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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 31st)

As I said on Monday, the next couple of days were going to be those when I just added my Tennis Picks to the blog but without the usual analysis I write down.

With the tournaments split between Europe and Central and North America, I will update the weekly total and also add the Picks from the matches at Washington, San Jose and Los Cabos on Tuesday.

MY PICKS: Jan-Lennard Struff - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Maximilian Marterer - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jared Donaldson - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Daniil Medvedev - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 0-2, - 4 Units (4 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

Monday, 30 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 30th)

I've had a lot going on in my life in the real world over the last month which has meant I have not really had the time to do the necessary research and also write up my thoughts for the Picks from the Tennis tournaments which have been in action since the close of Wimbledon.

Hopefully things will clear up in the days ahead as we move into August and I can find a bit more consistency with the analysis even if the Tennis Picks have continued to be posted.

Last week was a disappointing one and I decided to put an end to Tennis Picks a little before the end of the week as I was not getting a good read of the matches later in the week.

Some of the players reaching the business end of the tournaments underlined the basic weakness of the draws, but the move into August means a few more bigger names are out on the courts this week. The ATP event in Washington and the WTA event in San Jose are traditionally strong hard court events in the early preparation for the US Open ahead of the trips to Canada and Cincinnati both Tours will be taking before heading to Flushing Meadows at the end of the August.

We also have a WTA event in Washington and a couple of ATP events in Los Cabos and Kitzbuhel to be played this week so there should be a few chances to find the Tennis Picks to produce a winning week after the disappointment of last week.

My first Picks can be found in the 'MY PICKS' section below and the season totals have been updated too.

MY PICKS: Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Denis Kudla - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Season 2018 Update+ 25.90 Units (1229 Units Staked, + 2.11% Yield)

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Boxing Picks 2018- Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker (July 28th)

For the second time in a couple of months I will be heading down to the O2 Arena to watch another big Heavyweight Fight with long-term implications.

Two months ago Tony Bellew was ending David Haye's career in that Arena and he has now set himself up to potentially take on Oleksandr Usyk who won the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament last weekend. That would most definitely be a fight the wider Boxing circle would appreciate and one I would circle as a 'must see' fight to round out 2018.

This weekend it is Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker who headline the O2 Arena and I very much believe the winner of this fight will take on Anthony Joshua, assuming he wins his next fight against Alexander Povetkin, next April.

I've always doubted that Deontay Wilder-Joshua fight would be made for this year and I have a feeling they may still be around fifteen months from getting in the ring together which means the April Wembley date announced by Matchroom would need to be filled. Of course Eddie Hearn will be hoping his home fighter wins this one, but a stunning Joseph Parker performance may just get some momentum behind him which could see fans looking to see Joshua-Parker II despite the poor first fight between them.

Neither Whyte or Parker can look beyond a tough challenge that has been laid out in front of them though and the Heavyweight Division will also see the return of the likes of Carlos Takam, who takes on Dereck Chisora on the undercard, and Luis Ortiz who fights on the Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter undercard.

Garcia-Easter is the big offering from the United States this weekend in a Unification fight, but at the time of writing I am stunned to see no UK broadcaster has picked up that fight.

Last weekend I went 1-2 for the Boxing Picks but the main pick of Oleksandr Usyk beating Murat Gassiev prevented any losses from taking place. It would be good to get on a run of winners to really start improving the season totals, but a winning number is always better than a losing one and I have a positive number to build upon.

Onto the Picks from a busy Saturday of Boxing.

Anthony Fowler vs Craig O'Brien
It is hard to really know how to judge a fighter like Anthony Fowler until he begins to step up his opposition and that is what he is going to be doing in the next few months.

Facing off against an unbeaten fighter with more fights under his belt will be a new test for Fowler and there has been an edge to this one thanks to comments made by Craig O'Brien in the build up to the contest.

O'Brien has to be feeling confident having won all eight fights he has had, but I think there are levels to this fight and Fowler looks to be above him.

The Liverpudlian will hit harder than O'Brien and I can only see another stoppage being added to the ledger as Fowler then moves on to take on someone like Scott Fitzgerald who is another unbeaten fighter.

The bigger question is when Fowler will get to O'Brien and I am leaning towards sooner rather than later. There is obvious power in the Fowler gloves as he has managed to prevent four of his six previous opponents from hearing the bell for the Fifth Round and I do think he will prove to be a step above O'Brien as well as being heavily motivated to ram some taunts back down O'Brien's throat.

O'Brien may be a boxer who will look to move and frustrate Fowler, but the suggestion is he will fight fire with fire and I think that may lead to an early end to this one and I will back Fowler to win in the first half of the fight.

Joshua Buatsi vs Andrejs Pokumeiko
If everything had gone to plan Joshua Buatsi would have been taking a major step up in terms of competition on the undercard of the Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker card.

The fight with Ricky Summers fell through because of an injury suffered by Summers and the rumour mill went into overdrive that he would potentially be facing a former Light Heavyweight World Champion in Igor Mikhalkin who was last seen being beaten by the imposing figure of Sergey Kovalev.

Both of those fights would have been much bigger than the step in opponent Andrejs Pokumeiko who was only announced earlier this week. Pokumeiko was last seen six weeks ago losing a Decision, but this really has the feel of a fight that is there to keep Buatsi ticking along before tougher tests are put together for him later in 2018.

Anything other than a Buatsi win would be a huge upset and in all likelihood he is going to become just the third fighter to stop Pokumeiko.

You can't underestimate the toughness of a fighter coming out of Latvia so I don't think Pokumeiko will roll over for Buatsi, while the British fighter has to make sure he is fully focused knowing it should have been a fight with a much bigger profile that he should be going into.

It can make it tough, but I think Buatsi will be coming out to make a statement and keep the wins ticking along. Even then it could take a few Rounds to really see Buatsi begin to exert the kind of pressure he will need to if he wants to earn the stoppage of the rugged opponent in front of him and it does feel like this could be a fight where Buatsi is in the ring for the longest time.

However I think that will come up just short and I will back Buatsi to finish this somewhere between Five and Six Rounds once he has got into a groove.

Nick Webb vs David Allen
I will probably feel like a right idiot on Saturday evening at the end of this fight, but I just can't have David Allen as a 4-1 shot to win this one.

Allen will be the first to tell you that he isn't at world level and some of the comments which suggest he is ready to walk away from boxing could be a worry, but this is a fighter that won't give up and is a tough fella to crack.

He has been in the ring with fighters that have to be considered some way superior to Nick Webb and it took the likes of Luis Ortiz and Tony Yoka time to break down Allen and stop him late in those fights. Dillian Whyte didn't even get to that point and had to settle for a points win over Allen and I am not convinced Webb has the power to put him away.

The big question for Webb is whether he has the fitness to go the full Ten Rounds here and keep Allen off of him. The latter is not a big puncher, but he will come forward and pressure Webb and if tiredness comes into play then it could be a really tough evening for the unbeaten Heavyweight.

A look at Webb's record and it could be argued that Allen is the toughest fighter he has been in the ring with and that is clearly not a mutual factor in this one.

Maybe Allen gets caught early and Webb can finish this off, but I am going to have faith in the chin holding up and I can see Allen being the stronger fighter at the final bell. Earning a decision won't be easy for Allen who is not the best boxer out there, but he will give everything and if Webb does tire as he is prone to doing, maybe Allen will have his big day in the sun that he has been craving.

Either way the price is not justified here and I will have a small interest in Allen getting the win and then being lined up for a British Title tilt.

Conor Benn vs Cedrick Peynaud
It was supposed to be another routine evening for Conor Benn who is still very much in the early stages of his career, but it proved to be anything but as he was dropped twice by Cedrink Peynaud in the opening Round of their first fight back in December.

Benn did come back to drop Peynaud in the Fifth and Sixth Round and almost had the Frenchman out on his feet, but even then there was some controversy when he was given what looked a fairly wide win on the scorecards.

Now Nigel's son is back to show the fans that it was a one off back in December and he is ready to take on the challenge of Peynaud for a second time.

And this time I am not expecting any mistakes from Benn.

I expect him to be cautious at first and really get behind his boxing, especially knowing he has the power to hurt Peynaud and also has four more Rounds to go in this one compared to the Six Rounder they fought in the first fight.

Cedrink Peynaud had a stunning night back in December, but I think he would have been stopped if the fight was scheduled for Eight instead of Six Rounds and he should have finished Benn in the First Round when knocking him down twice. That will be a missed opportunity as far as I am concerned and I expect Benn to be a lot better and showcase what he learnt from the first fight.

The cautious approach will likely be set aside once Peynaud starts to tire as he did last time and I think that is when Benn will put down the pressure to stop this opponent. Peynaud does have the experience of fighting a Ten Rounder before, but he was the one looking tired when he fought Benn last time out and I think The Destroyer will re-write the story about this fight with a stoppage in the second half of the fight.

Carlos Takam vs Dereck Chisora
There are many similarities with the way both Carlos Takam and Dereck Chisora choose to carry themselves in the ring, but I would be surprised if Takam is not able to win this fight.

You can't always be sure what you are going to get from Chisora who has produced some big performances in his career, although I do think the best days are now behind him. The style won't change as Chisora will look to get forward and bully opponents, but this feels like it will be similar to when he faced Dillian Whyte and found the latter a little too good in a Split Decision defeat.

I expect the two fighters to make this a rough fight for the other, but I think Carlos Takam can make use of the longer reach and the better boxing skills he possesses. That is especially the case at this stage of their respective careers although there is a slight question mark around Takam who has not been in the ring since his defeat to Anthony Joshua last October.

That loss was only the fourth suffered by Takam and the previous two before the loss to Joshua came against Alexander Povetkin and Joseph Parker. That is some elite company that Takam has been operating in compared with Chisora who has lost a fight that would have been considered domestic level and another at European level.

Chisora is a tough man though so I can't imagine him rolling over and he has only ever been stopped twice against Tyson Fury and David Haye. Takam has displayed some punching power, but I am not sure he will have enough to stop Chisora too and the same can be said the other way around so the scorecards being needed looks the most likely outcome of the fight.

I just feel Chisora doesn't have a lot left in the tank and that was evident in his defeat to Agit Kabayel last year and this looks like the kind of fight where Takam can keep his Ranking moving forward with a solid win. Carlos Takam might be able to get the better of the exchanges when they occur, but I expect the longer reach to be key for him and I do think he can win this one on the cards.

There is plenty on the line for both fighters when you think of where the losing fighter would go, but I think Dereck Chisora's time at this level has already passed and I will back Takam to win this one on points.

Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker
The main event at the O2 Arena really does look a crossroads fight for Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker with the winning fighter heading towards a World Title fight and the losing fighter perhaps wondering where their career is heading.

Both Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker have had the one loss on their ledger and both by the same man in Anthony Joshua although Whyte was stopped and Parker was beating by a Unanimous Decision.

I don't think the way either fight ended has much influence on this one, but the bigger factor may be how Parker has dealt with a first professional loss and whether he truly believes he should be alongside the very best in the Heavyweight Division.

Parker knows he should have performed better in the loss to Joshua but he is straight back on the horse when so many others would have taken a much more comfortable fight to get back to winning ways.

The Kiwi does have something to prove having underwhelmed since getting to World level fights, even if he has narrowly found a way to win those fights before running into Joshua. Some will say he should not have received the Decision against Andy Ruiz or Hughie Fury so Parker has plenty to prove when he steps in with Dillian Whyte.

Whyte has bounced back from his loss to Joshua by winning seven straight fights and it is the highlight reel Knock Out of Lucas Browne which is going to be fresh in the memory. However this is a much different fight than the one against Browne, who stood in front of Whyte and didn't have anything like the movement Parker will bring to the table.

The win over Dereck Chisora was controversial too with many believing Whyte did not do enough to win that fight, while he has needed points to beat David Allen and Robert Helenius. So while I think Whyte has plenty of power, I am not convinced he has enough to dent a man like Parker who has proved to have a very solid chin throughout his career.

Movement and boxing skills are with Parker as is the speed and I don't think he was that poor against Joshua, or certainly not as poor as some think. He does have the inferior reach, but Parker will believe he can get his punches off first with the speed he has and I think the New Zealander may just nick this 50-50 contest.

I think the speed and superior boxing skills will see Parker build up a lead and then begin to counter Whyte as he chases the big Knock Out punch. It does point to Parker working his way to a Decision win, although I would not rule out controversial scoring and the potential for a Split or Majority Decision or perhaps even the Draw.

My heart is actually with both fighters- I have a lot of time for both and I would have loved to have seen both Whyte and Parker take a different direction and work their way into mandatory spots to get their chance at a World Title. That is the the fan in me of both men that wants to see them rewarded, but I will be heading to the O2 Arena for this one because I do think it has the potential of being a very good fight between two genuine World contenders.

Coming back will be very difficult for the losing fighter with a long road to set up a shot at a World Title, but the winning fighter may just get a date with Anthony Joshua next April if the current three belt holder beats Alexander Povetkin in September. That is a lot on the line for both Parker and Whyte and my head is saying that the former World Champion will have a little bit more than the home fighter in this one.

I think it will be tough for either fighter to stop the other, although I would not be surprised if we see some solid countering which may put one or both on the floor in this one. However my head says Parker is quicker and will have the ability to get in and out of the punching zones in this one a little better than Whyte.

Parker has not been that impressive in his recent fights, but he does do enough to win fights and I think this match up is better for him as Whyte won't be hard to find. As much as Whyte has improved since his loss to Joshua, I think the Lucas Browne win is a little overrated considering the shape the Australian showed up in and the fights with Chisora and Helenius may point to a fighter who is not quite up to World level.

I hope it is a fun fight and I will be happy whoever wins, but my pick is going to back Joseph Parker to win this one on points. Some will consider a bit of a saver on the Draw, which could be a real player in a close fight where Whyte is likely to be the aggressor and Parker the fighter throwing the quick combinations and boxing on the back foot.

Some of the cards in recent British fights involving a home fighter have been 'interesting' to say the least so I am not ruling out a controversial call, but I think Parker will do just enough to nick this with a 116-112, 115-113 kind of card in his favour.

Mikey Garcia vs Robert Easter Jr
You have got to love the way Mikey Garcia is trying to build a lasting legacy for himself and this week he goes back down to Lightweight to enter into a Unification fight with Robert Easter Jr.

The oddsmakers think it is a foregone conclusion that Garcia is going to add another belt to his large collection, but I think Easter Jr is being underestimated somewhat. Much of that could be down to some poor performances in the last couple of fights he has had, but Easter Jr has a clear advantage in height and length and will have to make use of those attributes to win this one.

The question for Easter Jr is whether he can step up his level having had those tough outings and whether he can avoid getting involved in a real scrap with Garcia who has the edge when it comes to power.

Garcia has not stopped his last two opponents, but Adrien Broner has shown he has decent punch resistance and Sergey Lipinets was put down and that is despite Garcia going up the Divisions to take on those two fighters. Back down at Lightweight Garcia should be much more comfortable but Easter Jr has the talent to make this a much tougher fight for Garcia than the layers are anticipating.

Ultimately I think Garcia will make the better adjustments in the fight if Easter Jr is boxing well from the outside and keeping this at range. I also think the power is enough to hurt Easter Jr later in the fight and I would not be surprised if Easter Jr has to get off the floor.

He can still make Garcia work for things though and I think the scorecards will be needed and I think Easter Jr is going to have to be a dominant winner to get the Decision here. Anything close will likely lean in favour of Garcia, but I think the latter will get the better of the Championship Rounds and that can see him pull away for the win and Unifying the WBC and IBF belts here.

It is tough to oppose the obvious Mikey Garcia power, but Robert Easter Jr is an unbeaten fighter and a talented one who can force Garcia to dig deep for the win.

MY PICKS: Anthony Fowler to Win Between 1-4 @ 3.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Joshua Buatsi to Win Between 5-6 @ 4.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
David Allen @ 5.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Conor Benn to Win Between 6-10 @ 3.25 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Carlos Takam By Decision/Technical Decision @ 2.25 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Joseph Parker By Decision/Technical Decision @ 2.60 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Mikey Garcia By Decision/Technical Decision @ 2.37 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Boxing 2018 Update: 18-34, + 4.90 Units (79 Units Staked, + 6.20% Yield)

Friday, 27 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 27th)

I didn't have any Tennis Picks on Thursday as tiredness from a tough week got the better of me meaning I could not put in the research I would like whenever I am making a Pick from any sport.

Of course it came after a really disappointing Wednesday when veterans Gael Monfils and Fernando Verdasco let me down- I won't back the latter as a favourite again, while the former is close to joining the permanent black list of players too.

That has turned a positive start to the week to a negative position and matches are not easy to call on Friday when we reach the Quarter Final matches across the five tournaments being played.

Any picks from Atlanta will be added to this thread on Friday morning.

Edit: The Picks from the ATP Atlanta Quarter Finals have been added now.

MY PICKS: Jozef Kovalik - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Mischa Zverev + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-4, - 2.92 Units (14 Units Staked, - 20.86% Yield)

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 25th)

Much like last week, it has been a very good start to the week but I am hoping I am able to maintain the success much better than I was able to do a few days ago.

On Wednesday we move into the Second Round of the matches to be played at ATP Atlanta, ATP Gstaad, ATP Hamburg as well as the two WTA events being played this week. My Tennis Picks are focusing on the men's tournaments taking place because of the better fields that have come together, although I imagine the WTA Moscow event will present some opportunities later in the week as the tournament reaches the business end.

Any Picks from Atlanta will be added to this thread at some point on Wednesday, but for now the three selections come from Gstaad and Hamburg.

Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Thiago Monteiro: One of the big concerns for an inconsistent player like Fernando Verdasco has to be the long match he had to come through in the First Round in Hamburg. He spent around 40 minutes longer on the court than his opponent in this Second Round match, although it should be noted that Thiago Monteiro is in the draw as a Lucky Loser having won one and lost one Qualifier to get into the main draw.

The majority of his time is spent on the clay courts which makes Monteiro dangerous, but the best results he has tended to produce on the main Tour have come on the South American clay courts. His win over Gilles Simon in the First Round is a solid one which has to be respected, but Verdasco has already beaten the Brazilian very comfortably in 2018.

Verdasco had a very good win over Dusan Lajovic but his performances are becoming more and more erratic as the veteran reaches the latter stage of his career.

To be fair to Verdasco his numbers have been pretty strong in 2018 on the clay courts and they will certainly give him a chance to beat Monteiro for a second time on this surface. Thiago Monteiro has played well enough on the clay courts, but he has struggled with his return of serve and I think that could be a difference maker if Verdasco is not feeling too much tiredness after a long week in Bastad and a tough First Round match.

The struggles on the return of serve have been particularly evident when Monteiro has played on the main Tour and I do give Verdasco enough of an edge to cover this number. While his return of serve has only produced a 29% break rate in 2018, Verdasco has actually won more points on the return of serve this season than he has in previous years and I think it is the Spaniard who will have the majority of break points in this one.

It is always difficult to know what Verdasco will turn up to the court, but he dominated Monteiro when they met on the clay courts in South America earlier this season. If he serves as he has for much of the season on the clay courts Verdasco can do enough to cover this number in a victory over Monteiro.

Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v Leonardo Mayer: This is actually a pretty big number for Gael Monfils to cover when you think he is playing the defending Champion in Hamburg and has had close matches against Leonardo Mayer in the past.

In fact they played one another on the clay courts earlier this season and Monfils was a narrow winner, while he has also needed three sets to win his First Round match. Compare that to Mayer who has had a day of rest between his First Round match and this one and also was a strong winner in his match against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The fact Monfils is 3-0 against Mayer will help the confidence in this one and Mayer has struggled to really put the wins together on the clay courts in 2018. The title win in Hamburg will make Mayer feel better in these surroundings and he will point out the fact that Monfils was perhaps fortunate to beat Marco Cecchinato in the First Round.

The Frenchman has to be very pleased with that win when you think of how well Cecchinato has played on the clay in 2018. However he did win the title in Umag last week which may have meant the Italian was lacking something in the tank to beat Monfils.

The reason I do like Monfils is that he has had plenty of success on the clay courts in the past and the numbers are very similar to what Leonardo Mayer has produced. That is where the head to head could prove to be the difference in the critical moments of this match and I will look for Gael Monfils to end Mayer's defence of the title with a strong looking win.

Roberto Carballes Baena - 1.5 games v Taro Daniel: This looks like it has all the makings of a very close Second Round match with the two players producing very similar numbers on the clay courts.

Both Carballes Baena and Taro Daniel have had good First Round wins too, but the difference could come from a mental point of view. It is the Spaniard who has won all five previous matches between himself and Daniel and all but one of those have been on the clay courts albeit the last of those was a couple of years ago.

There has been an improvement in both players since they last met in 2016 but I am not sure you can completely ignore the fact that Daniel has won just a single set between these players.

In 2018 both have served pretty well and also broke serve at around the same number, although Carballes Baena may just have a slight edge all around. Adding that to the head to head and I think the Spaniard can be backed in what is considered a close match in Gstaad.

It is Taro Daniel who has had the better winning percentage on the clay courts, but I think Carballas Baena is going to be the one moving through to the Quarter Final and I will back him to cover this number.

MY PICKS: Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Roberto Carballas Baena - 1.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 3-1, + 3.08 Units (8 Units Staked, + 38.5% Yield)

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 24th)

There may be a lot of First Round matches to be played across the five tournaments being played this week, but finding angles to play have been far from straight forward.

I expect to see more potential plays coming up as the tournaments get into the Second Round and beyond, but for Tuesday I have just a couple of Picks and both come from the same ATP Gstaad event.

Time constraints mean I will add the two Picks from the Tuesday matches below.

MY PICKS: Denis Istomin + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Matteo Berrettini - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Monday, 23 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 23rd)

The run to the US Open officially begins this week when the ATP Tour moves to Atlanta, but there are some big tournaments in Europe too on the clay courts.

There is one ATP 500 event in Hamburg on the clay courts which is a big chance for players who love that surface to pick up some big Ranking points, while another ATP 250 event is played in Gstaad in another clay court event.

The main WTA tournament is played in Moscow on the clay too.

Once again the main names on the Tour are having another week getting some rest and recuperation from their exploits at Wimbledon but that gives the chance for the likes of Marco Cecchinato, Steve Johnson, Fabio Fognini, Alize Cornet and Anastasija Sevastova to build on title wins last week and earn more Ranking points.

Players of that ilk will be hoping to do that this week and my first couple of Tennis Picks from the week can be found below.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 1.5 games v Roberto Carballes Baena: Two Spanish players meet in the First Round of the ATP Gstaad tournament on the clay courts on Monday. Out of the two players it is Roberto Carballes Baena who is the more comfortable on the surface considering he spends the majority of his time on the clay courts, but Guillermo Garcia-Lopez has been good enough to put together plenty of wins on this surface too.

Both players have actually produced very similar numbers on the clay courts in 2018 with both Garcia-Lopez and Carballes Baena winning around 62% of points behind the serve and around 40% of the returning points. It won't surprise anyone that they have similar hold and break percentages on the clay courts too, although Garcia-Lopez has tended to play at the higher level.

There isn't going to be much between the two players on the day, but Garcia-Lopez could have the edge thanks to the superior level of competition he tends to play against on a more consistent time on the Tour compared with his compatriot.

It feels like a match that is going to see both players have plenty of opportunities to break serve and I am leaning towards Garcia-Lopez to have the edge even though he was beaten by Carballes Baena when they met in a clay court Final on the Challenger Tour in 2017.

On that day Carballes Baena was something of a fortunate winner and I think Garcia-Lopez can earn a measure of revenge with a win in this First Round match. You do have to be a little concerned that this is the first match back on the clay for Garcia-Lopez since the French Open compared with Carballes Baena who was beaten in the First Round in Bastad last week. Carballes Baena also spent a month playing clay court Challenger events rather than any grass tennis so his familiarity with the surface could give him the chance to earn the upset.

However I am not sure Carballes Baena will have the majority of the break points in this one and I like Garcia-Lopez to win and cover if he takes the chances that come his way.

Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 games v Donald Young: 2018 has been a tremendously poor year for Donald Young and his World Ranking has slipped outside the top 200. It means he will be looking for some Wild Cards to enter events during the North American hard court swing as he may be short of even entering the Qualifying for some of the Masters events coming up and confidence has to be incredibly low.

The overall record over the last twelve months has been very poor, but Young's 2018 record has seen him win just one of the nine matches played on the hard courts. It would be great to say that Young has just had some really difficult draws in those defeats, but that has not always been the case and his numbers have been very poor too.

Those have been particularly poor when it comes to the serve as Young's numbers have slipped from the standards he has set for himself in recent years on the hard courts. He is struggling to hold serve, although facing up against Ivo Karlovic may help with a long known fact the big serving Croatian is a limited returner.

While it has been a tough year for Young, Ivo Karlovic will no doubt feel his own time on the tennis court at the top level is coming to a close. The serve remains a potent weapon for Karlovic, but he is under more pressure to make sure he looks after that side of his game with the return numbers showing even more of a decline.

In each of the last four seasons his percentage of return points won have been in decline and no one should be surprised to see that his break percentage has also declined. Karlovic has broken just under 6% of the time on the hard courts in 2018 which makes it hard to trust him, but he has a strong record against Donald Young and is facing a player who is very short of confidence.

I am anticipating the Karlovic serve putting plenty of mental pressure on Young who has been known for throwing away service games on this surface in 2018. Doing that against Karlovic would be fatal in a set and I think Young will have a hard time getting the better of the Croatian in this one.

Karlovic has not exactly pulled up trees which makes it hard to trust him, but I think he can win this match and cover the small handicap.

MY PICKS: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Season 2018 Update+ 31.12 Units (1209 Units Staked, + 2.57% Yield)

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 21st)

I am spending the day away from the computer as I’ve booked tickets for an event which takes place this afternoon, but I did manage to research the Tennis Picks for Saturday’s Semi Finals.

It has proven to be a difficult week for the Picks after a poor Friday with the Quarter Final matches letting me down.

However I am going back to the well with one player who did secure a win for me on Friday and who is on the brink of a second clay court title on the main Tour in 2018. Marco Cecchinato is still perhaps a little overrated thanks to a great run at the French Open, but he has been playing well enough to win his Semi Final at the kind of level this tournament in Unag is operating at.

This has not been a deep field and I do like Cecchinato today as my sole pick from the Semi Final matches to be played.

I am having to write this out on a mobile today so unfortunately the thread has a different feel to normal but I will be back to the usual feel tomorrow. If I’m back before this match begins I will update the weekly totals too.

MY PICK: Marco Cecchinato - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Boxing Picks 2018- Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev (July 21st)

2018 has been a really good year for Boxing fans but the best fight we may get to see in the calendar year may be the Cruiserweight Final of the World Boxing Super Series.

That is a big shout when you think Canelo vs GGG 2 is yet to take place and I have no doubt that may produce the bigger numbers, but this Cruiserweight Final looks really good and features two boxers who could be mixing with the big boys of the Heavyweight Division.

The winner absolutely will be propelled into a big time title shot at Heavyweight within eighteen months, while whoever loses will have the time to rebuild considering the performances produced in the World Boxing Super Series.

There was some scepticism about how the tournament would work in practice when it was first announced, especially as previous tournaments had not really worked as well as the organisers had hoped. But the Cruiserweight and Super Middleweight events were strong and it has all led to this moment as the first of those tournaments is concluded.

The success has whetted the appetite of the fans and the announcement of two very good looking fields at Bantamweight and Light Welterweight is only further good news for the fans. I am writing this before the Draft Gala has been completed, but I think both tournaments are going to set up some huge fights over the next twelve months which is great news for us Boxing fans.

The Usyk-Gassiev fight absolutely is stealing the headlines, but Liam Smith is also in action this weekend as he takes on Jaime Munguia for the WBO Light Middleweight World Title. Smith is a former holder of that belt and has some huge fights in front of him if he can upset Munguia who announced himself in a big way by hammering Sadam Ali back in May.

Munguia is clearly looking to fulfil his mandatory and then take up some huge fights in a stacked Division, but Smith has every chance of upsetting the odds in my opinion. Beefy has already spoken about fighting at Anfield and defending a World Title there, but I don't think he is overlooking the man in front of him and Munguia still has a lot to prove before people really have to accept he is for real.

Fedor Chudinov vs Nadjib Mohammedi
One of the main undercard bouts for the Usyk-Gassiev card features a former World Champion in Fedor Chudinov defending his WBA International Title against an opponent who has mixed in some very prestigious company.

Nadjib Mohammedi has fought the likes of Sergey Kovalev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk at Light Heavyweight, but he is coming back down in weight to take on Chudinov at Super Middleweight.

The last three fights Mohammedi has had have been back down at Super Middleweight, but this is another step up from the kind of level he has been operating at.

Chudinov is best known in the United Kingdom for being stopped by George Groves for the WBA World Title but he has come back strong and this kind of level is one on which he is comfortable. I am not sure Chudinov will ever be a World Champion in what has traditionally been a tough Division, but a win will get him back into position to have another shot perhaps against the World Boxing Super Series winner and a rematch against George Groves or even a chance to take on new Regular Champion Rocky Fielding.

I think the Russian will be able to win this fight on home soil and I think Mohammedi has found it tough when he has taken the step up in competition. Being stopped by the likes of Kovalev and Gvozdyk is no shame for any boxer, but that does mean four of his five losses have come with a stoppage and Chudinov has enough pop to do the same.

I will be having a small interest in Chudinov getting it done inside the distance in this undercard bout.

Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev
This has to be the most exciting fight of the year as the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament comes to a close with the potential to unify all four titles in this Division.

This will be the second Division which has all the belts being held by one fighter having seen Terence Crawford do the same at Light Welterweight earlier in the year, but the potential for the winner of Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev is arguably even bigger than Crawford's.

Ultimately the Heavyweight Division is the star Division in Boxing and the winner of this one will propel themselves into that Division and into the big fights from the off.

I'm guessing most Boxing fans are feeling what Usyk did before his Semi Final against Mairis Briedes.

'I am feel. I am very feel'.

No one will be underestimating Murat Gassiev who has had two impressive wins to move into the Final himself and the closer the fight has come the more people seem to have fallen behind the young Russian. Being trained alongside Gennady Golovkin has only helped Gassiev who has all the tools to come back even if he was to lose this fight.

With that in mind I do feel there is more on the line for Usyk who has to be a road warrior for the third time in this tournament and being Ukrainian will be put under more pressure by the Russian home crowd. I don't think that will bother Usyk at all and I think he is the all around superior boxer, although Gassiev may have the edge when it comes to the power stakes.

Usyk is the older man and it will be that much tougher to rebuild with a strong reputation he has from the amateurs when opponents simply won't want to fight him coming off a loss. He still has time to do that, but I think it will be 'easier' for Gassiev to bounce back and that additional motivation for Usyk may just tip him over the edge in what looks like being a 'Fight of the Year contender'.

The layers are finding it hard to split the fighters now and I think it will come down to one of two scenarios.

Either Gassiev finds the big punches to slow down Usyk and stop him late or I think the Ukrainian will just use his superior angles and shot selection to just pepper Gassiev back and win this one on points.

Controversy is a concern with a Ukrainian fighting in Moscow and all the political tensions between the two countries, but I think the World Boxing Super Series banner will erase the chance of a 'dodgy scorecard' from ruining what has been a fabulous tournament.

My feeling from day one of this tournament was that it was a coming out party for Usyk before the move up to Heavyweight to take on the really big challenges out there. I still lean towards him, although Gassiev has arguably been the most impressive fighter in the tournament and I think Usyk does enough to win this one on points.

However I will just back him to win the fight in any way at odds against.

Jaime Munguia vs Liam Smith
The WBO Light Middleweight Title is on the line in Las Vegas as Jaime Munguia defends the Title he won by hammering Sadam Ali back in May.

It should have been Liam Smith taking on Ali, but the British fighter had to pull out just two weeks before the event and Munguia took full advantage.

That was the end of a remarkable month for the young Mexican who was deemed 'not worthy' to fight Gennady Golovkin for the Middleweight Title in replacement of Canelo Alvarez. He then showed enough against Ali to really raise his stock and now he is a huge favourite to beat Liam Smith, far shorter than he was against Ali when he was a slight underdog.

I am not sure I buy into that just yet.

Liam Smith may not be a world beater, but he is a former World Champion and his one loss has come against Canelo. He hasn't exactly lit things up since then with his three wins, especially as two of them were very close against Liam Williams.

In saying that he is the toughest fight Munguia would have had and I think Beefy is not as big an underdog as the layers think he should be.

This is the toughest test Munguia would have had and I am not going to anoint him the next big thing in boxing for obliterating what was effectively a Welterweight at Light Middle. I expect Smith to weather an early storm and then perhaps see a tired Munguia down the stretch struggling once his power is perhaps not what it was and I will back the Liverpudlian to once again become a World Champion.

MY PICKS: Fedor Chudinov to Win by KO/TKO/Disqualification @ 2.75 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Oleksandr Usyk @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Liam Smith @ 7.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)

Boxing 2018 Update17-32, + 4.90 Units (75 Units Staked, + 6.53% Yield)

Friday, 20 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 20th)

Friday is regularly Quarter Final day on the Tennis Tour from week to week and this Friday is no different with all of the last eight matches in Bucharest, Gstaad, Bastad and Umag all set to be played.

Newport is a little different as they split their Quarter Finals across Thursday and Friday so the two remaining Quarter Final matches are set to go on Friday.

It has been a tough couple of days for the Tennis Picks with a couple of poor bits of fortune costing me the chance to have a couple of winning days.

On Friday I will add any Picks from the late matches in Umag that have yet to have their markets put together, but the majority of the Tennis Picks are below.

Simone Bolelli - 3.5 games v Henri Laaksonen: The most impressive performance that Simone Bolelli would have produced for the majority of fans to see would have been his close encounter with Rafael Nadal at the French Open. However the Italian has been going about his work to improve the World Ranking and a strong run to the Quarter Final in Bastad after coming through the Qualifiers will be helping his improvement.

This has been part of a strong season on the clay courts for the veteran Italian who has been up and down throughout his career. The numbers have shown how well he has played at the lower level and Bolelli is not faced with an opponent who is used to playing at the main ATP level himself.

Henri Laaksonen has also come through the Qualifiers, but he was the beneficiary of a Lucky Loser spot to take his place in the main draw. He actually beat Juan Ignacio Londero in the First Round after losing to the same player in the Qualifiers, and Laaksonen was much more impressive in the way he beat Matteo Berrettini in the Second Round.

Unlike Bolelli, Laaksonen's general numbers have not been that strong over the course of 2018 when it comes to the clay courts. There has been a decline across both serving and returning numbers compared with 2016 and 2017 and his 12-12 record has been aided by winning a couple of matches here in Bastad.

Bolelli has been much stronger as underlined by his 22-7 mark on the clay courts and the Italian has been holding serve at 85% which will give him a good platform to build on in this match against an opponent who has struggled with the return of serve. Add in the fact that Bolelli has a decent break percentage and I think he will break down Laaksonen and back up a very good win over Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in the Second Round.

In his 22 wins, 18 have seen Bolelli cover this number and I think he will better an opponent who has not had the same level of success on the Challenger Tour as Bolelli has had. I will back the Italian to find a way to earn the cover in this one and move through to a main Tour Semi Final which will offer a huge boost to the World Ranking.

Marco Cecchinato - 1.5 games v Laslo Djere: The feeling was that Marco Cecchinato would be a touch overrated in matches on the clay courts during this mini-European swing after layers would factor in the run to the French Open Semi Final. In saying that I am surprised that Cecchinato is not a stronger favourite to beat Laslo Djere in this Umag Quarter Final and I do like the Italian to work his way into another Semi Final on this surface.

Earlier this season Cecchinato won the title in Budapest which is the first real success he has had on the main Tour. Nothing he had done between that title win and the beginning of the French Open would have prepared us to see the run Cecchinato managed in Paris, but he is unsurprisingly very comfortable on the clay.

The numbers Cecchinato has produced have shown that some of his successes have had more to do with his performance than simple good fortune, but he can't expect to walk through Djere who has had a couple of solid wins behind him already this week.

Djere beating Pablo Cuevas shows this is a player ready to take the next step in his career and he has very similar clay court numbers to Cecchinato, albeit the majority of his matches coming at the lower level than the main ATP Tour. Since Roland Garros Djere has reached the Final of one Challenger event on the clay and won the title at another and that kind of confidence can be huge for a player who then moves onto a higher level of opponent.

That difference of level of opponent has to be considered, but I think that the layers have made this a tough match to separate the players because of how well Djere has been playing over the last month. Djere has been returning really well in his first couple of matches in Umag and he has brought up a lot of break points thanks to a strong level shown which makes him dangerous.

However I think Cecchinato has shown heart to come through a difficult Second round match and his belief has to be at peak level. The Italian has been that little bit stronger all around when he has played opponents Ranked outside the top 50 on the clay courts in 2018 and I think he will edge out Djere here.

Dusan Lajovic - 1.5 games v Guido Pella: The clay courts have always been the favoured surface for Dusan Lajovic, but he has made slight improvements in his numbers in 2018 to produce more wins on the main Tour than previous years.

With a couple more wins he could be fast approaching his best ever World Ranking and Lajovic comes into this Quarter Final as the favourite to beat Guido Pella.

No one will be underestimating how good Pella can be on the clay courts considering this is a surface on which he would have been very used to playing all his life. His own numbers have been decent, but Pella has already had to come through two tough matches so far in Umag and that could mean he is vulnerable to Lajovic in the form he is in.

Both players have served well and Pella only has a slight edge when it comes to the return of serve, but I think the Lajovic serve will ensure that he is having to face off not as many break points as the Argentinian will have to.

I won't be at all surprised if this is a close match with another deciding set needed having seen both win in three sets in the Second Round. That is where Lajovic's slightly less tennis being played this week could mean he has more to offer and I will look to back him to get the better of Pella in this Quarter Final.

Evgeny Donskoy v Marco Trungelliti: Marco Trungelliti will be most known to tennis fans for the journey he made from Barcelona to Paris to take up a Lucky Loser spot in the French Open draw back in May. With his mother and grandmother crammed either side of his tennis racquets, Trungelliti took advantage of social media to show the fans a little insight into his life.

Travelling on the road is the life of a tennis player but especially the case for someone like Trungelliti who is making a tough living on the Tour. The majority of his time is spent on the Challenger circuit, although he has shown in Umag that he should be respected on the clay courts which is his favoured surface.

Coming through a couple of Qualifiers and then winning a couple of main draw matches will help with the Ranking and he is favoured to reach the Semi Final here.

However I think Evgeny Donskoy could be a little underrated to upset the Argentinian having shown good form of his own. Donskoy has arguably the most impressive of the wins this week compared with Trungelliti and that can only aid the confidence of a player who has been serving very well on the clay courts in 2018.

I am anticipating a close match and I would not be surprised if we need a decider as both players had to battle through one in their last match. The serving prowess of Donskoy may give him enough of an edge to upset Trungelliti though and I am backing the Russian to get past his opponent and make the Semi Final in Umag.

MY PICKS: Simone Bolelli - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marco Cecchinato - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Evgeny Donskoy @ 2.37 William Hill (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-8, + 0.12 Units (34 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 19th)

The tournaments continue in the five destinations this week and we are already getting down to the final few days of the events which have come hot on the heels of the end of the third Grand Slam of the season.

While the majority of those players expecting to challenge at the US Open will be resting up and recharging the batteries, these weeks are very important to those players down the World Rankings with the open looking draws giving them a chance to pick up vital Ranking points.

Like Wednesday, I will add those Tennis Picks from the ATP Newport event on Thursday, but the way the Second Round is split in two at the majority of events means the markets are available for the other four tournaments and the matches scheduled to be played on Thursday.

This has been a tough week so I've not had a lot of time. While I have a full analysis of one of the matches, I am adding the other Tennis Picks to the 'MY PICKS' section below.

Sam Stosur - 4.5 games v Patty Schnyder: Once upon a time Patty Schnyder was a top ten Ranked player on the WTA Tour but she decided to retire in 2011 and didn't return to the Tour until 2015. Her comeback has unsurprisingly not reached the kind of levels that Kim Clijsters did simply because Schnyder was already well into her mid 30s when she returned to the Tour.

The love for the game has kept Schnyder going when others may have decided it was not worth battling on the ITF Tour and the lower level events. Wins at that level has helped Schnyder get back into the top 200 of the World Rankings and she is still trending in a positive direction, although failures to Qualify for the Grand Slam events at the Australian Open and Wimbledon show Schnyder is still not quite up to the level she would like.

This is only the seventh match Schnyder will have played on the main Tour on the clay courts since returning from retirement and a player like Sam Stosur should be too good for her.

Stosur is another veteran of the Tour these days and her best days are clearly behind her, but she remains very competitive on the clay courts. The Australian dominated another older player in Francesca Schiavone in the First Round and her numbers have to be put into context compared with Schnyder's simply because of the differing levels they have been operating at.

While only holding an 8-6 record on the clay courts in 2018, there haven't been too many bad losses for Stosur as she continues to see off those opponents she would expect to beat. There has been a decline in the return numbers which will be of concern when you think of the handicap number in this one, but Stosur will put Schnyder under pressure thanks to a serve that remains very good.

It won't always be easy for Stosur, but I do think she can win this match and she can cover a big number.

MY PICKS: Sam Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Federico Delbonis - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Richard Gasquet - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Martin Klizan - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Marton Fucsovics - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-5, + 2.48 Units (24 Units Staked, + 10.33% Yield)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Tennis Picks 2018 (July 18th)

While we have a couple of tournaments being played on the WTA Tour and the ATP Bastad event which have regular start times, the ATP events in Umag and Newport have late starts which means the markets are slower at being released.

For now I am going to add my sole Pick from Bastad and I will add any from the other couple of ATP tournaments to this thread in a few hours from now.

The first couple of days after Wimbledon have been pretty positive for the Tennis Picks made and I am looking to keep the positive momentum going.

There are a lot of players who are more likely to be seen on the Challenger Tour who have entered the main Tour events this week so they can be a little tougher to read with the step up, but so far it has been a good week and I want that to continue as we move towards the middle of the tournaments.

Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Pedro Sousa: I'll be the first to admit that Fernando Verdasco is a player on the wane and one who can be difficult to trust considering some of the rumours that have swirled around his matches in recent years.

He had to come through in three sets in the First Round but Verdasco has continued his love affair with this tournament in Bastad.

I would expect Verdasco to be too good for Pedro Sousa who spends 99% of his time at the Challenger level and who hasn't exactly produced hugely impressive numbers in those matches. All respect to Sousa for coming through the First Round in the main draw here, but beating Radu Albot is a completely different test to trying to do the same to Verdasco in the Second Round.

I have little doubt that Verdasco is on the wane in his career, but his numbers on the clay courts have remained pretty strong in 2018. The results have not necessarily followed and Verdasco now throws in a really poor set compared with a couple of years ago when the Spaniard might have one or two poor games per match.

That is a concern when backing him to cover such a big number as this one, but I think Verdasco enjoys playing in Bastad and he is still significantly better than Sousa. The latter may have some good moments, but I expect Verdasco to wear him down with the superior tennis and I will back him to cover in this one.

Dusan Lajovic - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: It might be strange to see Albert Ramos-Vinolas down as the underdog in this Second Round match despite the fact he is the Seeded player who received a bye in the First Round. Add in the fact that this match is played on the favoured surface of the Spaniard and you can make a case for Ramos-Vinolas as the underdog.

However 2018 has been a difficult season for Ramos-Vinolas even on the clay courts and he has under performed to this point.

Now he faces a player in Dusan Lajovic who has been in very good form over the last couple of months and who has been playing the superior tennis of the two on this surface. There are still areas where Lajovic can look to improve, but his numbers on the clay courts have been strong enough to suggest he can get the better of Ramos-Vinolas especially with a solid win already under his belt.

I can see both players having their chances to break serve here, but Lajovic has been a little more productive when it comes to taking those opportunities.

I am expecting that to happen here and Lajovic is able to beat Ramos-Vinolas for the first time on clay and also cover the number on his way through to the Quarter Final in Umag on Friday.

Gilles Muller - 2.5 games v Marcel Granollers: It has recently been announced by Gilles Muller that he is planning to hang up his racquet at the end of the 2018 season. That may not be a big surprise when you see the slide down the World Rankings and the veteran is clearly not feeling he can play his best tennis nor having the desire to battle through Qualifiers to play in the big tournaments in the months ahead.

The final event he will play on grass comes here in Newport and Muller had a solid win in the First Round against Marcos Baghdatis which will give him some encouragement that he can have a strong week here.

He faces another veteran in Marcel Granollers, but the Spaniard is intent on fighting his way back up the World Rankings. Injuries and a loss of form have seen Granollers drop out of the top 100 of the World Rankings, and the majority of his 2018 has been on the Challenger Tour.

That isn't always a bad idea to step back and produce some wins and rebuild flagging confidence and Granollers has done that for the most part in 2018.

However you would expect Muller to be the favourite on the grass courts and he served well enough in the First Round to edge out Granollers. The return game is always a concern for Muller as is his poor season so far, but I think his win over Baghdatis could propel him to a strong week on the Tour and I like him to beat the Spaniard and cover the number in his Second Round win.

Matthew Ebden - 4.5 games v Tim Smyczek: There may be some regrets from Matthew Ebden that he was not able to go a little deeper into the Wimbledon draw after a very strong month on the grass courts. At least he gets the chance to finish his grass campaign on a high as Ebden bids to go one better than 2017 when he was beaten in the Newport Final.

This time Ebden is coming into the tournament in much better confidence after the strong results on the grass and the numbers have backed up the improved results.

I expect he will have too much for Tim Smyczek who battled through the First Round in a close match against Bjorn Fratangelo which could have easily gone the other way. Unlike Ebden, Smyczek's serve has shown to be pretty vulnerable on the grass courts and I expect the Australian to take advantage of that in this Second Round match.

This is not the first time they have played on the grass in 2018 after Ebden dismissed the challenge of Smyczek comfortably in Hertogenbosch last month. On that occasion Ebden lost just five games and I think he is going to be good enough to cover a big number in this Second Round clash too.

Smyczek's decision to take in a hard court Challenger event between this tournament and Wimbledon might not be ideal too even though he won in the First Round. I expect Ebden will be able to dominate his own service games for the most part and eventually expose the vulnerabilities of the Smyczek serve in a strong win.

Mischa Zverev - 2.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: If Matthew Ebden was disappointed in his Wimbledon campaign you have to wonder what Mischa Zverev was feeling having been beaten in the First Round. That came just days after winning the title in Eastbourne and I have to factor in the expectation that Zverev could have been a little tired, although that doesn't give him an easy excuse for the poor First Round defeat.

This week there are no such fatigue issues and Zverev's game is tailor-made for the grass courts.

He will expect his serve to dominate Vasek Pospisil, who is a limited returner to say the least, but the key to this match is how well the German can begin to pick the big Pospisil serve.

The Canadian has been able to rattle through enough service games on the grass courts to keep him from ever being hammered on the scoreboard, while Pospisil is just as comfortable as Zverev getting up to the net and putting away volleys. Both players will be keen to get up to the net and put the pressure on their opponent to hit multiple passing shots to win the match, but I do edge towards Zverev being able to do that a little more than Pospisil.

Zverev has a few more effective returns than Pospisil and my bigger concern is that this is his first match on these grass courts having received a bye in the First Round. The first set could be very competitive with that in mind, but by the second I would expect Zverev to begin to get a read on the Pospisil serve and make enough returns to force a break or two.

That may be enough to cover the number in this Second Round match and I will back Zverev to earn the win and move through to the Quarter Final later this week.

MY PICKS: Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Dusan Lajovic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Matthew Ebden - 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Mischa Zverev - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-2, + 4.96 Units (14 Units Staked, + 35.43% Yield)