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Saturday, 2 September 2017

US Open Tennis Day 6 Picks 2017 (September 2nd)

We are set to find out which players are making the second week at the US Open and you have to say that the best matches seem to be coming on the women's side of the draw so far this week.

Marin Cilic became the latest Seed to exit the tournament in the bottom of the men's draw and now it is clear that there is going to be a first time Grand Slam Finalist produced. Sam Querrey has to feel good about his position in the bottom half of the draw as America looks for a first male Finalist in over a decade, but John Isner cannot be anything but completely devastated that he has blown his best chance for a Slam Final that he will ever have.

That meant the top two Seeds remaining in the bottom half of the men's draw were both knocked out of the event on Friday and really opened the door for someone to make a surprise run.

In fact all the players left in the bottom half have to believe they may not have a better chance to play in a Grand Slam Final and that will create pressure of its own. It may mean we are going to see some nervous matches rather than quality ones in the coming week as players deal with emotions of knowing what is on the line and I think those watching the bottom half of the draws will be more interested in the loaded women's section than the men's which is not exactly the best list for the casual fan.

The Tennis Picks had a decent recovery on Friday but the last three picks of the day let me down a little bit. I am hoping the second week will be stronger than the first has been and that will hopefully begin on Saturday as we complete the Fourth Round line up.

Dominic Thiem - 4.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: I will open up by immediately saying that Adrian Mannarino tends to be one of the more under-rated players on the Tour because of his style of play. The left hander isn't blessed with a lot of power, but he plays smart around the court which can put opponents in difficult positions, while Mannarino is also someone who can frustrate with his strong defensive play and movement.

That hasn't been an issue for Dominic Thiem though having beaten Mannarino in all five previous matches including in Cincinnati a few weeks ago. That was one of the closer matches they have played against one another and definitely will have given Mannarino some confidence as he bids for the Third Round upset.

It is a difficult match up for Mannarino though despite the strong numbers he has produced on the hard courts. The serve is one that Thiem will have an opportunity to attack, while the other factor is the natural tendency to go into Thiem's backhand from the lefty.

The backhand is one of the flashier shots out on the Tour and Thiem should be able to rip back with plenty of power and you would feel he is going to be the stronger player in the extended rallies with his power pushing Mannarino backwards. Of course I think Mannarino will have his moments too as he slices and dices Thiem around and forces mistakes from the higher Ranked player, but I just don't think it will be possible for him to do that over a best of five set match.

The numbers from their two matches against one another this season, both on the hard courts, have been very similar. The difference in the margin of victory for Thiem in Acapulco and Cincinnati can come down to how well he played the break points, but similar numbers should mean Thiem has all the chances in this one too.

I will be looking for the Austrian to just be a little stronger on the break points as he was in Acapulco and I think he can wear down Mannarino for a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 games v John Millman: There are a number of surprising names in the men's tournament as we have reached the Third Round of the US Open and John Millman is another one. His upset of Nick Kyrgios opened up his little section of the draw, but Millman is going to have to step up his performances if he is going to get the better of veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The German has looked very good through the first couple of Rounds at the US Open and the numbers have been positive. Kohslchreiber missed the hard court season in North America over the last month, but he won the title in Kitzbuhel in July which means he has won his last seven matches going back to a Semi Final defeat in Hamburg.

It is something of a surprise that Kohlschreiber did miss the hard court tournaments because he has been in decent form on the hard courts in 2017. His returning numbers have improved on the 2015 and 2016 numbers while the serve has remained at a consistent level and that has led to a 12-6 record. To further underline the point about how well he has played on the hard courts, four of his six losses have come against players Ranked inside the top 10.

That also shows what kind of test this is going to be for John Millman who has spent the majority of his time playing below the main ATP level this season. The Australian is one of these players that looks too good for the Challenger circuit but not quite good enough for this level and I think that might prove to be the case on Saturday.

Kohlschreiber's numbers have been even better when he faces those players Ranked outside the top 100 and I do think he can put Millman under pressure with his return. While the latter is about his movement, I think Millman has shown the top 50 Ranked players are generally too much to handle for him as he struggles for the effective returns. Even the win over Nick Kyrgios has an asterisk next to it and I think Kohlschreiber will prove a little too good in this one as he moves through 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal - 7.5 games v Leonardo Mayer: In both matches so far this week Rafael Nadal has made surprisingly slow starts before really going through the gears and beating overmatched opponents. This Third Round match feels like another where Nadal should be far too strong when he faces Leonardo Mayer, but the Spaniard World Number 1 would surely want to lay down a marker with a strong performance from start to finish.

Playing an opponent he has beaten three times out of three and one who is going to play a steady game like Mayer may be the right person for Nadal. The last two opponents have been a little unpredictable earlier in the match which may have thrown Nadal, although there are some real areas that need work if there is going to be a second Slam success in 2017 for the Spaniard.

The numbers have leaned heavily towards Nadal at the end of his last two matches which isn't a surprise with the final score he has produced. Overall though, Nadal's returning numbers on the hard courts in 2017 have been slightly below his average for the season with the most noticeable issue being his break points converted percentage which is some way lower than his overall number.

That could be an issue for Nadal later in the tournament, but against Lucky Loser Leonardo Mayer, I am not anticipating things being too much of an issue on the day. Mayer did win the big title in Hamburg in July and he has beaten two solid opponents so far in the main draw of the US Open, but his limited hard court exposure is a potential issue.

Mayer has to be respected from his previous history on the hard courts though with a serve that can be difficult to get into and that will give him confidence. When serving well Mayer can be a handful, although his returning game may not be good enough to stay with Nadal if he begins to get ground down.

Playing the very best players on the Tour have also been a problem for Mayer and his numbers do take a dent when playing someone Ranked inside the top five. He may be another to give Nadal some problems early on in this match, but I think the match up may be one that Nadal can feel a little more comfortable with and that will eventually show up on the scoreboard.

After a competitive first set, Nadal may begin to run through the gears as he has twice already this week and I will look for him to find his way to a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Gael Monfils - 1.5 sets v David Goffin: A former US Open Semi Finalist is flying under the radar here so far this week as Gael Monfils prepares for his Third Round clash with David Goffin in what may be the match of the day on the men's side of the draw. The Frenchman may wish he was in the bottom half of the draw to finally fulfil the potential so many believed he had when he came onto the professional Tour, but on the other hand I am not sure Monfils' career has ever been about the titles but all about the entertainment.

He is well liked around the world because of that, but frustrating for those who want to see players produce their best tennis on the court. His lack of aggressiveness has always been the downfall, and Monfils is someone that can mentally be a little fragile when facing the best players.

Monfils is rightly coming into this match as the favourite against David Goffin who has not really looked the same player ever since that awful injury suffered at the French Open. While the damage was not as serious as it looked like it may be, Goffin's return has been underwhelming to say the least.

Since that retirement at the French Open, Goffin is 5-4 on the Tour and that includes the two wins he has had at the US Open. Losses to the likes of Ivan Dodig, Robin Haase, Hyeon Chung and Nick Kyrgios is not really what you would expect from Goffin and I do think there are some mental scars around the footwork which can be exposed by someone as athletic as Monfils.

I do expect some gruelling rallies to be played between these two players and matches have tended to be close when Monfils and Goffin have met in the past. However this time I am not sure Goffin is at 100% and I think Monfils will be able to impose himself a little more on the match.

Both have had tough paths through the draw to get to this Third Round, but I will look for Monfils to have the overall edge which leads to a win in three or four sets.

Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 games v Shuai Zhang: I was let down by Karolina Pliskova in the last Round as she struggled to deal with Nicole Gibbs, but this may be a match up that is more along the lines that the World Number 1 will enjoy. While we know the firepower that Pliskova is blessed with, Shuai Zhang is likely to want to fight fire with fire and that should mean short points which should be ideal for Pliskova.

The difference between the players is clearly the consistency off the ground and Zhang's serve is considerably more erratic than Pliskova's and those two factors can make a big difference in the match.

Zhang has played well in the first two Rounds and has produced two solid wins, but 2017 has been a difficult year for her after the breakthrough in 2016. Winning back to back matches has been a chore at times and Zhang has even taken in an ITF tournament to try and restore some of the lost confidence she has had.

If Zhang is at her best, she can give Pliskova problems as she has proven in the past, but being slightly below par can lead to the 6-2, 6-0 loss she suffered against this opponent in Doha earlier this year. I am not convinced Zhang's confidence is fully restored though and that can be a problem in this Third Round match.

It does have to be said that Pliskova has been a little up and down with her level of performance throughout the hard court swing, perhaps due to the pressure of expectation that comes with being the World Number 1. The return will be the key to this match and I would expect Pliskova to be able to time the faster Zhang delivery better than she did with Nicole Gibbs' slower serve and that can help her overcome this opponent a little more comfortably.

I am looking for Pliskova to improve drastically on the Second Round performance and find her way to a 6-4, 6-2 win in this match as she moves into the second week.

Lucie Safarova - 4.5 games v Kurumi Nara: All credit has to be given to Kurumi Nara for the way she was able to handle Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Second Round, but she will have to step up another level to beat Lucie Safarova. The latter is one of the dark horses in the women's draw after some strong performances in the build up to the US Open, although there are still some inconsistencies that need ironing out.

This does feel like a good match up for Safarova who will have the edge in power and will have played someone similar to the Nara game in the last Round. The Nara run to the Third Round will have been a big surprise already with little form in the tournaments prior to the US Open and a general struggle she has had on the hard courts in 2017.

The return is the key for Nara in any match she plays with her own serve vulnerable on the hard courts and that is where I think Safarova can snuff out the chances of the upset. Safarova has been very strong behind her serve on the hard courts in 2017 and she has been able to protect the second serve well enough to put the pressure on her opponents.

Safarova is also returning considerably better on the hard courts in 2017 compared to 2016 which has made a big difference in the results for her. That is going to be important in this match as I think Safarova will be able to break the Nara serve quite a few times and that is a reason I am backing her to cover this number of games.

While Nara will cause some problems against the serve, I think Safarova has been delivering the ball well enough to limit those issues. It will mean Nara is under immense pressure to keep holding her own vulnerable delivery and I think that will mentally wear her down during the course of this Third Round match.

This match won't be as straight-forward for Safarova as her win over Nara at the French Open in 2015, but I do think the Czech player will earn the breaks to record a 6-4, 6-3 win.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 7.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 1.5 Sets @ 2.05 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

US Open Update: 22-24, - 5.80 Units (90 Units Staked, - 6.44% Yield)

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