Friday, 31 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 31st)

The Quarter Finals are next up on deck in the various tournaments that are being played this week as we have reached the business end of the events. Next week the next ATP 500 event is played in Washington and that will see the return of more big names, but first Rafael Nadal will want to end his week at the current ATP 500 event in Hamburg with a title to his name.

He hasn't been at his best so far this week with the serve being particularly vulnerable, but Nadal has battled through two tough matches to move into the Quarter Finals where he faces a tough challenge in the form of Pablo Cuevas.

They had a very closely contested match earlier this season and Cuevas is a solid clay court player, although you will see that I still think Nadal is capable of winning and moving into another clay court Semi Final.


Dominic Thiem - 3.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: These two players have gone 1-1 in their two previous meetings against one another as professionals, but Dominic Thiem is a much improved player these days and I expect him to get the better of Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Spaniard is obviously very comfortable on clay courts and has won Challenger titles on the surface, but Dominic Thiem has won titles on this surface at the main Tour level. While Carreno Busta will likely be a solid player on the Tour, Thiem has the talent to be a regular in the top ten as he can play effectively on clay and hard courts.

Winning the title in Umag was another confidence boost for the youngster and he backed up that win with an impressive performance against Federico Delbonis. Thiem has a solid serve, but is very effective off both wings when playing with confidence and that could be a key for him to overcome Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta has played well on the clay in lower level tournaments, but the surprise is that he hasn't been able to take that into the main Tour level as he has lost more matches than he has won despite winning two more this week. He beat Robin Haase in the Second Round, but the Dutchman missed his chances and I don't think Thiem is as generous as he wins 64, 64.


David Goffin - 3.5 games v Joao Sousa: I like to give credit to any player that is basically getting the best out of their own potential and Joao Sousa is definitely one of those. His game is solid, but Sousa doesn't have a lot of power and there isn't any one aspect of his game that really stands out.

Except one thing... He is mentally very strong to be able to go out on Tour and beat players that are arguably more talented and Sousa has to be given a lot of credit for that. Unfortunately I think he will always come up short against the very best players simply because they are less likely to mentally fall away in matches and David Goffin has been playing very well over the last twelve months.

The Belgian player is up to World Number 14 in the Rankings and he has had a couple of solid runs this season while showing his ability to play on any surface. I think the lack of power may prevent Goffin from winning multiple Grand Slams, but he may feast on some of the players below him during his career with his ability to get plenty of balls back in play and dominate longer rallies.

Goffin isn't just someone who plays defensively by using his movement to get balls back in play and wear players down. He has the quality to turn rallies into his favour and I think he can do that against Sousa despite how comfortable the latter is on the clay courts.

It could be a punishing match for both players, but I think Goffin will begin to wear Sousa down who had a much tougher Second Round match on Thursday. That may eventually lead to a 64, 64 win for Goffin and a place in the Semi Final.


Benoit Paire - 3.5 games v Lucas Pouille: Two Frenchmen meet in this Quarter Final and it is only the recent amount of tennis that Benoit Paire has played which is reducing my enthusiasm for him to see off Lucas Pouille. Paire has won the title in Bastad last week, but has also had to go three sets to win his two matches this week and I do wonder if that has sapped anything he had left in the tank.

If there is still something left for Paire, I would consider him a healthy favourite to win this match as Lucas Pouille has struggled on the clay on the main Tour before this week. Pouille has also suffered some losses to players far below those he has met so far this week and I think Paire can use his heavier game to wear him down and end the run.

As much tennis as Paire has had to play, Pouille has also come through the qualifiers as well as two matches in the main draw so his own physical well being has to be questioned.

Confidence can have a big impact on matches and you have to think Paire will have the edge in that department and can make that tell in the match. He looks to be getting back to something near his best over the last ten days and I don't think Paire will be ready for it to end here as he beats Pouille 75, 64 for me.


Rafael Nadal - 4.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: The serving of Rafael Nadal has been below par all week as he has been forced to dig deep to win those games, but his return game hasn't been out of sync. That has enabled the former undisputed 'King of Clay' a chance to work his way into games and come through to the Quarter Final, but Nadal needs to raise his game again as he gets set to face Pablo Cuevas.

It has been a strong season for Cuevas who reached a career-high Ranking earlier this year and he has had a couple of solid wins this week to back up his Semi Final run in Bastad last week. He will be used to having big weeks at this time of the season as Cuevas won back to back titles last season in Bastad and Umag, although facing Nadal is always a difficult challenge.

You can tell confidence is short in Nadal's game simply with the way he has struggled to protect his serve, but I think he is playing well enough to take the title here. He just needs to tighten up his game a little bit and Nadal should prove too good for a player that hasn't been playing that well this week.

Cuevas has come through two matches with a bit more difficulty than he would have expected and I think Nadal can find a way to break his game down. I do think Nadal will need to serve better, but even a little bit better than Thursday should be enough for a 64, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Goffin - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Benoit Paire - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 12-7, + 7.14 Units (38 Units Staked, + 18.79% Yield)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 30th)

There were limited markets out for the Second Round matches that have been scheduled for Thursday and so I had written out the picks, but was waiting to confirm I which ones I was going to have from the shortlist.

Hopefully the weather won't be affecting play as much as it has over the last couple of days, although it won't matter in Hamburg where the roof has been employed every day of the tournament up until now.

Gstaad hasn't been so lucky to have a roof, but there have been enough breaks in play to keep the tournament on schedule and the weather is expected to be improved going forward.


Dominic Thiem - 2.5 games v Federico Delbonis: Last week Dominic Thiem won his second title on the Tour as he continues making his move up the World Rankings as one of the new young guns. Thiem has a lot of talent, but my one concern has to be how he responds to winning the title in Umag as the last time he won in Nice, Thiem was tired for matches in the next week.

Of course Thiem had to play at the French Open after Nice which meant an increase in number of sets needed to win a match and he had a tough loss to Pablo Cuevas in the Second Round, a decent clay courter.

Thiem has been given until Thursday to begin his tournament in Gstaad which should be enough time to physically recover from the success in Umag, but this won't be an easy match against Federico Delbonis. The Argentine was unsurprisingly a little tired last week after his Davis Cup exploits just days before, but he was a comfortable winner in the First Round and should be in almost perfect condition for this one.

There have been times when I've seen Delbonis and believed he can really make an impact on the Tour, but his performances have been up and down to say the least. He has a decent serve and the lefty play can be awkward for opponents to deal with.

However, I think Thiem is the better player and is also very comfortable on the clay and I would fancy his chances to win this one 76, 64 if he is physically ready to compete.


David Goffin - 4.5 games v Horacio Zeballos: Last week was a rare early exit for David Goffin as he has moved up to World Number 14 after falling away a little following his initial breakthrough on the Tour.

He has the game for most surfaces and Goffin's hard working on the court has paid dividends as he has worn down opponents. Horacio Zeballos would be the first to tell you about the difficulty of playing Goffin who has won their last two matches and won three out of five sets by the same 61 set score.

You can't dismiss Zeballos because he has come through the qualifiers and beaten Andrey Rublev in the First Round so the conditions will be more familiar to him than Goffin who plays his first competitive match of the week. However, Goffin should have had plenty of practice time and the colder temperatures may also play in his favour as Zeballos finds it harder to hit through him.

They met recently at Wimbledon so Goffin should be ready to deal with the lefty serve that Zeballos will send at him and I think the Number 1 Seed wins this 64, 63.


Andreas Seppi - 3.5 games v Florian Mayer: This has always been a match up that Andreas Seppi has had the better of, but he should be in a better place facing Florian Mayer who is still trying to find his best on his return to the Tour following injury.

Mayer has always had a decent game, but the serve-volleys are hard to perform when you may have lost half a step and he has not been that comfortable from the back of the court. The serve has been a vulnerability through his career, but Andreas Seppi will also know about that and both players will have to work hard behind serve to protect it.

The difference may come from the match fitness that both have as Seppi has been playing at the higher level and Mayer has lost a fair few matches even down at the Challenger level. The home crowd should give Mayer all the support he would want, but this has been a tough match up for him as I have mentioned and it is a big ask to turn that around when not in the best form.

Seppi has lost some poor matches this season, but has been solid enough to think he can win this one 64, 64.


Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Jiri Vesely: It looked like being another difficult day out on the tennis court for Rafael Nadal as he dropped the first set against Fernando Verdasco and faced three break points at the beginning of the second. A twelve minute game followed, but Nadal eventually came out on top and that seemed to inspire him through the rest of the match as he ran away with twelve of the next fourteen games to move into the Second Round.

It wasn't as plain sailing as the 36, 61, 61 score may suggest it ended up being for Nadal as his serves continues to look vulnerable to those players who are willing to attack it. Jiri Vesely is unlikely to take a backwards step, but the Czech youngster is still trying to find the consistency that he will need to beat a player like Nadal, even though the latter is struggling for confidence.

Vesely is a big man, but he doesn't get the most out of his serve for someone his size and that is where Nadal can get a lot of success in this match. It won't be easy as this is Vesely's favourite surface and he has given the likes of Kei Nishikori some problems on the clay earlier in the year.

He also has a Challenger title to his name while Vesely has reached the Final in Bucharest on clay so he should have some success in this one. However, it can be mentally draining playing Nadal and I think the Spaniard will eventually break down the Vesely game and win this match 64, 62.



John Isner - 2.5 games v Radek Stepanek: It was a disappointing outing for John Isner at the tournament in Newport when he was beaten in his first match, but he is looking for a three-peat in Atlanta.

He has had some trouble with Radek Stepanek in the past having lost three of four matches against him, but John Isner should be in a better place to get a little closer on the head to head. Stepanek has been having a few problems since returning to the Tour and his serve is going to give Isner a couple of chances to break, even if the American is limited on his return.

The bigger question for Isner is going to be whether he can hold onto his own serve, which is usually a big weapon for him out on Tour. They did last meet in 2012, but Stepanek has broken the Isner serve at least once in every match and he will look to chip and charge off the serve to put pressure on the home hope.

However, I think Stepanek is having a few more issues trying to get back to his full fitness and Isner can win this match 76, 64 as long as he is able to fight through some of the difficult moments he will have on serve.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Goffin - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andreas Seppi - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
John Isner - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 9-5, + 5.50 Units (28 Units Staked, + 19.64% Yield)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 29th)

It was always going to be difficult to get the taste of last week out of the mouth, but I have moved on and looking to get this season back on track after a truly horrific week.

Shoots of revival sprouted on Tuesday and hopefully that will be a chance for this week to provide a decent return and cut some of those poor losses from last week. Signs came from the likes of Juan Monaco and Tommy Robredo coming as winners in matches they would most certainly have lost last week so that was a positive for me.


The Second Round matches begin in the tournaments on the Tour on Wednesday although the hope will be that some of the poor weather expected can be avoided for long enough to see those matches played.


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kateryna Bondarenko: I haven't paid much attention to the tournament in Baku so far this week because I simply haven't seen a match that fits into my criteria. The first match that may fall in is the Second Round match between the Number 1 Seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kateryna Bondarenko.

It was Bondarenko who came through the First Round match in more impressive form and that has backed up her successful run in Istanbul last week. Another strong run could see Bondarenko return to the top 100 in the World Rankings as she becomes accustomed to playing at the main Tour level again.

That form definitely gives her a chance to beat Pavlyuchenkova and I can understand why the layers are taking no chances with the Bondarenko price considering how the Russian has played through 2015. This looks certain to be Pavlyuchenkova's worst performance since 2008, but the hard courts remain her best surface and I think she is capable of winning this kind of match even in her current state.

A poor season is hard to ignore, but the win in the First Round might have shown Pavlyuchenkova that she still has enough character to win close matches. I also feel the last ten days has perhaps inflated the Pavlyuchenkova price as Bondarenko has been in decent form, but she has had suffered losses to players that aren't of the quality of the Russian and this might be a three set win for the Number 1 Seed.


Juan Monaco - 4.5 games v Lucas Pouille: It was another strange topsy-turvy performance from Juan Monaco in his First Round win over Ernests Gulbis but he did get through and should be too strong for Lucas Pouille in this Second Round match.

Pouille has done very well to come through the qualifiers and win his First Round match while the youngster has also reached the Semi Final of a Challenger event on the clay courts recently. Those results will have given him some real confidence heading into this match, but the quality of opposition has increased and I think Monaco will be able to wear him down.

The problem with a spread of games like this is Monaco's tendency to throw in a poor service game or two in each set, while he can sometimes settle into the long rallies on clay and look to grind down opponents. That might be an issue against someone like Pouille who will look to be aggressive, although Monaco's clay court ability should give him enough of an edge.

It was Monaco who won the match when the pair met at the French Open in 2014 and Pouille is also someone that can sometimes fall apart when trying to play the long game that you have to on the clay. That has led to some lopsided sets against him and Monaco can win this match 64, 63.


Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: It might not have been the season he would have wanted, especially on the clay courts, but Fabio Fognini had a strong win over Jeremy Chardy in the First Round. He will hope to have a much better performance when it comes to serving than he offered in the last two sets of that win, but Fognini will know what he needs to do in this match to get the win.

That might produce a better performance when it comes to serving as Fognini looks back at his 6-0 head to head record against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Fognini can't overlook what the Spaniard can bring to the table after an impressive win over Nicolas Almagro, but Fognini has much better movement than Almagro and will make Ramos-Vinolas play many more shots.

Fognini was returning well in his match with Chardy and the Italian is going to get plenty of balls back in play to slowly wear down Ramos-Vinolas. The latter has only won two of the fourteen sets played between them and Fognini has won three matches in a row against Ramos-Vinolas without dropping a set.

If Ramos-Vinolas is serving as well as he was against Almagro then he will cause some problems for Fognini, but the latter is the better clay court player and I expect him to show that in a 63, 75 win.


Santiago Giraldo - 4.5 games v Marsel Ilhan: These two players dropped just eight games between them in their First Round wins, but it would be a surprise to me if Santiago Giraldo is not able to beat Marsel Ilhan in this Second Round match.

While Ilhan has put together some decent wins, his defeats have to be worrying in the manner he has fallen away in matches. Just looking through some of his recent defeats and you can see plenty of 60, 61 or 62 scorelines and the loss to Ernests Gulbis last week while winning just two games is nothing short of embarrassing for Ilhan when considering how Gulbis has been playing.

Now he faces an opponent who is very comfortable on the clay courts and Giraldo had an impressive win in the First Round which will give him confidence. I do think Ilhan has shown he can be a problem to deal with when he serves well, but Giraldo has the power to keep him on the back foot and should be a little too experienced.

Ilhan is never too far from a heavy defeat, but this one might be a little more respectful on the scoreboard as I expect Giraldo to win this 63, 64.


Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 games v Stephane Robert: It was a disappointing Quarter Final defeat for Thomaz Bellucci in Bastad last week, but he has to look at the positives on his wins at that tournament. The matches under his belt should also help in Gstaad where Bellucci is one of the favourites to win the title, especially as Stan Wawrinka withdrew before the tournament began.

The Brazilian was an easy winner in the First Round and his clay court pedigree should give him a huge edge over the veteran Stephane Robert. It is something of a surprise that Robert has returned to the Tour off an injury that took away the last five months of the 2014 season, but he has shown some signs of producing some good tennis.

However, it has to be admitted that the clay courts are not usually the favourite for Robert and he should be put under pressure by Bellucci who has some power behind his groundstrokes. The backhand can be a weakness, but Bellucci can dictate behind his forehand as long as he is serving well.

I have seen Robert give some decent players more problems than his game should really produce so Bellucci would be wise not to underestimate him. However, I think the Brazilian ends up on the right side of a 63, 64 win in this one as he better performances on the clay courts pays dividends.


Adrian Mannarino - 3.5 games v Go Soeda: It was a very good week for Adrian Mannarino in Bogota last week, but he might have been a little disappointed he didn't complete it with a title. The fact he was Seeded in Atlanta means Mannarino has had a bit more time to get ready for this match, although he can't underestimate Go Soeda who had an impressive come from behind win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the First Round.

It was a surprising loss for Dolgopolov who had been the better player in the first two sets and I think Mannarino will give Soeda more trouble simply because of his consistency. The serve of neither player will be worrying the other, but Mannarino's is a lefty serve which can be a difference maker in tight matches.

The win in the First Round was a rare occurrence for Soeda on the main Tour and he has hardly been pulling up trees in the Challenger matches he has played either. Soeda did reach the Semi Final in his sole appearance in Atlanta back in 2012, but these two players have gone in different directions in those years since.

That was also the year that Soeda and Mannarino met for the sole time on Tour as the Frenchman won in three sets. However, I think Mannarino has a slightly easier time this time around barring any fatigue that has set in from his very strong run in Bogota. If the extra day has given Mannarino time to recover physically and mentally, I would imagine this is the kind of match he wins 64, 64.

MY PICKS: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Santiago Giraldo - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Thomaz Bellucci - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-3, + 4.38 Units (18 Units Staked, + 24.33% Yield)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 28th)

There wasn't a lot of tennis being played at the various tournaments in the main draws on Monday, but that only means a full schedule is set for the Tuesday as the First Round matches are completed.

Hamburg has the roof which means they will definitely have tennis played all through the day, but there is plenty of rain around the other events and it could be either a delayed day or one where the schedule is moved around to accommodate all of the matches and keep the tournaments on track.


Aljaz Bedene - 2.5 games v Daniel Gimeno-Traver: The British Number 2 has only recently began to represent Great Britain, but it has sparked Aljaz Bedene to a career high Ranking.

He hasn't quite been able to bring his form onto the main Tour, but Bedene has won a couple of Challenger events on the clay and will feel he can get the better of Daniel Gimeno-Traver. As suited as the Spaniard is to the clay courts, Gimeno-Traver is on a six game losing run on the Singles Tour since the French Open and that will have reduced his confidence.

Gimeno-Traver did have some success earlier this season on the clay courts, but recent weeks have been much more of a struggle and losses to Salvatore Caruso and Steve Darcis are disappointing to say the least.

It won't be an easy match for Aljaz Bedene despite his improved results compared with Gimeno-Traver, especially as he is yet to really produce at this level. His opponent has reached a Final of a main Tour event on the clay courts this season and there should be some long rallies between the players, but I think the confidence Bedene has makes the difference and helps him move through and cover.


Juan Monaco - 2.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: Juan Monaco was a disappointing early loser in Bastad last week on his return to the Tour for the first time since Wimbledon, but Ernests Gulbis has had a disappointing 2015 in general. There have been little signs that the Latvian is about to turn a corner and this is a difficult match to try and turn things around considering Monaco has won 4 of 6 matches between the players.

As poor as Monaco played last week, this has actually be something of a revival season for him and he is on course for his best record in recent years. The clay courts remain his most productive surface despite the early loss last week and his confidence will still be in a much stronger place than Gulbis'.

Gulbis had won 73 matches in 2013 and 2014, but he looks set for his lowest match wins on the main Tour since 2007 which came very early in his career. He has failed to win back to back matches throughout 2015 and he has been beaten on the clay courts by players much less comfortable on this surface than Monaco.

My biggest concern for this pick is the sometimes erratic play that both players can produce which could blow this one up for me. However, I think Monaco is the better player at this moment on his favourite surface and can wear down Gulbis as long as he isn't as generous with his mistakes as he was in Bastad.


Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: There is no doubt that Fabio Fognini is one of the hardest players to really know what he is going to give you on any given day. One day he can be so good that he would give almost any player on the Tour trouble, but on another Fognini will look disinterested and barely put in a concerted effort to win matches.

It does surprise me that he has got the better of Jeremy Chardy in all four previous matches including three times on the clay although the first two of those were almost a decade ago and perhaps irrelevant now.

Fognini might be a little disappointed he only reached the Quarter Final last week in Umag after this portion of the season proved to be so effective for him in 2013. The Italian has reached a Final on the clay earlier this season, but his most impressive results have come on the Doubles Tour and Fognini will be looking to have a big week in Hamburg.

He is playing Jeremy Chardy who reached the Fourth Round at the French Open, but has lost four Singles matches in a row heading into this match. The run at the French Open has been a rare success for Chardy who looks like he will have his worst record on the Tour over the last four seasons.

I like the talent Chardy possesses, but he is very inconsistent and this season the results haven't been there. It should be in Fognini's ability to win this match and I will back him to cover the games too.


Fernando Verdasco + 4.5 games v Rafael Nadal: I am hoping this is going to be a big week for Rafael Nadal because I would love to see him get back competing for the top prizes in tennis. He took a Wild Card into Hamburg which was the right move as far as I was concerned, but he would have absolutely have liked to have an easier First Round match than against Fernando Verdasco.

This was usually a match that up that Nadal loved as he won the first fourteen matches in a row, but it is Fernando Verdasco who has won the last two including earlier this season. Even Nadal's huge success on the clay should not intimidate Verdasco as the other win he has had over his compatriot came on the clay courts of Madrid.

I will point out that the conditions in both Madrid and Miami would give Verdasco a chance, but I also think Nadal is perhaps not as quick around the court as he used to be and so Verdasco's big shots have more penetration. Nadal's serve has been more vulnerable than he would have liked this season and Verdasco has the big game to really push the Number 1 Seed in this one.

I do think Nadal is still trying to build confidence and that should give Verdasco a chance to get close to a third straight win over Nadal. Recent matches between the two players have been very competitive and backing Verdasco with the games at odds against looks a big price.


Tommy Robredo - 3.5 games v Alexander Zverev: Tommy Robredo got the better of Alexander Zverev in Bastad last week in the Semi Final and it will be interesting if the youngster has learned much from the experience. He will have the home crowd firmly behind him in this First Round match, but I think Robredo has the edge with the surface to his liking and I believe he wears down the German for the second time in less than a week.

There is plenty of talent that Zverev possesses, but any young player on the Tour experiences some ups and downs and he hasn't had the best results on the clay. However, Zverev did reach the Semi Final in Hamburg last season and the conditions here are clearly some he should appreciate.

He will also look to take advantage of any disappointment that Robredo may have after failing to win the title in Bastad on Sunday. An early loss for Robredo will mean that he is likely to have his lowest number of wins on the clay courts since his injury affected season in 2012.

Robredo can be vulnerable at times if a player gets hot and begins to hit through him, but he will look to use all of his veteran experience to keep Zverev at bay. The Spaniard will be happy with the longer rallies that tend to come out on the clay courts and he'll be looking to protect serve as he did when these players met in the Semi Final last week. If he can do that, Robredo can win this match 75, 64 and move into the Second Round.


Santiago Giraldo - 3.5 games v Paolo Lorenzi: This has not been the season that Santiago Giraldo may have wanted mainly because of his lack of consistency on the clay courts. That is compared to the 18 wins he had last season as Giraldo is yet to reach double digit wins on the surface in 2015.

Giraldo has had some disappointing defeats on clay this season, but the Colombian is still likely to be too strong for Paolo Lorenzi as the Italian has really had a hard time on the main Tour. Lorenzi plays a lot of his tournaments on the clay courts and that includes Challenger events but he has had only 13 total wins on the clay this season compared with the 38 he had last year in main Tour and Challenger events combined.

The expectation has to be that Giraldo will have a little more power than Lorenzi and I think he has the more consistent serve which should set him up in points a little better. Those small things can make all the differences in matches and might be enough to ensure Giraldo earns a break more in each set to win this match.

I doubt Giraldo makes anything straight-forward though on current form, but I am still expecting him to win this one 75, 64.


Lukas Lacko + 4.5 games v Steve Johnson: When these players met at Wimbledon last month, Steve Johnson was expected to dismiss Lukas Lacko easily but found himself 2-1 down in sets. He rallied to win in five sets which will give the American the edge back on the courts he would be familiar with in North America, but not enough for him to be giving up this many games as far as I am concerned.

Lacko has plenty of strong shots in his arsenal, but nothing spectacular and that makes him a very inconsistent player. I am sure there is more about him that should see him far higher than outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings, but he is inconsistent and is just as likely to win a match as he is to lose to that same opponent 61, 61.

It is a bit of a risk backing someone who has that kind of performance in him, but Steve Johnson is another who is never too far away from throwing in a real dud of a performance. That can be highlighted by his defeats over the last six weeks to the likes of Florian Mayer, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Tatsuma Ito, all when Johnson was going in as the favourite.

The American has only had two previous visits to Atlanta and was beaten in the Second Round after coming through against Donald Young in three sets the first time before a First Round loss to Sam Querrey last year. This has been a tournament that Lacko has enjoyed in contrast to Johnson as he does have two Quarter Final appearances in three visits to Atlanta and the feeling is that he keeps this close even if he eventually is beaten.

MY PICKS: Aljaz Bedene - 2.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juan Monaco - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco + 4.5 Games @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Robredo - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Santiago Giraldo - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Lukas Lacko + 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-1, - 0.34 Units (4 Units Staked, - 8.5% Yield)

Monday, 27 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 27th)

Last week has to be the worst one I have experienced for a long time, easily the worst of the 2015 season, and it shouldn't surprise that I decided to call it on Thursday after the third day in a row where I felt I was not getting the breaks I wanted.

I've said enough about that in my last post so I just want to put a line through the week and move on.


There are another large amount of tournaments this week including the ATP 500 event in Hamburg which has attracted Rafael Nadal to take a Wild Card spot. I mentioned in the immediate aftermath of his exit at Wimbledon that he would be wise to try and build some confidence during the summer clay court events so am glad to see Nadal has taken a spot in Hamburg, but the First Round draw with Fernando Verdasco is far from an easy match for him.

Events in Gstaad, Atlanta, Baku and Florianopolis are also being played this week as I look for a bounce back from the shocking turn of last week.


Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 games v Albert Ramos-Vinolas: The final match in Hamburg on Monday is the First Round match between Nicolas Almagro and Albert Ramos-Vinolas and I think Almagro gets the better of his compatriot.

He rode his luck to a win over Fernando Verdasco last week before a disappointing 63, 63 loss to Denis Istomin, but Almagro has the power and comfort on the clay courts to take advantage of this match up. Nicolas Almagro has to serve well to keep the pressure on Albert Ramos-Vinolas who he beat earlier this season on clay in straight sets to make it four in a row against him.

I don't want to under-estimate Ramos-Vinolas who has won a Challenger on clay recently and reached the Quarter Final in Bastad last week before finding Tommy Robredo too good.

The lefty serve gives Ramos-Vinolas a chance to work his way through some service games without too much pressure, but Almagro has a backhand that is capable of negating this forehand and that should give him the edge in the rallies. It is also part of the reason the match up has been so good for Almagro along with the additional power and the better serve that he has over Ramos-Vinolas.


Gilles Muller - 1.5 games v Donald Young: Gilles Muller is coming off a decent grass court season, but he might have expected a better run at Wimbledon than a First Round defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This time last season Muller was playing in Challenger events on the hard courts prior to the US Open, but he has the form to get into the main draw in Atlanta and will be looking for a better run in North America than his early losses at Indian Wells and Miami.

However, Muller did reach the Final of a Challenger event in Texas and will feel he has the serve to trouble Donald Young who was embarrassed in Atlanta last year.

Young won just three games in his defeat to Dudi Sela last year and has regularly struggled at this event where he has suffered three consecutive First Round matches and failed to qualify in his last four appearances here. In fact, Young is just 1-4 in the main draw in Atlanta and Muller has the kind of game to give Young plenty of troubles.

That game isn't perfectly suited to the hard courts where the ball doesn't skid as low as on the grass, but Muller can become the latest to get the better of Young on these courts. It might need three sets, but I expect Muller to be the player that comes out on top.

MY PICKS: Nicolas Almagro - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gilles Muller - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Weekly Final2-14, - 24.44 Units (32 Units Staked, - 76.38% Yield)

Season 2015+ 10.81 Units (1178 Units Staked, + 1% Yield)

Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 24th)

What... A... Week(!)

I am completely done with this week and it is one that I don't want to go through again where it felt like I had literally picked matches that had players going out of their way to irritate me. I am not one of these people that think tennis players are machines so I obviously won't be venting my disgust to any of the players personally because I am not an idiot and have learned to take the rough with the smooth.

Unfortunately it has been incredibly rough this week as I have had virtually no fortune at all which has been highlighted by some of the ways the picks have fallen through and I think it is better to call it a day for the week.

Looking back at some of the results this week, I really wish I had Biff's Sports Almanac from Back to the Future because that is the only way I would believe what I was seeing. Players constantly getting into a position to win matches and somehow throwing them away and all the statistics pointing to the picks being correct, but simply not falling my way.


Making picks while completely 'pissed off', pardon my French, is simply not smart and I haven't lost faith that matches I picked were wrong considering how strong the season had been.

Don't be foolish in thinking that I don't appreciate there have been some bad picks too... The picks on Lukas Rosol and Federico Delbonis had alarm bells attached prior to being made and I should have paid more attention those.

But let me break down some of the other results and I think it will be clear that there has been almost nothing going my way.


It all began on Monday as the first pick of the week fell through the crack- I had backed Fernando Verdasco who somehow lost the first set despite having at least one break point in all but one Nicolas Almagro service game. He then won the second set easily enough and was serving to get into a final set tie-break only to then hand Almagro a break and winning the match.

Almagro only had break points in four games but broke three times, while Verdasco had break points in double the games and broke just three times himself. If that match went into a tie-breaker, Verdasco would have covered and thus set the tone for the rest of the week.

Later that day Matthew Ebden won the first set in his match 61, but then fell apart to lose and fail to cover a small number of games himself.


Moving on to Wednesday, Andrey Rublev became the third player I had picked this week that would have brought in a winner if he had won a final set in his match, but was beaten.

That had come after Thomaz Bellucci won more than half of the points on his opponent's serve but failed to covert a 0-40 situation and was broken in both the games he gave up break points in the match to miss the cover by a single game. On another day he wins 62, 62 but another day won't work for me this week.


So Thursday couldn't have that kind of misfortune could it? Well Julia Goerges became the latest player to lose a final set after dominating her match in the first two sets and failing to get the job done when she should have.

Alize Cornet won the first set of her match 62, but fell apart like so many others in another final set defeat and Martin Klizan was a set up in both sets but was still beaten in straight sets.

Jerzy Janowicz might have lost easily on paper, but he had had break points in every one of Steve Darcis' first three service games and couldn't convert which quickly saw him fall apart by the end of the match.


There are at least six matches there that could have easily gone my way with even a slight bounce of the ball falling for the players I had picked at the big moments. That might have actually made this a winning week rather than an embarrassing one that has crushed the season stats in three days.

The picks are still up, but it has been a devastating blow and I would much rather make a few tweaks and leave the tennis until the next set of tournaments. This is simply an ugly week where nothing is going to go right and I don't want any more part of it truth be told!

Some times it is better to say the battle is lost but try and win the war and that is what a long season on the tennis Tour is. You have some bad weeks, but trying to avoid these horrific weeks can be difficult when it really rolls on you.

I would have much rather have seen the picks get nowhere near winning at times because then you can make adjustments as to how they have been made- however, it is much more difficult to be critical of the methods to making picks when they have been as close as those have that I described above where the matches went almost exactly as anticipated except for the players putting the period on the sentence. 


So that will be it for the week as I will update the season statistics when making my next set of picks as the new tournaments begin on Monday. I feel disappointed for the readers this week who might have followed and had a rough week of their own, but I think the chance to refresh and start again on Monday is the best policy when the week has been as 'cursed' as this one has.

Hopefully a few days off will just reset whatever has gone wrong this week and next week is a much stronger return.

Tennis Picks 2015 (July 23rd)

This has been a really terrible week for the picks as I have mixed the plain bad with the plain bad luck and that has led to a very poor couple of days.

It was more of the same on Wednesday as it seemed all the close games are going against me at the moment- I won't know how Thomaz Bellucci didn't cover against Christian Lindell after winning MORE points on the Swede's serve than Lindell did. Andrey Rublev lost a tight first set which eventually cost him the match in three sets, although the bigger game might have been the 0-40 he had on the Blaz Kavcic serve to get back on serve in that final set as the Russian lost five points in a row.

If I wanted proof that it hasn't been my week, I think it came in the Alexander Zverev match against Juan Monaco. While the final result was a comfortable win for Zverev, I remember looking at the match after nine games and noticing both players had won the exact same number of points.

What proof did I have that I am not getting the breaks? The fact that the player I had backed was still a break down after nine games despite having won the same number of points.


The bad picks are on me, but when you're getting next to no luck at the same time, it is never going to end well. I am not going to go chasing down the rabbit hole though for lost opportunities, but will only make picks that satisfy my criteria and look for the luck to swing back my way. Thursday is another full day of matches as the tournaments set up their Quarter Finals for Friday and I do hope things are going to land my way for the first time this week.


Jerzy Janowicz - 1.5 games v Steve Darcis: Both Jerzy Janowicz and Steve Darcis have been in Davis Cup action last weekend and both secured big wins for their nations. Neither player had too much trouble in the First Round in Bastad either and this could be another tight match between the players.

It is the third time that Darcis and Janowicz will meet on the main Tour although both of the previous matches took place in 2012. It is the big Pole who has won both previous matches, but their sole meeting on clay needed three sets to separate them and I think this is going to be a tight match too.

As big as Janowicz can play, he can be a little weak mentally when it comes to picking the right shots at the right time and that will give someone like Darcis a chance in this match. The Belgian player gets a decent pop out of the serve despite not being the biggest player on the Tour and he will be able to frustrate Janowicz by making him play more shots than perhaps he is going to be used to.

I won't lie though, I didn't think Darcis was as high as Number 67 in the World Rankings these days as he is a little inconsistent. Neither player has pulled up any trees on the clay courts can get a few cheaper points off the serve which can help him win this match 63, 36, 64.


Martin Klizan - 3.5 games v Andreas Haider-Maurer: Andreas Haider-Maurer made an effective return to the Tour after pulling out in his First Round match at Wimbledon and being back on the clay courts will suit the Austrian. He has played well on the clay courts this season and his win in the First Round means Haider-Maurer has won more main Tour matches this year than in his last four years combined.

The majority of his success on the surface came earlier in the year and Haider-Maurer is just 3-5 in his last eight matches on the clay. That includes beating Robin Haase in Davis Cup action last weekend and it is the kind of win that will give Haider-Maurer confidence to take into the tournament in Umag.

Martin Klizan won two rubbers last year in Davis Cup action himself as he helped Slovakia beat Romania and this is the surface on which he enjoys the majority of his success. Klizan has won a title on clay and reached the Semi Final of the big event in Barcelona too so returning to the surface off the grass probably suits him down to the ground.

You wouldn't be wrong in saying that both of these players are highly erratic in their play and you're not always sure what you're going to get. However, I think Klizan is the better clay court player and has won their sole previous match also on clay. After some twists and turns, I expect Klizan to come through 76, 63 in this one.


Borna Coric - 2.5 games v Aljaz Bedene: There might be some more well known Croatian players currently on the Tour, but the home fans have to rally around Borna Coric this week as the sole representative in the draw. No one should look down on Coric as the youngster looks like one destined for the top of the men's game once he has finished growing into his body, but the talent is undeniable.

Any young player on the long grind of the Tour are going to have ups and downs, but Coric has shown his potential with big wins over the likes of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray over the last twelve months. Coric has a deep belief in his game, without going over the edge and irritating people, and I think he can get the better of this match up with Aljaz Bedene.

Bedene has been playing very well on the Challenger Tour with titles on the clay including in a Todi Challenger a couple of weeks ago. He should be highly confident he can get the job done on this surface and beat a Croatian in the First Round so Bedene shouldn't be intimidated by the atmosphere on the court.

However, Coric is the superior player and he has a Quarter Final and Semi Final appearance in clay courts at the main level this season. The Croatian also reached the Quarter Final here last year behind two impressive wins and I think Coric works his way through to a 75, 64 win.


Mona Barthel - 2.5 games v Kateryna Bondarenko: It has been a long time since Kateryna Bondarenko was a regular name in main Tour draws and it is no surprise that her Ranking has fallen outside of the top 100. For events like the one in Istanbul, Bondarenko has to qualify, but she has had arguably her best win for a long time by beating Venus Williams in the First Round.

Following up that win is going to be very difficult for Bondarenko through the emotions of having such a big win behind her, while she also has to deal with Mona Barthel who has turned a corner in terms of form. Barthel reached the Final in Bastad last week and came through her First Round match very easily this week too.

Barthel had lost 9 matches in a row since retiring half way through a match in Charleston, but the wins in Bastad will have restored some confidence. That has shown up by winning another match this week and the German beat Bondarenko when they last met three years ago.

It had looked like Barthel was going to get nowhere near the 23 wins she had on Tour last year, but turning a corner on form might have come at the right time. I expect Barthel to be a little too solid for Bondarenko who can't surely replicate the form she showed against Venus Williams. This should be a battle that Barthel can come through with a 64, 75 win.


Alize Cornet - 3.5 games v Kirsten Flipkens: There were no slip ups for Alize Cornet and Kirsten Flipkens in the First Round as they both came through in straight sets to meet in the Second Round. Alize Cornet has won four of their previous six matches including a three set win in Dubai earlier this season and I expect the Frenchwoman to be a little too good for Flipkens again.

It has been a couple of years since Flipkens had her career year on the Tour which included a run to the Semi Final at Wimbledon, but she has fallen down the Rankings since then. In fact you could add the wins from the last eighteen months together and you still wouldn't reach the total she had in 2013 alone and Flipkens has just struggled for consistency through this season.

The serve was always something of a liability, but I am not entirely convinced the movement hasn't deteriorated too, even by a slight amount. That means Flipkens is having a harder time closing the net and I think someone like Cornet can outlast her in the rallies that are likely to develop in this one.

Backing Cornet can be a rollercoaster as she never seems far away from losing focus and having a meltdown on the court. However, she has won four straight matches against Flipkens and the match up looks a good one for her, one I expect Cornet to win 64, 64.


Julia Goerges v Daria Kasatkina: These players met last week and I backed Julia Goerges to beat Daria Kasatkina despite the pedigree the latter has as a former French Open Junior Champion. There are other similarities to what I wrote last week as Kasatkina has once again come through her matches in very impressive fashion this week to build confidence.

Goerges was also a fairly comfortable winner in the First Round and I am still not convinced Kasatkina will be able to deal with the German's power if she is on her game. Perhaps the layers feel the match last week will have given Kasatkina an advantage now she knows what she is dealing with, but the match last week was much more in Goerges' favour than the final scoreline suggested.

It took Goerges some time to work out what she was seeing from Kasatkina, but the power was a clear advantage as her groundstrokes were the more penetrating. Kasatkina struggled to get into the Goerges service games after the early break of serve and I think the latter is going to frank her form from Bucharest.

The wind has been present in Bad Gastein which is going to affect the high risk tennis that Goerges plays, but I think she has to be the play at odds against to win this Second Round match.


Johanna Larsson v Karin Knapp: This is another match that is almost set as a pick 'em in the Second Round in Bad Gastein and I think Johanna Larsson can be backed to continue her hot form. She has lost her two previous matches against Karin Knapp including a heavy defeat on clay, but the Italian had to battle through a very difficult First Round match having just returned from an injury that forced her withdrawal at Wimbledon.

Larsson is the form player having won the title in Bastad last week and following that up with an impressive First Round win for the loss of just four games. Injury meant her European clay court season was restricted to the French Open, but the Swede reached the Semi Final in another clay court event earlier this season and clearly is very confident at the moment.

She isn't the only player in this match that has won a title on clay this season as Knapp did the same in Nuremberg prior to the French Open. However, that is a stand out tournament for the Italian who also reached the Semi Final there last year and Knapp is just 4-8 in clay court matches outside of that tournament over the last two seasons.

The head to head has to be a concern for Larsson who might struggle with the power Knapp can provide from the back of the court. Knapp also has a decent serve, but lack of matches of late might give Larsson the edge on current form and I will back her to move into another Quarter Final on clay this season.

MY PICKS: Jerzy Janowicz - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Martin Klizan - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Borna Coric - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Mona Barthel - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alize Cornet - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Julia Goerges @ 2.05 Betway (2 Units)
Johanna Larsson @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 1-8, - 14.26 Units (18 Units Staked, - 79.22% Yield)
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