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Sunday, 30 June 2019

Wimbledon Tennis Day 1 Picks 2019 (July 1st)

And so here we go.

Two weeks of Grand Slam Tennis at the third Slam of the 2019 season begins in SW19 on Monday and the sun looks to be shining in London at just the right time. Getting through the first week will make the weather almost irrelevant in the second week as two of the main show courts at Wimbledon will now have roofs to ensure play can continue even in the event of wet conditions to come around.

As I said a couple of days ago, Wimbledon looks a really open tournament as far as the women's event is concerned. That has been the case in the last two years of the major tournaments played on the WTA Tour and I would be surprised if the top Seeds all make their way through to the second week.

Instead I am expecting similar to recent tournaments and Slams where the final four and final eight have a number of surprise names in Slams over the last eighteen months. One or two names which have stood out to me are Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams who are in the weaker bottom half of the draw and who are both big looking prices considering form and the games they have for the grass.

I have to be expecting shocks in the women's draw and I think there will be one or two unfamiliar faces in the final eight in eight days time, but that should not be the case for the men's draw where the top three players in the world have to be short odds on favourites to have one of them pick up the title in two weeks time. Novak Djokovic looks the right favourite with the way the draw has panned out too, although I think both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will head to SW19 with plenty of confidence too.

Anything else would be a real surprise, although there are some talented youngsters who don't feel that far away from making a big impact at this level.

It wasn't a great week for the Tennis Picks in the last week prior to the beginning of Wimbledon, but the draw for the tournament has provided a few options from Day 1 of the tournament as I look to get the third Slam off to a positive start.

Day 1 looks to be a very good day for the players with warm, but not hot conditions expected in London. It might be a bit breezy too which will help players remain cool and focus on what they want to do on the courts.

As I have done for the early Rounds at the French Open, I will write out analysis for a few of the Tennis Picks and add the rest to the 'MY PICKS' section below. Let's hope for a strong two weeks at the third Grand Slam of 2019.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 7.5 games v Peter Gojowczyk: An injury prevented Roberto Bautista Agut from competing at Wimbledon twelve months ago. He has dropped down to World Number 22 in the Rankings, but he has reached the Third Round in his last four appearances at Wimbledon and twice gone on to make the second week so there is a real chance he can reverse his slide down the Rankings here.

The Spaniard is definitely someone who has gotten as much out of his ability as he could and Bautista Agut has played well enough on the grass to take advantage of the draw in front of him. There are one or two dangerous players in his section of the draw if Bautista Agut is going to make the second week of Wimbledon, but he should be good enough to make hay in this First Round match.

Roberto Bautista Agut did reach the Quarter Final in Halle in his sole grass court tournament building into Wimbledon and a three set defeat to Roger Federer is not anything to be ashamed of. He did hold 90% of his service games across the three matches played there and the 22% break percentage is a decent return frm a small sample on the grass considering who Bautista Agut faced in Halle.

He should not be playing someone of the level of Taylor Fritz (Eastbourne Champion), or Roger Federer (Halle Champion) in the First Round here where Bautista Agut has been drawn against Peter Gojowczyk. This will be the fifth time these two players have met on the Tour and Bautista Agut has some very strong numbers against him with four straight wins including a pretty comfortable victory at Wimbledon two years ago.

The last two years have been difficult for Gojowcyzk on the grass courts as he has lost all four matches played in 2018 and 2019 and three of those have come in the last month. The German has been holding 82% of his service games played in those three grass court matches, but his returning has been struggling and now he faces someone who has dominated his serve in the matches between them.

Roberto Bautista Agut has broken in 51% of the return games played against Peter Gojowcyzk in their four previous matches and that number only slipped to 50% in ther match at Wimbledon in 2017. There has been some success Gojowcyzk has enjoyed against the Bautista Agut serve, but this looks like a match that Bautista Agut should be pretty comfortable in and I am going to look for him to use the superior returning to cover what is a large handicap in front of him.

Denis Kudla - 6.5 games v Malek Jaziri: In recent years Denis Kudla has produced some decent tennis on the grass courts, although he has been a player that is happy to take in the Challenger events around this time of the season. Qualifiers are also something Kudla has had to deal with with his World Ranking dropping out of the top 100, but the American has reached the Semi Final in a big Challenger down in Surbiton and the Quarter Final of an ATP 250 event in Stuttgart which should give him some belief.

What has become clear is that Kudla has been comfortable taking on players of a certain level on this surface and he is someone who has had some decent numbers in 2019. If you only consider players Ranked outside the top 50 of the World Rankings, Denis Kudla has held 82% of his service games and broken in 26% of return games played across nine matches over the last month.

In the First Round at Wimbledon Denis Kudla has been drawn to face Malek Jaziri who has yet to play a grass court match over the last month as he has instead focused on reversing his own slide down the World Rankings with Challenger events held on the clay courts. The Tunisian is just 1-6 in his last seven grass court matches with the last of those coming in a straight sets defeat to Jared Donaldson here at SW19 twelve months ago.

Malek Jaziri has simply not produced the same level on serve or return as his opponent in the First Round, while the head to head between these two players reads 2-0 in favour of Denis Kudla.

One of those matches came on the grass in 2015, while the last match came in Cincinnati last year in a Qualifier. Both wins for Kudla have come on fast surfaces and I think that is going to give him the confidence to see off Jaziri in the First Round.

There is little reason to suggest this is anything but a big number on the handicap, but I am not sure Jaziri will have a lot of belief coming into the match. His two losses to Denis Kudla have been one-sided and the last two years on the grass courts have not been much fun for the Tunisian who has held just 70% of the service games he has played on this surface across his last seven matches. Malek Jaziri has broken in 15% of return games in that time too and I think Denis Kudla can find the breaks of serve to enable pretty comfortable passage through to the Second Round.

Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: The World Number 1 is going into Wimbledon to defend the title he won in 2018 and he is the favourite to win the title here having been the beneficiary of a good looking draw. The two main rivals to Novak Djokovic have been placed in the opposite half of the draw and I do think it is going to beat the Serb before the Final in a little under two weeks time.

Things were so different twelve months ago as Novak Djokovic had come into Wimbledon after being upset at the French Open by Marco Cecchinato. Frustration was getting the better of Djokovic who had even thought about missing the third Grand Slam of the 2018 season, but it turned out a fantastic decision as the tournament sparked a very strong run.

Novak Djokovic didn't just win the title at Wimbledon, but it propelled him to win the US Open and Australian Open and only a tight Semi Final loss to Dominic Thiem at the French Open has ended his winning streak at the Slams. Now he will be looking to get a new run started as he opens Centre Court on the first day of Wimbledon as is the honour afforded to the defending men's Champion.

He might have hoped for an easier draw than facing Philipp Kohlschreiber who has been a comfortable grass court player throughout his career and who beat Djokovic at Indian Wells in March for his first win over this opponent in seven years. Since then Djokovic has earned some revenge by beating the German in Monte Carlo and Rome on the clay courts and I do think the match up is one that the World Number 1 should be relatively comfortable with.

While there have been times when Kohlschreiber has had success against the Djokovic serve, the latter has broken in 33% of return games played and should be able to put this opponent under pressure. The fact that Kohlschreiber has lost both grass court matches played in the last three weeks and his continuing declining numbers as far as the return of serve goes should give Djokovic the edge even in his first competitive match on the surface in 2019.

In both 2017 and 2018 Djokovic has been very strong behind serve on the grass, but it is the returning where he has really impressed and been a big part of the reason he has compiled a combined 19-2 run on the surface across that time. He will feel he can capitalise on Kohlschreiber's serve if the latter is unable to improve on the 75% of service games held across his two matches this year on the grass courts and I do give Novak Djokovic a considerable edge.

A first match on the grass can mean some players take time to acclimatise with their surroundings and their sole match at Wimbledon saw Djokovic win 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. This time I think he can cover a big number on the handicap by finding at least one or two more breaks of serve than he did in 2015 and I also think Djokovic will be a little tougher to break for the German which can see him produce a slightly wider margin of victory.

Andrea Arnaboldi-Ivo Karlovic over 39.5 games: Arguably the most famous win in Ivo Karlovic's career came at Wimbledon back in 2003 when he defeated Lleyton Hewitt in the First Round. That win came at a time when Karlovic was considering his future in the sport, but he Qualified for the tournament and then became only the second player to beat the defending Champion in the First Round at Wimbledon.

Ever since the Croatian has made a very good career for himself despite the limitations on the return of serve. However the huge serve possessed by the big man has made Ivo Karlovic a dangerous opponent for every player on the Tour and a peak Ranking of Number 14 is not to be disrespected.

It is something of a surprise to see a 40 year old Ivo Karlovic still out on the Tour competing, although there are signs this could be the final year for him. He is slipping down the World Rankings and Karlovic is just 4-3 on the grass courts over the last month as he continues to serve big, but the return has declined a little more.

Ivo Karlovic is still not going to be an easy out and he is favoured to beat Andrea Arnaboldi who has come through three tough Qualifiers to make the First Round at Wimbledon. This is actually the first time the Italian is going to be playing in the main draw at this Grand Slam, but he will be feeling good for the three wins he has produced in the Qualifiers even if Arnaboldi does not have a deep grass court pedigree to say the least.

He has tried to Qualify for Wimbledon before but fallen short, although I do think Arnaboldi can feel good about his performances to get into the First Round. It will be a boost to the World Ranking, but a really big one if he can upset Karlovic even if this is going to be a challenge for him.

Andrea Arnaboldi is going to have to have a very big serving day to have a chance because I am not sure he is going to have a lot of joy out of the Ivo Karlovic serve. The Croatian can be vulnerable early in the Wimbledon tournament with a number of early exits here and I do think Arnaboldi can perhaps steal a set at the very least which is the reason for this selection.

Ivo Karlovic is rightly the favourite, but he is someone who is going to rely on a single break of serve to try and win sets. Three of his last four First Round matches at Wimbledon have gone at least four sets and this is a match that could feature at least two tie-breakers. I can't really see Andrea Arnaboldi winning this in straight sets, but the Italian is capable of stealing a tie-breaker at the least and I will look for the total games mark to be surpassed.

Stefanos Tsitsipas - 6.5 games v Thomas Fabbiano: An arm injury was perhaps slowing Stefanos Tsitsipas down when he played at Queens last month, but he was back in action in exhibition matches last week and should be ready to compete at Wimbledon. The young Greek superstar is going to have plenty of fans backing him in the third Grand Slam of the season, although I do think the return is going to continue to hold him back at this stage of his career.

It makes it difficult to back Tsitsipas when it comes to covering big spreads like we see in the First Round on Monday, but this is the second year in a row he will be facing Thomas Fabbiano at this Grand Slam. Twelve months ago Stefanos Tsitsipas beat the Italian pretty comfortably in a Third Round match and I do think the match up is one that should not tax the higher Ranked player from a mental or physical standpoint.

I do like Thomas Fabbiano who gives plenty of himself on the court, and this is a player that should be respected having reached the Semi Final in Eastbourne last week. However he had a couple of early defeats on the grass prior to that tournament and it was a long week for the Italian having started in the Qualifiers in Eastbourne before the improbable run to the final four.

Even with that run behind him, Thomas Fabbiano is holding just 76% of his service games played on the grass and I do think his is a vulnerable shot. That will help someone like Tsitsipas get his teeth into the return games and improve his own numbers, and I do think that is a difference maker in the match.

Like a lot of players who can be vulnerable on the serve, Fabbiano is someone that does get the most out of his return. Even that side of his game will be challenged by someone like Tsitsipas who has held 82% of his service games played on the grass in 2019 and who had been up at 89% in 2018.

In their match last year at Wimbledon Tsitsipas was breaking the Italian's serve for fun and while I can't expect those numbers again, I do think the top ten Ranked player can have plenty of success in this one too. It should give Tsitsipas the chance to be in a position to cover this handicap mark, although I do think Thomas Fabbiano has been playing well enough over the last ten days to be afforded plenty of respect.

I would not be surprised if one of the sets is very competitive, but Stefanos Tsitsipas should be able to secure at least one set with a double break of serve. That should be enough to put him in a position to cover the mark and I will look for him to do that in the First Round.

Kyle Edmund - 5.5 games v Jaume Munar: There was some very good news for fans of British tennis that Andy Murray looks to have come through his surgery which could mean a return to the Singles Tour in the coming months. However he is only able to play Doubles at Wimbledon this summer which means there is more pressure on the other big names to find their best tennis at the tournament which garners the most headlines from the sport in the United Kingdom.

The British Number 1 going into Wimbledon is Kyle Edmund, although a poor 2019 has seen him slip down the World Rankings. His place as the top rated British player is going to be threatened by Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans over the next few months, but a strong performance at SW19 will keep those players at arm's length for Edmund.

Having a big tournament is no guarantee for Edmund though as he has yet to find his most consistent tennis on the surface. A strong run to the Semi Final in Eastbourne last week will have given Edmund some confidence, while the draw for the First Round looks a good one against an opponent who has yet to win a grass court match on the pro Tour in his career.

For Edmund to have a very good Wimbledon he will have to pick up his play as far as the returning goes on the surface. His serve is a big weapon for him though and I expect that can keep Jaume Munar under some element of control in this match, especially as the Spaniard has won just 9% of return games played in his two losses on the grass this past month.

The Spaniard has found some decent serving of his own as he has been able to hold 81% of the service games played in his two matches with Marton Fucsovics and Borna Coric. That isn't that surprising a number considering the surface and the fact he has played Coric at a time when he was not at his best and eventually pulling out of the tournament in Halle and Wimbledon with an injury.

I do think Munar will have some joy against Edmund considering the latter has not managed to get higher than an 18% break percentage in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019. That should give the inexperienced grass courter an opportunity to get into a couple of the sets and perhaps even edge one, but Edmund should have the superior serve on the numbers and that will build pressure.

Covering the number is no forgone conclusion, but I do think that pressure will see Munar perhaps slip away in one set in the longest format of the sport. As long as Kyle Edmund can cope with being the British Number 1 at Wimbledon, like he was last year, I think he should have enough to win this First Round match and get over the line set by the layers.

Venus Williams - 4.5 games v Cori Gauff: I wanted to write down a few words about the match that should earn plenty of headlines on Monday on the first day of the Championships. Cori 'Coco' Gauff has become the youngest Qualifier to reach the Wimbledon main draw and at 15 years old there is a bright future in front of her.

There have been the inevitable comparisons with the Williams Sisters already, and the early successes in her career certainly suggest Gauff is capable of making it as far as she wants in the sport.

It may have come out of a Hollywood script, but the draw pitting Gauff against Venus Williams has really raised the whole expectation around her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon. Winning three matches as comfortably as she did to get here will also mean there will be plenty of expectation on the shoulders of the young American against a veteran who is looking for one more big run at SW19.

This is by far the biggest match of Gauff's young career and I think it is a situation in which most expect her to thrive rather than freeze on the big stage. Playing on Court One is a big ask of anyone though, no matter how level headed you are, and I think Venus Williams is going to have too much for her on a surface on which Williams is still able to play some of her best tennis.

The key for Venus Williams is that I think she is going to have plenty of joy on the return of serve and her own serve is still producing enough free points to offer a real challenge for Gauff. I would not be surprised if one set is quite competitive as I can see a situation where Venus Williams perhaps is not motivated enough to want to embarrass someone she will look at and perhaps see similarities with her own experiences.

However Venus Williams is here to win the title over the next two weeks and the veteran should be able to record a comfortable enough win on the day. The future for Cori Gauff will still be very bright regardless as she joins a number of teenagers that look to be the future of women's tennis.

Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 games v Alize Cornet: A strong run to the Eastbourne Quarter Final will have given Alize Cornet a shot of confidence going into Wimbledon, but she is still yet to show any real consistency on the grass courts. Her First Round draw is far from easy too as she faces former World Number 1 Victoria Azarenka who is also searching for consistency on the Tour, but who has dominated the Frenchwoman when they have met.

The last of those matches was back in 2016 so it is largely irrelevant, although I do think Alize Cornet can be susceptible to feeling things mentally and emotionally and that record won't be far from her mind.

I have to respect some of the performances Cornet has put together on the grass courts over the last month, and her numbers have backed that up, but the relatively small sample of matches can't always be taken at face value. In recent years Cornet has not been nearly as successful as she has over the last couple of weeks and I do think this is a difficult match up for her if Azarenka is anything near her best.

You can't really count on that as you once could when Victoria Azarenka would go into Slams amongst the favourites to win the title. Her sole grass court match in 2019 resulted in a defeat to Caroline Garcia, the Nottingham Champion, while Azarenka will also expect to show better on her return if she is really going to start moving up the World Rankings again.

I would expect the Victoria Azarenka first serve to be the more effective shot on the day and that should give her the platform to win this match. She should also have the slight edge when it comes to the second serve, but I will say it can be difficult to back Azarenka on her current form.

The key factor will be how Cornet copes if things start going against her- she is a player that can just crumble all around when things go wrong and that could see Azarenka pull away for a good looking win. It is enough coupled with their recent history on the grass to want to back Azarenka here and I will look for her to cover the number on the handicap.

MY PICKS: Roberto Bautista Agut - 7.5 Games @ 2.20 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Denis Kudla - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 7.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrea Arnaboldi-Ivo Karlovic Over 39.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Stefanos Tsitsipas - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kyle Edmund - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sofia Kenin - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Polona Hercog - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Petra Martic - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 1.5 Sets @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Season 2019: + 89.11 Units (1144 Units Staked, + 7.79% Yield)

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 29th)

The Wimbledon draw was made on Friday morning and the excitement for the tournament has begun to build.

There are some interesting First Round matches to come on Monday and Tuesday, while the potential for some huge matches in the days ahead has to excite the fans.

I will say the men's draw looks much more 'predictable' than the women's draw as has been the case in the last few Slams, but you can never tell how a draw will shape up. In saying that I would be surprised if one of the big three men's players is not holding the trophy in two weeks time.

The bottom half of the women's draw looks the weaker of the two sections and I can see someone like Venus Williams making a big run if she can get through the first couple of matches. Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber are both competing in the Eastbourne Final and have to be respected, while i could make a serious case for the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams here too, but then again it wouldn't be a huge surprise if we see something like we did in Paris and the final four being a mix of new faces and experienced campaigners.

Sam Querrey - 1.5 games v Taylor Fritz: Two American players will compete for the Eastbourne title on Saturday and we should see a big serving match develop between them. Taylor Fritz and Sam Querrey shared out four matches on the hard courts in 2018, but this is the first time they will be playing on the grass.

Out of the two players I do think Sam Querrey has shown more belief in his ability to play on this surface. He has had a strong week coming out of his injury lay off on the Tour and the Querrey serve remains a huge weapon for him having been the main reason he was able to see off Thomas Fabbiano in the Semi Final.

He has also continued to return effectively, although Querrey will know he can't be as loose with his break points in the Final as he was in the Semi Final. Saving break points was also a huge reason why Taylor Fritz was able to win his own Semi Final against Kyle Edmund, but he was very fortunate in the match and will need to be better if he is going to win the title here.

The Querrey numbers have been slightly stronger than what Fritz has been able to perform in Eastbourne so far this week. Where Querrey has held 95% of his service games, Fritz is at 91%, while the veteran American has broken in 23% of return games compared with Fritz' 22%.

Even in their previous matches Sam Querrey has had the edge over Taylor Fritz with a slightly better hold percentage compared with Taylor Fritz. I have little doubt that both players are going to be able to run through some service games without being threatened, but I expect Querrey may get into a position to return a few more serves with some depth that can make the difference in this Final.

The spread is rightly a tight one because it won't take a lot to shift this in favour of Fritz, but I think he has been a little more fortunate to get into the Final than his opponent. With the momentum picked up behind the serve, I think Querrey can be trusted to get through his service games with a little less concern than Fritz and I think that leads to a win and a cover for the former Wimbledon Semi Finalist.

MY PICKS: Sam Querrey - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-9, - 2.68 Units (36 Units Staked, - 7.44% Yield)

Friday, 28 June 2019

Boxing Picks 2019- Demetrius Andrade vs Maciej Sulecki (June 29th)

It has been a busy month of Boxing when you think there has been two Heavyweight fights involving what many considered to be the Number 1 and Number 2 in the Division as promoters continue to 'marinate' the big fights.

Where else to begin but going back to the start of the month and those marination plans turning to ash when Anthony Joshua was stunned in his defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. The entire Heavyweight Division has been shaken to the foundations after that result and the rematch is now set to take place later in 2019 in what is likely going to be the biggest fight in the sport during this calendar year.

You couldn't help but be stunned by what we were watching with Joshua's fall from the top of the sport, although I think he is far from over. There have been flaws that most would have pointed out and those that were most likely going to be exposed by the likes of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, but you can't really sugarcoat the defeat to Ruiz Jr who was a massive underdog going into the fight.

Andy Ruiz Jr was working on short notice and not enough attention was paid to a solid amateur career as he 'shook up the world' with a pummelling of Joshua for four Rounds. Now he holds the keys to the kingdom, although Ruiz Jr will be the first to admit he needs to win the rematch to really get to taste the fruits of his labour.

Despite all the talk putting to bed the rumours around the Joshua build up, I remain convinced something wasn't quite right going into the fight. Even then I do think his style is one that Ruiz Jr will enjoy and I can't wait for the rematch, although if I was advising Joshua I may think about a rebuild first.

That is down to the flaws I have mentioned once already- he is not a very good mover, he doesn't use the jab half as well as he should and most fighters get a clean shot on the whiskers because of the lack of head movement. It was a major reason I fancied Wilder to beat him in a shoot out, although for now that fight looks dead in the water without a huge performance from AJ when he faces Ruiz Jr again.

June 1st was a shocker, whereas June 15th was a party as Tyson Fury announced himself to the American audience in his ESPN debut. From the off Fury looked much more comfortable than Joshua and he looks on course for the big rematch with Deontay Wilder that will likely take place in early 2020 regardless of what Eddie Hearn suggests.

Both Wilder and Fury should be back in action in consecutive weeks in late September/early October and I would expect them to formally announce their rematch for February/March 2020 later in the year.

We always get to read about some nonsense in Boxing and the latest is a couple of statements made by the WBC- I've always liked the green belt more than the others out there, but the creation of a 'Pearl' Belt for the joke of a fight Amir Khan was about to be involved in baffled me. Somehow the WBC managed an even crazier decision when they made Canelo Alvarez their 'Franchise' Champion.

Some have compared this situation to the WBA Super and Regular Championships, but apparently the 'Franchise' Champion cannot drop that status even if he loses a bout. In a sport where we already have a tedious amount of titles, this is a ridiculous decision and one designed to keep Canelo on board rather than forcing mandatories on him as their Champion.

The WBC and Canelo had a major falling out before the first bout with Gennady Golovkin was ever signed and it seems clear the former don't want to lose their sanctioning fees behind the biggest star in the sport by basically making him untouchable. Jermall Charlo has been upgraded to World Champion by the WBC after this ruling, but the American is even less impressed than the fans as his chances of forcing Canelo into the ring diminished.

Jermall Charlo is in action this weekend and perhaps his target going forward will be the winner of the Demetrius Andrade and Maciej Sulecki bout which is for the WBO Middleweight Championship. That might be the next Unification we get in this Division which has been muddied by the WBC's ruling on Canelo, while it isn't an easy fight to make with the two fights being on different networks.

Joseph Parker is also back this weekend and has become more relevant in the last month as the only person to hold a professional win over Andy Ruiz Jr.

Erikson Lubin continues his rebuild towards another Title shot, while Richard Commey is back this weekend too as he looks to secure a future fight with Vasyl Lomachenko.

Talking about Lomachenko, I really hope his next fight is secured for a London venue as has been rumoured. The opportunity to see a pound for pound world star is going to be too much to pass up, especially in a year where the cards in the UK have been disappointing to say the least.

It has been a few weeks since the last Boxing Picks were made with those coming from Madison Square Garden. That wasn't a great evening for the Picks, but Callum Smith's blow out win helped limit the loss and the season remains in a profitable position at the halfway mark.

As I have been saying for a while though, I am looking for better successes than the first six months have provided. It was a very difficult start which has been turned around so I have to be pleased about that, but finishing June with a winning record is the target before we head into a good looking July.

Richard Commey vs Raymundo Beltran
If it wasn't for an injury sustained in his win over Isa Chaniev, IBF Lightweight World Champion Richard Commey would have already been scheduled to face Vasyl Lomachenko in a Unification bout in that Division. Instead Lomachenko stopped Anthony Crolla to fulfil a mandatory and is in line to take on Luke Campbell with an opportunity to add the WBC belt to his growing collection.

The Lomachenko fight is still there for Commey, but the Champion is going to have to tread a tough path to get to it with the IBF setting up a tournament to determine his mandatory to fulfil. Teofimo Lopez is fighting in an eliminator next month so the path is a difficult one for Commey who is yet to truly show what he has to offer.

He could have taken an easier fight than Raymundo Beltran who was the WBO Lightweight Champion last year. Like Commey, fate prevented Beltran from getting in the ring with Lomachenko having surprisingly dropped his Title to Jose Pedraza and the 38 year old will know he is drinking in the last chance saloon in this fight.

No matter what happens, Raymundo Beltran will not be a World Champion on Saturday morning as he missed weight. The fight should still go ahead, but there have to be questions about Beltran who has shown plenty of toughness and skill throughout his career.

Freddie Roach is going to be looking for Beltran to use what many perceive to be the superior boxing skills to try and get the edge over Richard Commey. The heavier hands seem to be in favour of Commey, but the Ghanaian can be susceptible to the counter shots and that is where Beltran has to make him pay.

I certainly think he can through the first half of the fight, but there is plenty of wear and tear on the Beltran body. Raymundo Beltran has been down in two of his last five fights which has to be a concern when facing a puncher like Commey and I do think we will see the Mexican slow down enough in the second half of the fight to give his opponent the chance to put the leather down on him.

My feeling is that is when the tough career Beltran has had will come back to bite him as a heavier hitting, younger Champion is just allowed to tee off. The referee is unlikely to want to see too much of that and I would not be surprised to see Commey come through with a second half stoppage in what should be a very good looking fight to watch for however long it goes.

Joseph Parker vs Alex Leapai
Two defeats to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018 has just curtailed the progress Joseph Parker has made in the Heavyweight Division. He lost his WBO Title and Parker looked to be in a tier below the best Heavyweights and scrambling to move back into a position of contention.

Even the blow out of Alexander Flores in a homecoming bout at the end of 2018 wasn't going to really get people sitting up and taking notice, but the last six weeks could not have gone better for a Boxer that has not entered the ring in that time.

First off Joseph Parker struck a deal with Matchroom on May 31st which means he is on a good platform and with the chance for some big dust ups with British fighters going forward. He will also be given exposure on DAZN in the United States and at 27 years old Parker can definitely come again.

June 1st was even bigger for Parker as a day after signing his deal, Andy Ruiz Jr beat Anthony Joshua to pick up three World Titles. Of course that has raised Parker's stock as the only fighter to hold a professional win over the new Champion and now the New Zealander can't ask for a much better position to be in with two losses over the last fourteen months behind him.

He can't afford the same type of slip as Joshua when being presented to the American audience this week as he takes on Alex Leapai in something of a local rivalry. The Australian has only had One Round in eighteen months and has struggled when stepping up having been stopped by Wladimir Klitschko and beaten on points by Malik Scott and Manuel Charr.

Alex Leapai will likely give it a go though and that is what should make the fight a fan friendly one for those tuning in. Joseph Parker should want to go out and make a statement of his own by stopping Leapai quicker than Klitschko did when he took Five Rounds to beat an opponent who had already been stopped by Kevin Johnson by the time that World Title fight came around.

I do think we could see some leather fly, but Parker should be the sturdier of the two at this time of their careers. Joseph Parker has had plenty more ring time than Leapai in the last eighteen months and against high level opponents for the most part and I think the New Zealander comes out to do a top job.

Backing Parker to win this fight in the first half of the scheduled Twelve Rounds is the selection. I can't help feel Alex Leapai is looking at this as a nice payday after a long layoff and I am not sure a 39 year old will have a lot of resistance to what is thrown his way in this one.

He won't want to lay down at the first sign of trouble, but Leapai should have issues getting into the second half of the fight as Parker puts a strong finish on to announce his return to the Division. Expect to hear a lot about Parker's win over Ruiz Jr throughout the time he is out there and I am expecting Parker to do a clinical job to highlight the improvements he has been talking about and improve on the speed of the Klitschko finish over Leapai.

Demetrius Andrade vs Maciej Sulecki
When Canelo Alvarez declared he wanted to win all four belts in the Middleweight Division, Demetrius Andrade's ears must have lit up. Before the nonsense of a ruling made by the WBC to make Canelo their 'Franchise Champion', the only belt he didn't hold in the Middleweight Division was the one that Andrade has been parading around, but that potential fight looks like it has taken a step back after the going ons of the last week.

This is most definitely not the time for Demetrius Andrade to allow disappointing to seep into his performances as he defends his World Title on Saturday. There does seem to be some needle between him and Maciej Sulecki which should add to the motivation of the Champion who can sometimes be criticised of coasting through fights he is winning rather than putting the hammer down and taking opponents out.

Knock Outs and Stoppages are what really gets the fans wanting to see more rather than someone doing enough to win fights easily without wanting to entertain. Many have suggested that to Andrade in the past, but it has not always been the case for Boo Boo himself although I do think fighting in Providence should also add to his motivation to make a statement.

Maciej Sulecki pushed Danny Jacobs to a Decision loss in April 2018 and that remains the only negative on his ledger. The win over Gabriel Rosado in March has presented the Pole with this opportunity, but I would be concerned that Rosado managed to put him down twice in the Ninth Round and Jacobs put him down in the Twelfth Round in those two bouts I have mentioned.

I am not sure what kind of power Andrade holds as he does hurt opponents when putting his shots together, but the 'killer instinct' can be lacking. In this one I expect Andrade to outbox Sulecki and build a big lead on the cards before trying to take him out in the Championship Rounds as his home supporters urge him to do so.

Sulecki has perhaps shown there is a potential weakness in him as the fight reaches those Championship Rounds and this is something Andrade should be looking to pounce on. The Champion did stop an overmatched Artur Akavov in the Twelfth Round in his last fight and Andrade's last two stoppages have come in that Round.

While the most sensible play is expecting Andrade to win this by a wide margin on the scorecards, I think he will be feeling pretty comfortable by the Seventh or Eighth Round. At that time being at home and wanting to make a statement to offer his services to a potential bout with Canelo should see Andrade want to push on and really put it on Sulecki to the point where the ref potentially steps in and calls a halt to this contest.

If Andrade pushes on I do think he can put Sulecki down in the Championship Rounds and I would expect him to want to put his shots together at that point to end the contest without the need for judges. It is certainly worth a small interest on Saturday night.

Jermall Charlo vs Brandon Adams
It has been a strange week for Jermall Charlo having been upgraded to a full WBC Middleweight Champion in the lead up to this bout. Obviously becoming a World Champion in two weights is a huge achievement, but any hope Charlo had in luring Canelo Alvarez into the ring looks to be gone with the decision made by the WBC.

Earning big fights in the Division is going to be difficult when you think the remaining belts are in control of another network and I am not sure what Charlo is going to do going forward with that in mind.

You could forgive him for lacking some motivation heading into what is looking like a mismatch on paper. Brandon Adams has a loss to Willie Monroe Jr on his record, but Jermall Charlo represents another step up from that level and winning The Contender is not enough to really believe in him.

The Champion looks much bigger when they have stood next to each other and he will be looking to match twin brother Jermell who secured a highlight reel KO last weekend. Fighting at home should inspire Charlo and I think he is going to be too big and too strong for Adams, while also erasing the memory of his last struggling performance against Matvey Korobov with a strong performance to underline his new status as WBC Champion.

I have a feeling Charlo is going to come out and look to cut off the ring immediately and draw Adams into a scrap in which Charlo's power should be the telling difference. His brother won his fight with a Third Round KO last week, I think Jermall Charlo will be able to secure his victory within the first Four Rounds too before calling out some of the bigger names in the Division.

MY PICKS: Richard Commey to Win Between 7-12 @ 3.80 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Joseph Parker to Win Between 1-4 @ 2.87 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Demetrius Andrade to Win Between 7-12 @ 7.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Jermall Charlo to Win Between 1-4 @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Boxing 2019: 14-24, + 6.48 Units (61 Units Staked, + 10.62% Yield)
Boxing 2018: + 5.14 Units (159 Units Staked, + 3.23% Yield)

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 28th)

Thursday was about as rough a day as I have had in 2019, but there was plenty of frustration involved with some of the matches twisting away from the selection despite looking like being in a strong position.

These things can happen in a sport where tiny mistakes can be magnified over the course of a match- I am still not sure how Alize Cornet was beaten by Ons Jabeur having had so many chances to win the match in straight sets.

It wasn't just bad luck though, I have no idea why I wanted to ever back Victor Troicki to win a match considering he has been on my blacklist for a long time now. That is on me, but I won't be making that mistake again.

Friday is a big day for Tennis fans as the third Grand Slam draw will be released in the morning. Wimbledon Qualifiers have been completed on Thursday and the Seeds were released on Wednesday as the excitement for the latest tournament in SW19 continues to build.

The weather looks pretty stunning over the next few days so we should get to see plenty of Tennis being played, but it looks like it is going to be tough going for the players with the heat that is expected to hit London. That's part of the challenges of getting into a position to win a Grand Slam title and I am looking forward to seeing things get underway at Wimbledon in a couple of days time.

On Friday we are down to the Semi Final matches at the three tournaments being played this week. A poor Thursday likely means it is going to be a losing week, but overall the grass court season has provided a positive before Wimbledon begins.

Angelique Kerber - 5.5 games v Ons Jabeur: You can't take anything away from Ons Jabeur and the run she has had so far this week, although the ankle she turned at the end of her Quarter Final win over Alize Cornet has to be a concern for a player in the best tournament of her career. Fortune has most definitely been on Jabeur's side so far this week with not one, but two matches being won in which she has won fewer points than her opponent.

That really is something that doesn't happen too often and certainly not twice in the same week, but the Tunisian is taking full advantage of the way things have fallen for her. The absence of Ashleigh Barty meant this quarter of the draw looked very open, although Jabeur needs to be given more credit for helping keep it open by beating Johanna Konta.

This is a big step up for her though as she gets set to take on Angelique Kerber in the Semi Final in Eastbourne. The defending Wimbledon Champion thumped Simona Halep in a very easy Quarter Final on Thursday and Kerber looks to be very comfortable back on the grass after a difficult clay court portion of the 2019 season.

Angelique Kerber is looking healthy and she has been serving very well in Eastbourne while backing it up with some decent returning. This has been one surface on which Kerber has tended to produce her best serving efforts and I do think that is going to put pressure on Jabeur who will find it tough to break the defences of her German opponent.

She did struggle on the return against Cornet in the Quarter Final and I think Kerber's style is similar while being more effective with what she does. You have to respect the fact that Jabeur seems to be playing with a lot of belief which has enabled her to come through matches when she has looked second best, but doing that against Kerber will be far from easy.

Even though Jabeur has put up four wins in a row in Eastbourne, I would have to point out the three sets she has dropped have been by 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1 scores. All of those have been the first set played and I think it will be a very long road back against Kerber if Jabeur starts off as slowly as she has in three of the four matches played this week.

Angelique Kerber is serving well enough to put Ons Jabeur in a tough spot in this match and I think she should win the match. I also think Kerber will cover if all things are equal on the day and Jabeur is not able to save multiple break points at tough times as she did in her wins over Evgeniya Rodina and Alize Cornet so far in Eastbourne.

Sam Querrey - 3.5 games v Thomas Fabbiano: An injury meant Sam Querrey missed the vast majority of the clay court season, but I don't think that has ever been a particularly positive time of the year for him. The American has looked like he has never been away from the Tour this week in Eastbourne where he will be competing in the Semi Final against a surprise player reaching the last four in Thomas Fabbiano.

You may think Fabbiano would be player that is more likely to favour the clay courts than the grass courts being from Italy, but he has had some very good performances on the surface over recent years. In this tournament Fabbiano has come through the Qualifiers to take his place in the main draw and overcome a couple of difficult moments to reach the Semi Final.

The main reason for his success so far this week has to be how well Fabbiano has been able to look after his serve with 65% of points won behind that shot. That is a vast improvement on how things went for the Italian in 2018 and in the four matches he played on the grass prior to Eastbourne and it has also allowed him to hold closer to 80% of the service games he has played on the grass this week.

He has always been a surprisingly effective returner on the grass courts, but Thomas Fabbiano is going to be tested by Sam Querrey who has held 93% of his service games played in the tournament. It is going to be hard to break the Querrey serve if he continues to win 77% of the points played behind that shot and it is a big reason he has been able to come back and produce three wins on his return to competitive action.

Backing that up is Querrey's returning which matches up to what Thomas Fabbiano has produced this week. Both players are winning 41% of points against the opponent's serve, and that has led to Fabbiano breaking in 30% of return games and Querrey in 28%.

Their one previous match came on the grass courts of Wimbledon and on that day Querrey was able to hold 87% of his service games played and restrict Fabbiano to 69%. That came in 2017 when Thomas Fabbiano produced similar serving numbers as he has been in this tournament and I think Sam Querrey is going to get the better of him again.

It won't be an easy handicap to cover, but the American looks to be in fine nick and I think his serving makes the difference on the day. Thomas Fabbiano is still guilty of one or two really sloppy service games per match and Sam Querrey is returning well enough to take advantage while also restricting the chances that the Italian is able to generate.

Kyle Edmund - 1.5 games v Taylor Fritz: Having taken over from Andy Murray as the British Number 1 over the last twelve months, Kyle Edmund has been busy underlining that position this week in Eastbourne. Wins over Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans, the British Number 2 and Number 3 respectively, have seen Edmund reach the Semi Final of the tournament as he looks for the first real success on the grass courts.

This is far from an easy Semi Final as Edmund gets ready to take on Taylor Fritz who is considered one of the bright hopes of American Tennis. There is no doubt that Fritz has some room for improvement to really fulfil the potential he has, but he could be about to reach a new career high World Ranking at the end of this tournament.

Taylor Fritz has won three matches while dropping one set to reach the Semi Final and his numbers have looked strong. The American possesses a serve that is always going to give him a chance on the grass courts and he has won 88% of his service games so far this week while securing 67% of the points behind the serve.

The key for Fritz so far this week is the level of returning which is far above the numbers he has produced on the grass courts in his career so far. In recent years on the grass courts Fritz has never surpassed winning 34% of return points during a season on the surface, but in this tournament he is up at 40% which is setting up more breaks of serve.

It will be a challenge to get into the Edmund service games when you think the British Number 1 has won 70% of the points played behind that shot. Kyle Edmund is holding 85% of his service games too, and like Fritz he is winning a lot more points on the return of serve than he has previously been able to do on the grass courts.

There are some real similarities with the way Edmund and Fritz have played on the grass courts and I do think this is going to be a close match. However it is Edmund who has been able to produce a little more consistently of the two players and I think that is going to be the factor that determines the outcome of this match even if we do potentially need three sets to separate them.

Taylor Fritz is improving and a real threat with the confidence he has, but Kyle Edmund might be the slightly more effective returner. With both possessing strong serves, that slight difference on the return could be a key to the outcome of the match and I will back the British player to give the home crowd something to smile about by reaching the Final in Eastbourne days before Wimbledon gets underway.

MY PICKS: Angelique Kerber - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Querrey - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Kyle Edmund - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-8, - 2.12 Units (32 Units Staked, - 6.63% Yield)

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 27th)

With just four days to go before Wimbledon gets underway the Seedings have been released, not without controversy, and the draws will be made on Friday morning.

Those players involved in the tournaments played in Antalya and Eastbourne will be focusing on finishing this week with a title as we are down to the Quarter Final matches at all of those events. The WTA event in Eastbourne is of particular importance as it could lay a marker for Wimbledon, while there are important Ranking points on offer in the two ATP events being played even if none of the players in the last eight are really expected to have a big showing in SW19 over the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday ended up being a successful day with two of the three completed Tennis Picks coming back as winners. I did have some fortune when Jelena Ostapenko retired after her early struggles, but the hope is that the Latvian is going to recover in time for Wimbledon and she only pulled out as a precaution after looking like she was struggling with her movement.

It has been a decent week so far, but I am looking to push on with the end of the tournaments before the full concentration can shift to Wimbledon. The first two Grand Slam events have provided positive numbers, but keeping that going will be the goal through another tournament.

Alize Cornet v Ons Jabeur: This is not the Quarter Final anyone would have expected when the draw was made last week, but both Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur have deserved their spot in the last eight. The decision made by Ashleigh Barty to withdraw from the tournament has helped both of these players, but both have also beaten Seeded players and that should mean there is a real confidence in the play.

In each of the first three matches here so far this week, Ons Jabeur has been showing improvement and she comfortably dismissed an out of sorts Johanna Konta in the Third Round.

The serve has been working pretty effectively so far this week and Jabeur has also shown a little more impact on the return in Eastbourne. However the general numbers in 2019 on the grass courts have not been that impressive and I do wonder if Jabeur can keep up the standard she is at right now.

Like her opponent in this Quarter Final, Jabeur has not had a lot of grass court pedigree in recent years, but this is usually over a small sample of matches. Alize Cornet had also been struggling on the surface, but she has looked very good in Eastbourne and I do believe she is going to have the narrow edge.

The Frenchwoman has gotten more out of the first serve than Jabeur and she has also been returning more effectively with over 50% of return points being won. That number is significantly higher than Jabeur's 44% in Eastbourne, but the Tunisian has had the edge when it comes to the second serve and I do think that is going to make her very competitive.

However I think Cornet's performances should have seen her go into this Quarter Final as a stronger favourite than she is. I do have some reservations about backing Cornet because of her recent past of having a lack of success on the grass courts, but she has looked the better player this week and it has to be noted that Jabeur has also been exceeding her usual levels on this surface.

It might need three sets to separate them, but I will back Cornet to come out on top in this one.

Angelique Kerber-Simona Halep over 21.5 games: There is every chance a match like this one could be gracing Wimbledon at the business end of that tournament in two weeks time. Before we get to that, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep will be looking to lay down a marker for the third Grand Slam of the season as they get set to face off in the Quarter Final in Eastbourne.

This is going to be the eleventh time Kerber and Halep are meeting on the Tour and the second time they are going to play each other on the grass courts. Matches between them have been very competitive and there really isn't a lot to separate them and half of their previous ten matches have needed to go the distance.

The sole meeting on grass took place at Wimbledon in 2016 and was won by Kerber in two tight sets as both players showed off their returning strength throughout that match. We could see more of the same on Thursday in this Quarter Final as both players are very comfortable on the return side of their game while perhaps not having the most telling of serves.

So far this week Angelique Kerber has had the edge when it comes to the serve as she has won plenty of points behind both first and second serves. Simona Halep has not had quite the same numbers, but she is serving well enough too and the Romanian will be looking at the 51% return points won compared to the 42% won by Kerber this week as being a potential difference maker in her favour.

Over the last couple of years I do think Kerber has been the superior grass court player of the two and she won the title at Wimbledon for the first time last season. The German is also a former Runner Up in SW19 and that does make her an appealing selection as the underdog in this match, although Halep has had the slight edge when it comes to the head to head and was a very close loser in their one previous grass court match.

My expectation is that we are going to see a close match and I would not be that surprised if a third set is needed to separate them as has been the case in half of their previous matches. Even two tight sets like they played at Wimbledon in 2016 will be enough to cover the total games line in this one and that is going to be my selection in this Quarter Final.

Kiki Bertens - 2.5 games v Aryna Sabalenka: There has been a vast improvement in the performances produced by Kiki Bertens on all surfaces over the last couple of years. She has reached a career high World Number 4 in the Rankings and Bertens has seemingly gotten over the real disappointment of having to pull out of the French Open in the Second Round in Paris.

The Dutchwoman had gone into the French Open as a real favourite to go on and win her first Grand Slam and it does feel like an opportunity was lost when you consider how that tournament panned out. But any lingering regrets have not been shown by Kiki Bertens as she reached the Final in Hertogenbosch and now the Quarter Final in Eastbourne on the grass courts.

This is a surface that has sometimes baffled Bertens, but she does have a game that you would think should translate onto it. A strong serve and an aggressive attitude is a good starting point for any player on the grass courts and it does feel like Bertens is beginning to put that together in the past three weeks.

Kiki Bertens has been in very good form in Eastbourne as she has won her two matches without too many worries and her numbers back that up. The first serve has been a potent weapon for her with plenty of points being won behind that shot both here and on the grass in general in 2019, but it is the 54% of return points won that have really propelled Bertens forward.

That side of her game is going to be tested by Aryna Sabalenka who reached the Final in Eastbourne last year. She was beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in the Final in 2018, but earned a measure of revenge by overcoming the Dane in the Third Round on Wednesday although I do think Sabalenka is going to need to be even better if she is going to reach the Semi Final.

So far this week Sabalenka has been serving very well too, but she has not been able to return quite as effectively as Bertens. The returning is more productive than it has been in the last couple of weeks when Sabalenka suffered early losses in back to back tournaments so she should be a threat to Bertens, but the head to head is 3-0 in favour of the Dutchwoman and I do think the favourite can win this match and cover the number.

When they have played each other, the Bertens serve has been the stronger of the two players and I do think that is likely going to happen here. With a better return being shown in Eastbourne, Kiki Bertens can win and I will back her to come through to a second Semi Final in a row on the grass courts.

MY PICKS: Alize Cornet @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber-Simona Halep Over 21.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kiki Bertens - 2.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victor Troicki @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 7-4, + 3.88 Units (22 Units Staked, + 17.64% Yield)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Tennis Picks 2019 (June 26th)

The week before a Grand Slam is always an intense one and I am not surprised that a number of players have withdrawn from playing at the tournament in Eastbourne. Some of those have needed a rest after a strong showing last week, while others will not risk any health issues to take into Wimbledon.

However we still have some decent names reaching this stage of the tournaments being played this week and it is a chance for players to lay down a marker for the third Grand Slam of the season. As I mentioned earlier this week, the WTA Eastbourne event is certainly the most eye-catching thanks to the strength of the field they have been able to put together and there are players there who will believe they can ride the momentum from a strong run here into the first week at SW19.

Tuesday was not a very good day for the Tennis Picks which went 2-3 including the two matches that were completed after rain delays forced them to return to the courts after beginning matches on Monday. The good news is that it is still a positive week to now and I am looking to put a good number on the board before turning my attention to the next Slam of the season.

Selections look difficult to make on Wednesday, but I have seen four matches that have fallen within the criteria I have set for the last couple of seasons.

Johanna Konta - 5.5 games v Ons Jabeur: From the outset you have to say that this is a huge number of games for anyone to cover once players have had a couple of matches under their belts, but there are a number of similar spreads in the WTA Eastbourne Third Round matches on Wednesday. The others do seem unappealing on paper, but I do think Johanna Konta has every chance of covering here while continuing her strong form in her home tournament.

It was a difficult match for Konta on Tuesday against Maria Sakkari, but she did enough to edge through in two sets and I do think this is a match a step down from the kind of opposition she faced last time out.

This time Johanna Konta faces Ons Jabeur who was forced to retire from her match last week in Mallorca. That has seemingly not been a lingering issue though as Jabeur has twice come from a set down to win matches this week in what has become an open portion of the draw since Ashleigh Barty withdraw from the tournament.

The Tunisian has regularly shown a solidity on the grass courts without being anything above that. Even her two wins this week have come in close fashion and none of the opponents Jabeur has beaten is anything near the level that Johanna Konta can produce on the grass courts.

This is only the sixth time Jabeur has played a top 50 Ranked opponent on the grass courts and she is 0-5 in those previous matches. The serve is a weapon that can keep Jabeur competitive, but she has struggled with her return of serve and that should be magnified when facing a server like Konta.

I do think it can be difficult to trust Konta to cover this kind of number when you think of the returning stats she produces on the grass courts. This week Konta has won 41% of return points in her two wins, but I do think she can improve on that mark against Jabeur especially if she is seeing plenty of second serves.

In their one sole match back in 2015 Johanna Konta crushed Ons Jabeur for the loss of just four games on a hard court. This one might be a touch closer than that, but Konta is strong enough on the grass to find the three or four breaks of serve she is going to need to cover this mark.

Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 games v Elise Mertens: The former Eastbourne Champion has tended to play her best grass court tennis at this tournament and Karolina Pliskova will be searching for another Quarter Final spot here on Wednesday. She will have been disappointed with the early exit in Birmingham last week, but that was a tough draw for Pliskova who was beaten by her twin sister in the Second Round.

A comfortable win in the Second Round here after a bye in the First Round will have given Karolina Pliskova some confidence to take into this match. However she is going to need more than belief to beat Elise Mertens who has had a good month on the grass leading into this match.

The Belgian has had plenty of success on the grass throughout her career, but it has been a much different story when she has faced top 50 Ranked opponents on the surface. In those matches Mertens is just 4-9 while her entire stats on serve and return have taken a significant hit in those matches as the competition ramps up.

That is certainly going to be the case for Mertens on Wednesday and it will be a really difficult match if Karolina Pliskova continues to serve as big as she has been. The first serve has been a huge weapon for the Czech player so far in her three matches on the grass with almost 80% of points being won behind the first serve.

We should see that number being tested by Mertens who is a strong returner and has the movement to make Pliskova play enough balls to extract mistakes from her game. However I also think that serve is going to make the difference between the players on the day and can help Pliskova win and cover the number.

The Pliskova return has not been the most effective on the grass courts which has to be a concern when asking her to find multiple breaks of serve to cover. My feeling is that she is going to have more joy returning the Mertens serve and Pliskova did win 45% of return points in her win over Margarita Gasparyan in he Second Round to believe in her ability to get the better of this opponent.

Jelena Ostapenko - 2.5 games v Ekaterina Alexandrova: We hadn't seen a lot of grass court pedigree from Ekaterina Alexandrova before the last month and the Russian might be in even stronger form this week than the previous two. Wins over Alja Tomljanovic and Belinda Bencic look very good and confidence has to be high.

Those wins have come behind some very strong serving which has helped Alexandrova put some serious pressure on opponents. She was broken three times by Bencic in the Second Round, but in general the numbers being produced by Alexandrova have to be impressing.

It will be interesting to see how she deals with Jelena Ostapenko who has made it clear she is very much enjoying being back on the grass courts after a difficult year. The results have been strong for the Latvian who has won 50% of her return points played so far this week which has helped make up for some of the loose serving Ostapenko has become known for.

The first serve hasn't been a big problem for Ostapenko, but the second serve can be vulnerable to the point where she pushes too hard and can produce a host of double faults. Giving up free points is not ideal the later you get into a tournament, but the aggressive play Ostapenko produces seems to be well suited to the grass courts and can give her the edge in this match.

As well as Alexandrova has played on the grass over the last couple of weeks, her return has not been as potent as Ostapenko's. The Russian has shown significant improvement on her return compared to previous seasons on the grass, but I think it could be a tough match for her against the Ostapenko first serve.

It feels like it will be a match with a few breaks of serve shared out, but Jelena Ostapenko can continue her strong form shown over the last couple of weeks. Ekaterina Alexandrova has to be respected in her current form, but I am looking for the Ostapenko return to prove to be the key to her success in this match and I will back her to cover.

MY PICKS: Johanna Konta - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jelena Ostapenko - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dan Evans - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 5-3, + 2.28 Units (16 Units Staked, + 14.25% Yield)