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Monday, 1 July 2019

Wimbledon Tennis Day 2 Picks 2019 (July 2nd)

It has been a good start to the Wimbledon Tennis Picks and that despite a day where there were a host of upsets around the grounds in SW19.

I am looking to avoid any of those upsets on Day 2 when the top half of the women's draw gets underway with defending Champion Angelique Kerber opening up Centre Court. The bottom half of the men's draw also gets going on Tuesday with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer due out to play their First Round matches and it should be another good day of Tennis for the fans enjoying the tournament.

Rafael Nadal - 8.5 games v Yuichi Sugita: A first match on the grass courts could see Rafael Nadal being a little vulnerable to a Qualifier. It would not be the first time that the Spaniard has been upset in the early Rounds of this Grand Slam by someone no one really expected to trouble him and Yuichi Sugita should be feeling good with three wins behind him over the past week.

In saying all that, I do think this is a tremendous test for Sugita especially if the courts at SW19 continue to play as slowly as they look to be playing. With the heat in London and a slower grass court, you would have to think Rafael Nadal is going to be very appreciative of the conditions and I do think he can come through with a relatively straight forward win in the First Round.

Rafael Nadal has been very effective behind serve in his last two years on the grass courts and it does make it less concerning to back him without a tournament on the surface behind him. In 2017 and 2018 the Spaniard has held onto over 90% of the service games he has played and I am not sure Yuichi Sugita is going to have a lot of success when he has broken in just 16% of return games on the surface prior to the Qualifiers.

Unlike the clay courts, Nadal does have some issues creating and taking break points on the grass courts. It should not be a massive surprise when you think of the way grass court tennis is played, but Nadal's numbers have been solid enough with his 25% and 26% return games won in the last two years.

He certainly should have enough returning to pressure Sugita who has won 82% of the service games he has played on the grass in 2019 prior to the Qualifiers, although those have been in matches against players much lower down the World Rankings. This is the first match Sugita will play against someone Ranked in the top 90 of the World Rankings which lessens the impact of his numbers.

Yuichi Sugita is very comfortable on the grass which does make him a potentially awkward customer for Rafael Nadal, but I think the Spaniard is going to be able to pull away for a comfortable win. In the last couple of years, Rafael Nadal has dominated his First Round opponent at Wimbledon and I think he will break down Sugita in this one and will be able to cover a big looking number.

Lucas Pouille - 1.5 sets v Richard Gasquet: Two Frenchmen who have previously had strong runs at Wimbledon will have to meet in the First Round this year. Both Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet would be hoping for the kind of draw which would have helped them pick up some significant World Ranking points even if they are not expected to win this Grand Slam title, but they will appreciate the challenge that their compatriot will put in front of them.

Out of the two players I will admit that I do think Richard Gasquet has the significantly better grass court pedigree, but his overall health in 2019 does make it hard to back him. The head to head is also something that can't be ignored with Lucas Pouille leading it 4-1 thanks to four straight wins over Gasquet and the numbers indicate that this is not a great match up for the veteran Frenchman.

None of those previous matches have been on the grass, but you have to take note of the fact that Pouille has held 91% of his service games compared with Gasquet being at 79% in the same category. The Lucas Pouille return is not exactly a big weapon for him, but he seems to be comfortable facing the Gasquet serve and that could be a huge edge for him going into this First Round match.

In general Pouille has really struggled with his return of serve on the grass with a break of serve in just 13% of his return games played in 2019. That is not a surprising number with Pouille being at 18%, 10%, 13% and now 13% since 2016 when it comes to games in which he has broken serve. The saving grace for Pouille has been the strong serving he has put together on the grass courts and he has held 86% of service games on the surface in 2019 and that is again part of some steady numbers produced in recent years.

Richard Gasquet has only recently returned from a lay off caused by injury and he has produced some decent tennis over the last month. The return is superior to Pouille's but he has held a touch fewer service games and I do think that could be an issue coupled with the head to head.

I would not be surprised to see this match being settled in three or four tight sets, but I give the slight edge to Lucas Pouille. Backing him at odds against to win this in three or four sets looks the play for me with the stronger serving and mental edge from four straight wins giving him a slight edge over Richard Gasquet.

Joao Sousa - 4.5 games v Paul Jubb: There are some high hopes for Paul Jubb in British Tennis as he gets set to make his Wimbledon debut on Tuesday. He has been playing out in the United States on the College circuit and Jubb has won the NCAA Singles Championship which is a huge statement to make.

It has certainly raised his profile and over the last month he has been back in the United Kingdom and taking in a number of grass court events in preparation for Wimbledon. There have been some ups and downs with his performances, which have to be expected, but reaching the main draw in Eastbourne with wins over Denis Istomin and Andrey Rublev show the future is bright for Jubb if he can handle the pressure.

He won't be the first British player who perhaps gets tied up by the whole hoopla that comes with Wimbledon, but the draw has also pitted him against someone that many will believe he can beat. However, Joao Sousa has shown he is very comfortable playing on the grass courts and I do think the Portuguese player can not only get the better of the home hope, but also do enough to cover this handicap mark.

Joao Sousa has not had as many wins as he would have liked, but he has held onto 90% of his service games on the grass over the last month. That number is significantly higher than Paul Jubb's 83% mark, while the have similar returning statistics and I think that gives Sousa the edge especially the longer this match goes.

There are some good signs with the way Jubb has played moving into Tour matches, but the first best of five can be an eye opening experience. With Joao Sousa having the slight edge as far as the serving has gone over the last month and also playing a relatively higher level than Jubb, I expect the veteran to wear down the 'New Kid on the Block' and he can cover the handicap mark too.

Fabio Fognini v Francis Tiafoe: He is not the first player to decide to skip the grass court season and head straight to Wimbledon and it has become something of the norm for Fabio Fognini. There is a chance of earning some significant World Ranking points for Fognini who has entered the top 10 of the Rankings after a strong clay court season, although the Italian has made it clear he is not sure what to expect at this tournament.

When someone says that it should produce some alarm bells and Fognini is the underdog in this First Round match, but he has produced some solid grass court tennis in the last couple of years which does make him appealing in that spot. Last year Fognini reached the Third Round at Wimbledon without playing any grass court tournaments in the lead up, but he has been in action in exhibition matches and so should be as prepared as he wants to be.

Fabio Fognini might even enjoy the conditions if the grass is playing slower than previous years as was the indication through the first day at The Championships. We are going to need to see more data before any long-term statements can be made, but Fognini should be happy enough and he has shown he is a player that can return effectively on the surface.

His First Round opponent is Francis Tiafoe who has been playing on the grass over the last month as he looks to get some strong Ranking points on the board. Early defeats in Hertogenbosch and London were not in the plans for the American who has held just 75% of his service games in the three matches played on the grass in 2019.

Francis Tiafoe can serve well enough on the grass courts with the big game he possesses, but the return is still an area in which he is trying to improve. I do think he can have more success playing against the Fognini serve which can be erratic to say the least, but I also think the Italian will put Tiafoe under pressure with his superior return game.

I haven't always been pleased in backing Fognini, but I do think this is a good spot for him as the underdog. The lack of grass court tennis this past month and the comments from the Italian about having 'no expectations' going into Wimbledon are a worry, but he has had the superior grass court numbers compared with Tiafoe who has been having a tough month on the surface.

Jan-Lennard Struff - 4.5 games v Radu Albot: The late decision from Borna Coric which saw him withdraw from Wimbledon meant the tournament was lacking one Seed in the men's draw. The biggest beneficiary was Jan-Lennard Struff who has been given the final Seed and who can now look to improve his career best World Ranking from the Number 33 position he currently holds.

It has been a strong 2019 for Struff and he has continued the high level he is producing through the grass court portion over the last month. A Semi Final run in Stuttgart before a close loss to Karen Khachanov in Halle will have kept the Struff confidence at a strong level and he is facing an opponent he beat in the last Grand Slam at the French Open.

This is a different surface so it won't be the same kind of match for Struff when he takes on Radu Albot who has had some confident results on the grass courts. It is Jan-Lennard Struff who holds the 3-1 head to head between these players, but the matches have tended to be close so there should be a lot of respect between the players on the court.

You would think the Struff serve is going to be the difference maker in this match having held 93% of the service games he has played on the grass courts over the last month. Compared to that, Radu Albot has held serve in just under 80% of service games played and on the grass courts you would usually consider that difference to be key, even in the slower conditions some have experienced.

Both have had similar successes on the return of serve which suggests Struff has the overall edge in the match, although this is the first season in which the German has had consistent success on the return. Some of that may be down to the fact he can take chances against opponents knowing his own serve is going to be looking after itself and it will be that mentality which will give him a chance to win this match and cover the number.

Before last season Struff did not have a lot of success at Wimbledon, but he did make the Third Round and he will be thinking that is the minimum Round he should reach as a Seeded player. I think he can get the better of a decent grass courter in Albot and I think Struff will find the breaks of serve he needs to cover the handicap in this one too.

Denis Istomin-Cameron Norrie over 39.5 games: I don't believe either Denis Istomin or Cameron Norrie are going to have enough in the locker to get through to the second week of Wimbledon, but this is a First Round match both have to believe they can win. Neither player has had a lot of success on the surface over the last month, although Norrie has been playing at a superior level and so has every right to consider himself favourite to win the match.

The home support will be behind Cameron Norrie on Tuesday, but I am not sure he has the same profile as some of the other British players in the tournament. That does mean Norrie's match is on one of the outer courts rather than the showcase courts, but he can't worry about that and the best way to make a statement is by winning this match and continuing to move through the draw.

A lefty serve should always give Norrie a chance to bamboozle opponents and it has been a big weapon for him on the grass courts in the last twelve months. In 2019 he has actually shown an improvement with his numbers behind serve on this surface with a higher percentage of points being won compared with 2018 and that has also led to Norrie holding 85% of his service games played on grass courts.

The problem for Norrie has been finding effective returns on the surface, although he has been unfortunate with the three matches he has played on the grass in 2019. This time he is not facing a huge server like he has been, but Denis Istomin has managed to hold onto 80% of his service games despite losing all three grass court matches played in the last month.

Denis Istomin has previously had some good results on the grass, but he has dropped out of the top 100 of the World Rankings as his inconsistent form has dragged on for far too long. Like his opponent, Istomin has really struggled to be effective when it comes to the return of serve and this match has the feel of being one that could see at least four competitive sets being played out between them.

It would be a huge surprise to see multiple breaks of serve between them when you think of the issues that both Norrie and Istomin have had on the return. Both possess a decent serve so they will be confident they can run through their games, although I would not be happy to see either player go 2-0 up in sets as there is every chance the player that is behind will perhaps lose a bit of faith and fall away, but these two players could share out the first two sets and that should set the match on the way to surpassing the total games line.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal - 8.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lucas Pouille - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Joao Sousa - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini @ 2.25 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Jan-Lennard Struff - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Denis Istomin-Cameron Norrie Over 39.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 6.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Dominik Koepfer @ 2.05 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 8.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dennis Novak @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Qiang Wang - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Barbora Strycova - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Belinda Bencic - 4.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 9-5, + 6.26 Units (28 Units Staked, + 22.36% Yield)

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