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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Tennis Picks 2017 (August 2nd)

I was really frustrated yesterday morning and felt close to deciding to make a break from the Tennis Picks until next week when the Canadian Masters/Premier Event is due to begin.

While the remainder of Tuesday was better, I still feel something has been left on the court with a couple of players going down in close matches, especially Kei Nishikori who didn't cover despite breaking serve five times against Donald Young. My fears about his serve proved correct, but that is frustrating because Nishikori has no business not winning that match more comfortably, although overall it was a winning day on Tuesday.

Kitzbuhel had a lot of close Second Round matches on Wednesday and I didn't find anything of interest from there on this day. However there look to be better options at the events in Washington and Los Cabos and that is where the picks come from on Wednesday in Second Round action.

Lucas Pouille - 3.5 games v Tommy Paul: One of the main reasons that I can't see Lucas Pouille maintaining his position inside the top 20 of the World Rankings at this moment is the poor return numbers he produces . There is clearly plenty of heart and determination inside of Pouille which sees him play really well at clutch moments, while the serve is better than advertised, but without improving the return there are going to be plenty of chances for his opponents to get the better of him.

The Frenchman is a solid player, but I think you have to be a little ignorant to bypass the fact that his last eight losses have all come as the favourite. If Pouille is slightly below his par level, Tommy Paul could be another who can take advantage, although the young American will have to have a career best performance to do that.

Paul has served well, but I think the movement can be exploited and he might be under pressure if Pouille is serving as well as he can. The first match back on the hard courts might mean Pouille is a little undercooked against an opponent who reached the Quarter Final last week in Atlanta, although Paul's defeat came against the first player he met who is at a similar level to Pouille.

The youngster has played a lot of tennis over the last eight/nine days with a number of his wins last week coming in three sets. Paul also needed to come from behind to beat Casper Ruud on Monday and was helped by the latter being affected by the heat and humidity in Washington on the day.

I do think Paul will have some solid moments, but I think Pouille's experience can tell. While it will need a better than normal returning day from the Frenchman, I do think Pouille is going to be good enough to earn himself a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Gilles Muller - 4.5 games v Dmitry Tursunov: Over the years Dmitry Tursunov has had the better of Gilles Muller, but their last meeting took place twelve months ago and ended in a routine win of the lefty from Luxembourg. While Muller has found an Indian Summer to his career, Tursunov has seen injury knock his World Ranking down outside the top 800 and his 'Protected Ranking' tournaments are beginning to run out too.

The Russian did win his first match since March 2016 in the First Round on Tuesday, snapping a run of nine consecutive losses for Tursunov. The last four losses had been in very comfortable fashion and I do wonder if this is a player that is just playing out the tournaments he can enter at this level before calling it a day in his career.

Muller is thinking of anything other than retirement in what has been a memorable 2017 for him already. Some of the numbers dictate that Muller is perhaps going to go through a difficult patch of results soon with the returning numbers not matching up to the success he has had in breaking serve.

His own serve has been a huge weapon and Muller will have some confidence having reached the Semi Final last week in Atlanta. The return game obviously is a little limited and makes me wonder if he can cover spreads like the one he is faced here, but I am backing Muller to do that against Tursunov who won't be used to playing two matches in quick fashion as he is on Wednesday.

At his peak Tursunov had a huge serve, but this is a less effective shot these days. As long as Muller can make a few effective returns I can see him finding a way to earn at least a couple of breaks of serve and that may be enough to earn a 7-6, 6-2 win.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Kyle Edmund: I am not as high on Kyle Edmund as some in the British media seem to be, but I will say this is a player who has found some of his best tennis when he has been matched up against the top 20 players on the Tour. That makes him a dangerous Second Round opponent for Grigor Dimitrov who is making his first appearance on the hard courts this summer.

The Dimitrov numbers in 2017 have actually been pretty good as he looks to make a move back up the World Rankings and he has been particularly good when facing the players Ranked lower down. The serve has been well protected, while the Dimitrov return has been more effective when playing those Ranked outside the top 20 of the World Rankings.

He will need to be at his best because he is facing a player who reached the Semi Final in Atlanta and Edmund also had an impressive First Round win here. There is still room for improvement on the return of serve if Edmund is going to reach the top 20 of the World Rankings, but he does seem to thrive on matches against the best players.

Edmund may only have a 6-17 record against top 20 players, but that becomes 5-11 when looking at the last twelve months and that has to be respected. While the return numbers are not overly impressive, Edmund seems to be very good at converting the break point chances he does earn and that has led to some sets being stolen.

That makes him dangerous when you think of the number he is being given in this one, but Dimitrov is 11-1 against players outside the top 20 of the World Rankings on the hard courts in 2017. The return has been very effective in those matches and Dimitrov has served well which can help him get the better of Edmund in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win.

Gael Monfils - 4.5 games v Yuki Bhambri: The defending Champion is a very popular figure with fans around the world and that is no different in Washington where Gael Monfils feels comfortable. Monfils won the title here last year and in two previous visits to Washington he has reached the Semi Final and finished Runner Up in those two trips.

It is clear Monfils enjoys the conditions and he will come in with the confidence of being the defending Champion. The first match back on the hard courts is a factor for Monfils this week, but he has played well against those players Ranked outside the top 100 like he is facing on Wednesday.

Monfils has a 18-2 record against players Ranked outside the top 100 on the hard courts over the last four years including a 3-0 record this season. The service numbers have been steady, but Monfils has improved his returning numbers in each of the last three years in this situation.

You can see why that would be the case with his defensive ability meaning lower Ranked players have to hit more quality shots than they will be used to at their usual level. That may be a problem for Yuki Bhambri who has only played thirty-two matches at the main ATP level and is 3-7 when facing top 50 Ranked opponents.

That becomes 1-7 on the hard courts and Bhambri struggles to hold the serve while also having real issues getting his teeth into return games. Even though I do feel Monfils is the kind of player who can leave the door open for opponents when he is not fully motivated, I don't think that will be the case here and I imagine he is capable of around four breaks of serve leading to a 6-4, 6-3 win.

Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 games v Vincent Millot: There is no doubt that Fernando Verdasco took victory from the jaws of defeat in the First Round as he recovered from 6-7, 3-5 to beat Ernesto Escobedo 6-7, 7-5, 6-2. While Verdasco is playing on back to back days, I think that is the kind of win that will give him confidence to take into the rest of the tournament.

The match in the Second Round should be one Verdasco is comfortable win as he faces Vincent Millot who is Ranked outside the top 100 and also off a three set win. It was an upset win for the Frenchman and he is going to need to be at his very best, and Verdasco way under par, for him to earn another one of those.

His serve is going to be challenged by Verdasco who continues to find the solid returning games in 2017 to protect the declining service numbers. The Spaniard is still capable of rattling through the service games, but he seems to face some real pressure on a couple of those which he can't escape.

It may be a little easier against Millot whose returning stats are not that impressive despite playing at the lower level for much of the season. These factors should come together in this one and that is why I think Verdasco is going to find his way to a much more routine win than the one he had in the First Round.

As long as Verdasco takes the chances that he will create, I think the Spaniard is able to move into the Quarter Final behind a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Akira Santillon: The decline of Tomas Berdych has been noticeable but it has not been a quick one and he is still very capable of producing some big time tennis on his day. He is once again threatening to get back inside the top 10 of the World Rankings and his performances on the grass courts will encourage him.

There is no doubt the returning stats have declined and that has to be a worry for Berdych, but he is still capable of winning matches like this one. Akira Santillon may be a part of the next generation of stars on the ATP Tour, but the youngster has not really made his breakthrough on the main Tour just yet.

The numbers have not been that strong to support a breakthrough win like this one would be if Santillon does earn the upset on Wednesday. Having won three matches and Berdych playing his first hard court match of the summer may help Santillon, but I think he will need more to close the gap between these players.

Santillon is just 1-5 against top 100 Ranked players in his young career, and he has had significant issues protecting serve. That will aid Berdych despite the declining returning numbers, while the Berdych serve is likely to be well protected.

It all seems to point to a fairly routine day for Berdych and Santillon's five losses against top 100 Ranked players have seen the opponent cover this number four times. I will look for Berdych to become the latest to do that after a slower start while getting the hard court feel back underneath the feet.

Julia Goerges - 3.5 games v Alison Van Uytvanck: There are a few players on the WTA Tour that can be hard to trust and I think Julia Goerges is definitely one of them. Despite having some strong numbers, Goerges does not play the big points as effectively as I would like when thinking of backing her, but this may be a match that suits her.

As well as Alison Van Uytvanck is capable of playing, I do think the main reason she has not been able to move up the World Rankings as effectively as she would like is the poor return numbers. That is going to be tested to the full by Goerges who can serve effectively on the faster surfaces and also has the slightly stronger return numbers which can see her cover this handicap.

There are times when Goerges can come completely off the boil which will give Van Uytvanck her chance to break the serve, but overall I do think the majority of chances will come for the German.

It is a matter of taking those opportunities when they are presented against an opponent who can rattle through service games before getting into a difficult position. The problem for Van Uytvanck is her aggressive style means she plays with little margin for error and she just doesn't have the same consistency as the top players to keep finding her marks.

Backing Goerges is always a chore, but she should have enough of an edge to work her way to a 7-6, 6-3 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Lucas Pouille - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 4.5 Games @ 2.05 William Hill (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 4.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Julia Goerges - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-6, - 2.20 Units (22 Units Staked, - 10% Yield)

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