteen months and Haase has a win over Schwartzman on the hard courts, grass courts and clay courts in that time which suggests this is simply not a good match up for the latter.

Haase definitely has the superior serve when he is at his best and that has been a key weapon for him throughout this week. While Schwartzman is the better returner in general, I expect Haase to be able to get into more return games as he is less likely to be blown off the court by that shot.

On the other hand a strong day in the office could see Haase restrict the chances Schwartzman is able to create in relative terms. I do expect breaks of serve and there is a chance that this goes three sets, but I will look for Haase to come through with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 kind of win.

Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 games v Denis Shapovalov: You may have thought Denis Shapovalov's win over Juan Martin Del Potro was going to be the high point of the week for the young Canadian, but the best was yet to come. On Thursday Shapovalov came from behind to beat Rafael Nadal in three sets and move through to his first Masters Quarter Final and all in front of his home fans.

Despite the Montreal crowd usually being firmly behind French players, Adrian Mannarino has to feel he is going to be under pressure from the fans who will want to see Shapovalov continue his journey here. However Mannarino has already beaten the Canadian Number 1 in the draw when taking out Milos Raonic so this shouldn't be an occasion that overawes the Frenchman.

Of course any Masters Quarter Final is a big occasion, but Mannarino has shown enough to think he can get the better of Shapovalov. He is facing an opponent who has to deal with the new expectations of having beat one of the best players in the world and having little time to get over the emotion of that victory.

It was a tough match for Shapovalov whose return game still needs improvement on the main Tour and he should be put under pressure by Mannarino who has an underrated return game. If Shapovalov is still on the way down emotionally, Mannarino is going to be in a position to win this match and that is what I am factoring in to this one.

Mannarino has been returning very well over the last two weeks in Los Cabos and here in Montreal and I am looking for him to get the better of Shapovalov in a 7-6, 6-4 win.

Alexander Zverev - 2.5 games v Kevin Anderson: Both Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson must be feeling good about their tennis heading towards the US Open with both having reached the Final in Washington last week and then following it up with a Quarter Final run this week. It was Zverev who got the better of Anderson last week in Washington and I am going to back the youngster to frank that with another win this week.

I really considered Zverev to beat Nick Kyrgios as the underdog on Thursday in their Third Round match, but the two losses to the Australian at Indian Wells and Miami put me off. However he was an impressive winner all the same and I think the confidence this player has will see him take leaps and bounds in the 2018 season and perhaps challenge the very elite for all of the big titles.

He is definitely someone who could have a big impact at the US Open having failed to really fire at the last two Slams which came after winning the Masters in Rome.

Zverev has beaten Anderson in all three previous matches, but last week was the first time he would have covered this kind of number. He would have done the same in Rome earlier this year if taking the break points that came his way, while the dangerous Anderson serve can take the racquet out of the hands of any player on the Tour.

However I think Zverev has been serving well enough to limit the damage Anderson can do on the return and I think he is going to be good enough to work his way to a 7-6, 6-4 win.

MY PICKS: Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Robin Haase - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Canadian Masters Update: 12-14, - 6.30 Units (52 Units Staked, - 12.12% Yield)

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