Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 8 Picks 2015 (July 7th)

I was extremely tired from a day at the tennis on Monday which means a shortened post for the picks from the Ladies Quarter Finals which are to be played on Tuesday.


Garbine Muguruza - 1.5 games v Timea Bacsinszky: This looks to be the closest of the four Quarter Finals that are going to be played today, at least according to the layers, as both Garbine Muguruza and Timea Bacsinszky try to progress to another Grand Slam Semi Final. Both have done that at the French Open over the last fourteen months, while they also played a three set match at the Australian Open earlier this season which was won by the Spaniard.

There isn't much to split them in terms of form over the Wimbledon event and I think you can make a real argument for both Muguruza and Bacsinszky moving through to the Semi Final. I think Muguruza definitely has the edge when it comes to the first serve and earning some cheaper points, but Bacsinszky is the more consistent player and will be unlikely to make the number of unforced errors that Muguruza will.

I am a big fan of the potential that Muguruza has, while also have a lot of respect for the way Bacsinszky has approached things since returning to the Tour. There are times when I can be critical of the Muguruza volleying considering the success she has had on the Doubles Tour, but I do think her power will make the difference on the fast playing courts thanks to the warm weather in SW19.

It is a cooler day on Tuesday with rain expected to cause some disruption for the ladies out on Court One, but I think this match will come down to the racquet of Muguruza. I am expecting her to start moving up the World Rankings and think she comes through in a tight 63, 36, 64 Quarter Final.


Serena Williams - 4.5 games v Victoria Azarenka: Considering 5 of their last 7 matches have gone to three sets, including at the French Open last month, and Serena Williams has only covered this number of games twice in those 7 matches too, it might be a surprise I am picking her to come through fairly comfortably in this Quarter Final.

Victoria Azarenka has quietly gone about her business this week as she has moved through the draw without dropping and set and losing no more than 8 games in any of her matches. However, it has to be said that the level of competition she will face has gone up a couple of levels after watching Serena Williams comfortably handle everything Venus Williams threw at her on Monday.

The scare to Heather Watson might just have refocused Serena Williams at the right time and this is potentially a match played under the roof if the rain remains in SW19. That will only increase the power of the serve and the grass is clearly Azarenka's weakest surface as Serena Williams has beaten her twice very easily in their three previous meetings at Wimbledon.

The heavier hitting from the Williams side of the court should make a big difference on the grass as the ball skids through and I am not sure Azarenka will be able to hold serve without being put under pressure. Serena Williams was almost perfect with her return of serve against a heavier ball that Venus Williams sent at her on Monday and I think she will give Azarenka too many issues if serving well too.

Matches have been close between these players in recent meetings, but this might be the most straight-forward win for Williams in a while as I expect her to come through 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Garbine Muguruza - 1.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 18-21, - 7.73 Units (77 Units Staked, - 10.04% Yield)

Monday, 6 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 7 Picks 2015 (July 6th)

Middle Sunday of Wimbledon is the only day of the Grand Slam season when the schedule is deliberately left empty by the organisers and preparation has been for 'Manic Monday'. A full day when every Fourth Round match is played is always great for the fans and I will be fortunate to be sitting on Centre Court through the day.


The first week of Wimbledon has been very intriguing with some big upsets, especially in the women's draw. The defending Champion, Petra Kvitova, was beaten in the Third Round on Saturday having seemingly been in complete control of that match with a set and a two points from a double break in the second set in her hand before Jelena Jankovic turned things around.

Kvitova had looked like the dominating Champion that I, and many others, had expected to see in the first week, but that loss will have hurt as she looks to make an impact in the final Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. It has seemed to open the door for Serena Williams to win the tournament, especially as the American came through her customary scare early in a Grand Slam with a close win over Heather Watson in her own Third Round match at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams had to dig deep to remain in with a chance to win the 'Calendar Grand Slam' and a second 'Serena Slam', but her Fourth Round match against elder sister Venus Williams looks like another big test of her character. Serena will be a big favourite to win the title over the second week, but there have been signs of vulnerabilities at the French Open and in the Third Round here so there are players who will feel they can take advantage.

However, only four of the top ten in the World Rankings remain alive in the women's draw and it would be a big surprise if Serena Williams wasn't lifting her third Grand Slam of the season in the next few days.


A lot of the headlines this week in the men's draw was created by Rafael Nadal's shock exit at the hands of Dustin Brown in the Second Round, his second defeat to Brown on the grass courts. Some have basically ruled a line through Nadal ever really being a threat at Grand Slam level again, while the Spaniard himself suggested he won't ever be the same player at Wimbledon again.

Personally I think Nadal will find his way back to form, especially when it comes to the clay courts next season, but he has to find the confidence in the forehand which has been dropping far too short. I also don't think the suggestion he find a new voice in his camp a bad one- bringing in someone to complement Toni Nadal and give him a new direction might be the best way to help Nadal turn around what has been a disappointing six months for the standards he has set.

I do wonder if the knees will ever be the same for Nadal, but that doesn't account for the poor length he has been getting in rallies and I think a short break before the hard court season will help, although any real recovery won't be seen until next season.


Other than Nadal, the main names we all expected to reach the Fourth Round are still involved in the men's draw and Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have looked particularly strong. Both have been impressive, but are expecting much bigger tests going forward, while Andy Murray's shoulder issue might be a concern for his supporters.

Murray has said he is not overly concerned about the shoulder, while he also dismissed suggestion it was a 'mind game' attempt with Andreas Seppi in the Third Round win over Saturday, and he has seen his section of the draw open up thanks to both Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer out of this portion of the draw.


I have had a pretty poor opening week of this Grand Slam, one that is regularly my worse one of the year, but the outright picks are mainly intact. I have one unit picks knocked out in Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova and Grigor Dimitrov exiting as well as Petra Kvitova which was a two unit pick, but Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray provided multiple unit picks who remain in contention going into the second week.

Hopefully that second week will be more productive for the daily picks too and produce a strong end to the tournament for the picks.


Marin Cilic - 5.5 games v Denis Kudla: It has already been a tough tournament for Marin Cilic who had to play twenty-two games in the final set against John Isner which was completed on Saturday. He should have had enough time to recover in time for this Fourth Round match as Cilic looks to get back into the Quarter Final.

The Fourth Round match up against Denis Kudla looks a good one for him and I do think Cilic can take advantage against the American who has been in fine form this grass court season. He won the Wild Card into Wimbledon, reached a Final and won a Challenger on the grass in preparation for this tournament and Kudla has done really well to come through three Rounds.

Kudla had to win two five set matches this week and also a four setter so any physical issues that Cilic may have could be off-set. His return has looked a little better and I expect him to get some joy from attacking Kudla whose game simply isn't as big as Cilic when the Croatian gets things right.

It hasn't been plain sailing by any means for Cilic in the last two Rounds when he has been pushed harder than he might have expected. As awkward as John Isner is, Ricardas Berankis was a much more difficult match for Cilic than he would have expected, so he has to remain focused in this one. If Cilic can just keep it together on serve, I expect he wins this 76, 63, 64.


Tomas Berdych - 3.5 games v Gilles Simon: One of the stranger head to head records on the Tour has to be Gilles Simon holding a 6-4 advantage over Tomas Berdych, although they have split their last four meetings. The only one in the 2015 season saw Berdych come through for the loss of three games against Simon on an indoor court in Rotterdam, but I still think he can back that up to make it two in a row against the Frenchman.

However, Berdych will do well to acknowledge how well Simon has been playing during the grass court season and an impressive battling win over Gael Monfils can't be ignored. That finished late on Saturday, but Simon has had enough time to recover and perhaps show he should be helping lead the line for France in their Davis Cup tie against Great Britain on the grass in just under two weeks time.

Simon will have to find a way to make Berdych feel the pressure with his defensive superiority, although it has to be said that Berdych has looked comfortable in the draw so far. He has played some sloppy games to perhaps keep opponents in matches, but Berdych has been serving well for the most part and that can set him up in this match.

You can always get a chance on the Simon serve which remains a big weakness especially on the faster surfaces where one break can prove to be enough to win a set. Berdych could easily drop a set in this one as he did against Jeremy Chardy and Pablo Andujar, but I think the big man has enough to recover with a 63, 36, 64, 63 win.


Ivo Karlovic-Andy Murray Over 3.5 sets: There really isn't a lot to say about this Fourth Round match as Andy Murray looks to continue his charge for a second Wimbledon title against the dangerous Ivo Karlovic. Andy Murray did have a shoulder issue in the match with Andreas Seppi on Saturday, but he doesn't believe it is too serious and will be healthy to go in this one.

He'll have to remain more focused in this one than he was against Seppi in the final two sets having dropped the third and then fallen a break behind in the fourth. If he does that against Ivo Karlovic, he is unlikely to grab the break back with the way the Croatian has been serving and I do think he can steal at least a set thanks to that weapon.

While Murray is a much stronger returner than most players Karlovic comes up against, the serve is simply coming out a tree and can be nigh on impossible to return effectively if Karlovic is on form. He beat Tomas Berdych in Halle and his run was only stopped on consecutive tie-breakers by Roger Federer, while his serve has aided him massively in wins over Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga this week.

When they met at Wimbledon in 2012, Karlovic was able to win one of the two tie-breakers played and it would be a huge upset if he was to win in straight sets. At odds against, backing at least four sets to be played looks the call.


Stan Wawrinka - 5.5 games v David Goffin: I have a lot of respect for how David Goffin has played this week to come through his first three matches without dropping a set. For the most part he has been incredibly comfortable after some first set difficulties and Goffin will come into the second week at Wimbledon with plenty of confidence after a decent grass court season.

However, the level of competition goes up a few levels for Goffin as he takes on the French Open winner Stan Wawrinka, a player that has yet to drop serve this week. That is despite an awkward Third Round match against Fernando Verdasco which ended with a straight forward Wawrinka win and he is playing with supreme belief in his own game.

If Wawrinka continues protecting his serve as he did in the first week, it is going to be very difficult for Goffin to get the better of him. As good as Goffin can be on his day, Wawrinka has the power and the accuracy to really trouble the Goffin serve and create break point chances.

He has been effective in taking the chances that come his way for the majority of time, especially as Goffin doesn't have the big serve to quickly get out of trouble. Wawrinka has won both previous matches including a comfortable straight sets win in Chennai at the start of the year and I think he will produce something similar as he moves into another Wimbledon Quarter Final after a regulation 75, 64, 63 win.


Roger Federer - 7.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: It has been a very good first week at Wimbledon for Roger Federer and he might not have been able to pick a better Fourth Round opponent than Roberto Bautista Agut. As much as Federer talked up the ability of his opponent, Bautista Agut is the exact kind of player that will allow Federer to play his entertaining brand of tennis and their two previous matches so the comfort the multiple Grand Slam Champion has had.

Both of the previous matches have come on hard courts, but Federer hasn't really been pushed in either and Bautista Agut's serve is not one that will intimidate anyone. With the way Federer has been serving I would expect he is able to fend off more opportunities than the Spaniard and I think that will eventually show up on the scoreboard.

I don't want to dismiss Bautista Agut completely as a former title winner on grass, but he hasn't done that much on the surface outside of that in Hertogenbosch last season.

He failed to come close to defending the title this time around and was beating by Andy Murray 62, 63, 62 last season at Wimbledon. While Bautista Agut can play some fancy looking tennis at times with decent shot-making ability, he will be on the defensive for much of this one as Federer dictates behind the serve and forehand.

Federer will look to get to the net when he can too and I think he is a comfortable 64, 63, 62 winner in this one.


Novak Djokovic-Kevin Anderson Over 31.5 Total Games: It looks like the layers have been very impressed with the manner and ease in which Novak Djokovic has pushed through the first week at Wimbledon. The Serb might not have felt as comfortable as it looked at times, but I think this is going to be his biggest test of the Grand Slam so far as he takes on Queens Runner Up Kevin Anderson.

I am not the biggest fan of the Anderson game because I think he is regularly caught out by the best players on the Tour and never really threatens to challenge the top players. That is shown by the fact he has never surpassed the Fourth Round in any Grand Slam, although Anderson has improved his showing at each of the last three Wimbledon tournaments having reached this stage last year.

Improving on that Fourth Round appearance looks very difficult against a returner of the quality of Djokovic, but Anderson has to be respected more than the layers seem to have done. While they believe Novak Djokovic wins easily enough, I think Anderson can force at least one tie-breaker and may even have enough to steal a set.

I am not expecting Anderson to win this match, but he can offer Djokovic the toughest match he has played here if serving well. As difficult as it is to break Djokovic and hold on against his return of serve, Anderson has the kind of serve to make that 'easier' if that is the right word. The big South African was beaten handily enough by Andy Murray at Queens and at Wimbledon last year, but a similar scoreline to Murray's 64, 63, 76 win would be a strong win for Djokovic and likely the best he will have to settle with in this Fourth Round.


Lucie Safarova - 3.5 games v Coco Vandeweghe: Both of these players have had some impressive wins at Wimbledon already this tournament, but I do think Lucie Safarova is the stronger player and can work her way past Coco Vandeweghe of the United States.

This has nothing to do with Vandeweghe's comments about Carmelo Anthony and my New York Knicks, but I simply think Safarova has the better skills on the grass court. The lefty serve is a seriously big weapon on the surface and Safarova has had such an immense last twelve months, the type of experience you can't buy.

Both players are still involved in the Doubles too so both Safarova and Vandeweghe have proved to be comfortable on the grass. Vandeweghe is a former grass court title winner at Hertogenbosch, but she has suffered some disappointing defeats on the surface this year and will need to serve at her very best to have a chance.

The American can certainly do that, but I do feel Safarova is in a great place mentally and isn't afraid of showcasing her talent on the big stage. Her Semi Final run here and French Open Final appearance all gives her the mental edge to produce her best when she needs it and I think she can wear down Vandeweghe in a 76, 63 win.


Maria Sharapova - 6.5 games v Zarina Diyas: How much has Zarina Diyas learnt from her hammering at the hands of Maria Sharapova from the Australian Open? That is going to be the big question in this Fourth Round match up and I do think Sharapova will underline her dominance behind her power game which can be tough for Diyas to deal with if the Russian is on her game.

Wimbledon hasn't been that kind to Sharapova over the years, but she is yet to drop a set and has been comfortable despite some less than stellar serving. That will have to improve in the next seven days if she is going to win her second Wimbledon title, while Sharapova hasn't been beyond the Fourth Round since reaching the Final in 2011.

The match up is a good one despite Diyas having a couple of impressive wins last week, and I think it will be hard for Diyas to keep Sharapova off the attack. Even the win over Andrea Petkovic saw Diyas save 9/11 break points and I am not sure Sharapova will be as generous if the chances come her way.

My biggest concern has to be the way Sharapova has been serving at times and whether that will give Diyas a chance to break serve and stay within this number. If Sharapova prevents getting the second serve yips, I do think she can hold enough games to come through with a fairly routine 64, 61 win which will be enough for her to cover this big number.


Serena Williams-Venus Williams Over 20.5 Total Games: Without a doubt the biggest match in the women's Fourth Round has to be the one between two players that have dominated Wimbledon over the last fifteen years... And they happen to be sisters!

Both Serena Williams and Venus Williams have won 5 Wimbledon titles each since the year 2000 and it is no surprise that they have been given Centre Court to entertain. Matches between the two have been competitive for the most part and Serena Williams leads 14-11, although the last match in Canada last year ended with a Venus Williams surprise win.

The grass court should be the best surface for Venus Williams to cause a shock if she is serving well, but I do think it could be fairly routine for Serena Williams if she is seeing a lot of second serves. It is hard to go against the younger Williams who is still at the very top of her game, although Venus Williams has been playing very well over the last twelve months herself.

The layers very much consider Serena Williams as being a very likely comfortable winner, but I don't think she is going to have it completely her own way. Their last eight matches has seen five go the distance, while 11/12 have gone over this total number of games.

I am expecting the two to give it their all on the court, but they both know what to expect from the other and are capable of offering up an entertaining match first up on Centre Court. This could easily go all the way to a third set, but even a tight two setter should be enough to surpass this number of games with the winner of the Williams battle likely to be confident of winning it all.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic-Andy Murray Over 3.5 Sets @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 7.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic-Kevin Anderson Over 31.5 Total Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Lucie Safarova - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Maria Sharapova - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Serena Williams-Venus Williams Over 20.5 Total Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 15-15, - 1.57 Units (59 Units Staked, - 2.66% Yield)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 6 Picks 2015 (July 4th)

It was another special evening on Centre Court as we saw one of the top players on the Tour being pushed to the edge by an opponent most would have expected them to roll over. Where Rafael Nadal failed to get the job done, Serena Williams dug herself out of a huge hole to beat Heather Watson and remain on course to win all of the Grand Slams in one calendar year.

There is no doubting that Serena Williams is going to have to play a lot better than she did in the Third Round match against Watson if she is going to go all the way in SW19, especially with a very difficult match against Venus Williams looming. It was a poor performance from 62, 43 when the match seemed to be completely under her control, although the British media of course want to hand the credit to Heather Watson.

I have been pretty hard towards the British players that don't seem to expect much more than an early loss at Wimbledon which gives them a chance to scratch around the Tour for another year, but I do think Heather Watson needs to be given some praise. It was a strong performance from a mental perspective, which will stand her in good stead going forward, but Sam Smith hit the nail on the head when talking about the various areas where Watson needs to improve her game.

The tightness of the match was more down to Williams playing down rather than Watson playing up, but it was still something she can use as a positive as long as she puts in the hard graft on the practice courts. In all honesty, getting to the Third Round at Wimbledon is a positive for Watson, but the key for her will be how she backs up a successful tournament as she heads off to the hard courts in preparation for the US Open.


There were some surprise results around Wimbledon on Friday, even if Watson failed to join that list, and the tournament is beginning to take shape heading into the second week. Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka look set for another collision course to complete their set of matches at every Grand Slam, while the women's draw has been set up to produce some very intriguing matches in the top half of the draw.

On Saturday we will complete the line up for the Fourth Round before Middle Sunday which is left empty at Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam to do that. It does mean Monday is usually a fantastic day to go watch some tennis if you are fortunate enough to have the chance to buy a ticket through the ballot.


It has not been the greatest week for the picks as Wimbledon continues to be my least productive Grand Slam despite it also being the one closest to where I live. The outright picks look intact for the most part going into the second week, but Karolina Pliskova and Grigor Dimitrov have exited the event before the Fourth Round.

Friday might have been seriously disappointing if Serena Williams had also departed, but she has to raise her levels if she is going to win four matches to take home the Wimbledon crown, although Novak Djokovic has looked strong.

With Middle Sunday in place, I will have a look back at the first week and also take a look at how the rest of the tournament may go along with my picks from the Fourth Round which will all be played on Monday.


Victor Troicki - 1.5 sets v Dustin Brown: Thursday night has to have been the biggest day of Dustin Brown's career, surpassing the win he had over Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon in 2013, as he beat Rafael Nadal in four sets. To be perfectly frank, Brown just had 'one of those days' when he couldn't do anything wrong and I think it will be a big ask to back that up against another competent grass court player unless lightning strikes twice.

After beating Hewitt in 2013, Brown had a similar level of fame around the courts of SW19, but he was comfortably beaten in the Third Round by Adrian Mannarino. So the big test off the surprise win over Rafael Nadal is whether Brown can back it up more effectively when he faces Victor Troicki.

These players split two matches last year with Brown coming through in three tight sets on a carpet court at the end of the year in a Challenger in Italy. Since then, Troicki has really picked up his form to the point of entering Wimbledon as a Seeded player and he has to be the favourite to take advantage of this section of the draw to earn a Quarter Final place.

He has been playing well on the grass and beat Aljaz Bedene fairly comfortably, although he did have another dip in that match as he did in the First Round. Troicki can't really afford any dips in his level in this one after seeing what Brown did, but I do think Dreddy will find it tough to pick himself up emotionally for this match.

The last three players to stun Nadal at Wimbledon have all been knocked out in the next Round and they have won set between them. All of the media and fan attention on Brown after his Second Round win can be tough for someone to deal with and unless Brown has learned from the experience of beating Hewitt, I think he struggles again.

Troicki will have to have his wits about him, but I like him to get this done in three or four sets with a couple of tie-breakers likely the deciders in a couple of the sets.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 1.5 sets v Ivo Karlovic: Both of these players have had to come through five set matches in the first week of Wimbledon, but Ivo Karlovic's match finished late on Thursday evening and I wonder how he has recovered physically. Age is definitely not on Karlovic's side and he has never really had consistent success at Wimbledon, although he did have a Third Round win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2009.

It is no surprise that that match was decided in four incredibly tight sets as Karlovic managed to win the big points in a match short of returning quality. It has been six years since that match and while Karlovic still has a monster serve, I do think he has lost a slight step when getting up to the net.

The Second Round win over Alexandr Dolgopolov will have taken something from him physically you would feel and Tsonga has the big game to get the job done. His two wins this week will have given the Frenchman confidence and I just think he can play the big points better than he did those years ago in that defeat to Karlovic.

If there is any hangover from a long fifth set for Karlovic, I would expect Tsonga to find a way to get this done in three or four sets and move into a potentially blockbuster Fourth Round match with Andy Murray on Monday.


James Ward + 1.5 sets v Vasek Pospisil: I have been heavily critical of James Ward and his lack of consistency on the Tour, but he looks set for his best ever World Ranking at the end of Wimbledon as he finally cracks through into the top 100. His win in the Second Round over Jiri Vesely was impressive and I am really surprised he is such a big underdog to beat Vasek Pospisil in the Third Round.

Yes, the Canadian has a big game which should be suited to the grass, but I don't think Pospisil is the most consistent player and is liable to making a lot of mistakes. He needed five sets to come through the First Round against Vincent Mallot, although Pospisil's four set win over Fabio Fognini was a classy win.

He also won the Doubles here with Jack Sock last year, so Pospisil can play on the grass, I just don't believe he is that much stronger than Ward on this surface. Both of James Ward's wins have come in four sets this week and I think he is enjoying taking advantage of David Ferrer's withdrawal while Rafael Nadal's exit has opened up a potential Quarter Final place.

With Pospisil not exactly having a strong Singles success on the grass courts, Ward has to feel he has the chance to pull the upset and I do think he has every chance of doing that. As long as Ward can continue to serving well and playing with the confidence he has shown this week, I do think he can push Pospisil very hard in this one and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a fifth set in this Third Round match.

Backing Ward on the set handicap looks to be the most productive way of backing a player that I think can go close to winning outright and that is the way I will go.


Madison Keys - 4.5 games v Tatjana Maria: If I had to pick one young player as a future Wimbledon Champion, I would think Madison Keys will have every chance of winning this event. The American has the big game to really work well on the grass courts as she showed by winning in Eastbourne last year and she is quietly making her way through the Wimbledon draw.

I think Keys has a very good chance of making it through to the second week at Wimbledon as she takes on Tatjana Maria who had to come through the Second Round with a 10-8 final set victory.

Maria has taken advantage of what has been a kind draw thanks to Eugenie Bouchard's First Round exit and it is a surprise to see her name in the Third Round. The German didn't show a lot of form in the tournaments leading into Wimbledon and the grass hasn't been her most productive period of the year.

Tiredness has to be a factor having played in the heat of Thursday and being out in more hot conditions on Saturday. If Keys can maintain her focus, I think this could be a fairly routine day for her and I like her to come through 63, 64.


Caroline Wozniacki - 3.5 games v Camila Giorgi: You won't have to tell Caroline Wozniacki how dangerous Camila Giorgi can be as a player as the Italian has a 2-1 head to head record over the Dane. That includes a win at a Grand Slam at the US Open, although Wozniacki can take some heart from having won their sole previous meeting on grass last year in Eastbourne.

Both players have had their wobbles in the opening two matches at Wimbledon before moving through to the Third Round, although it has to be said that neither has dropped a set. It is a classic defensive versus offensive player in this match as Giorgi doesn't really take a backward step and Wozniacki is capable of retrieving plenty of balls.

While Wozniacki managed to extract the errors from the Giorgi game in Eastbourne, the other two matches has see Giorgi hold her errors for long enough to win. When Giorgi is in form, she can be very difficult to slow down, but I think Wozniacki has looked pretty good in terms of her back issues and I think she can find her way past the Italian.

I can just see Wozniacki finding a way to frustrate Giorgi as the match wears on and that can help her win this match. However, the key to covering this number is to make sure she doesn't let Giorgi get away during an inevitable purple patch that the latter will have. If Wozniacki can find a way to stick with her, she can come through 75, 64 with an impressive Third Round win.

MY PICKS: Victor Troicki - 1.5 Sets @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 1.5 Sets @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
James Ward + 1.5 Sets @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 12-13, - 3.29 Units (49 Units Staked, - 6.71% Yield)

Friday, 3 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 5 Picks 2015 (July 3rd)

I was fortunate enough to attend Wimbledon on Thursday and was on Centre Court to see the shocking exit of Rafael Nadal at the hands of Dustin Brown.

It has been a long day so I will just get on with the picks and have a summary of Wimbledon when putting together the post for the Fourth Round picks from the matches to be played on Monday 6th July.


Nick Kyrgios-Milos Raonic Over 44.5 Total Games: I was actually a little surprised to see Milos Raonic set as a healthy favourite to beat Nick Kyrgios in the Third Round, a repeat of their Quarter Final from twelve months ago.

I love Nick Kyrgios.

Some might be put off by his 'antics' on the court, but I think the Australian is the kind of character that will attract a lot of casual attention to tennis and he can only be good for the game. Kyrgios is animated and aggressive, but he has to improve his return of serve if he is going to reach the top of the men's game as his potential suggests he can.

He has been a controversial this week in both wins and Kyrgios has to keep a lid on his frustration as he will be dealing with the Milos Raonic serve which can be tough to read for the best returners. Raonic has looked very good at times this week, but has dropped some silly sets in both wins and I think the Canadian is still dealing with some type of injury issue, while also trying to remain on good terms with the grass courts.

I also don't think Nick Kyrgios is completely over elbow and back injuries he has been dealing with, but he has been serving well for the most part. With Raonic doing the same, tie-breakers could be a real feature of this match and I also doubt any of the two players is able to get this done without dropping a set. A 76, 67, 63, 76 kind of win for one of the players looks likely for one of the players, while I wouldn't rule out a fifth set being needed in this one so am looking for the total games to be surpassed.


Stan Wawrinka - 5.5 games v Fernando Verdasco: Stan Wawrinka described Fernando Verdasco as a 'moody' player that can easily bring his best form to the court at any time. He also pointed out the success that Verdasco has had on the grass courts in the past and I think Wawrinka will know how focused he is going to need to be to win this match.

Both players are capable of playing some very flashy tennis and I think this is going to be one of the more entertaining matches that will be played on Friday. Personally I am looking forward to the Verdasco forehand to Wawrinka's backhand battles that will develop in this lefty versus righty contest and I think those out there who love watching incredible shot-making tennis will be in for a treat.

My only disappointment is this match coincides with the Richard Gasquet-Grigor Dimitrov match which also looks highly competitive, although I will focus on this match.

I favour Stan Wawrinka to get the better of Verdasco simply because the Spaniard has been taken to five sets in back to back matches and that has to have hurt from a physical standpoint in this heat. It will be another hot day on Friday and Verdasco is taking on a Stan Wawrinka who has been comfortable through the draw so far and playing with extreme confidence.

You know this is the kind of stage that Verdasco will enjoy though and I expect him to make life difficult for Wawrinka at times. However, he will have to serve a lot better if he is going to keep the World Number 4 at bay and I think Wawrinka will find a way to come through with a 63, 67, 63, 64 win.


Leonardo Mayer-Kevin Anderson Over 42.5 Total Games: As you get further and further into a Grand Slam, the matches are expected to get more competitive. However, Kevin Anderson is a pretty healthy favourite to beat Leonardo Mayer, although I think this will be a little closer than the layers.

While Kevin Anderson will be expected to get through to the Fourth Round after reaching the Final in Queens, Leonardo Mayer has proven he is more than capable on the grass. Wins over Thanasi Kokkinakis and Marcel Granollers without dropping a set is impressive form from Mayer and he was only beaten in a third set breaker in Nottingham to eventual winner Denis Istomin last week.

The Argentine also reached the Fourth Round last year at Wimbledon so will have a full belief in his own game that he can cause the upset. Mayer has a pretty big serve when he finds consistency from that shot and it can be a pretty big weapon on this surface. Add in the fact that Kevin Anderson hasn't been totally convincing this week and Mayer has every chance of completing the upset.

However, I am not completely sold on that happening and instead believe this might be another tight match that goes at least four sets. Tie-breakers should be played too and I think the match goes over this total games if going to four sets as I expect it will between two players serving well on a very hot day.


Andrea Petkovic - 3.5 games v Zarina Diyas: Both Andrea Petkovic and Zarina Diyas have been impressive in their first couple of wins at Wimbledon and now play for the right to enter the second week of this Grand Slam. Both players have already beaten the other once this season and so confidence won't be in short supply on either side of the court.

Diyas has the best win having beaten Flavia Pennetta in the First Round, but Petkovic has only lost four games through the first two wins.

Neither player has really been able to produce the goods at Wimbledon in the past, but this is a great opportunity for one of them to do that. I think the Petkovic serve is going to set her up a little better than Diyas and that could be a big reason as to why the German is moving through to the Fourth Round.

In a match that could see break points created by both players, the stronger serve of Petkovic might just help her save a couple more games than Diyas. That could lead to a 62, 36, 63 win for the German in a tight battle.


Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Heather Watson: This is the final match on Centre Court and one that will be watched by a very interested British public. After coming through her First Round match against Caroline Garcia perhaps a little fortunately, Heather Watson was much improved in her win over Daniela Hantuchova.

Now she has to pick up her level by another couple of notches if she is going to beat Serena Williams and end any hopes of a 'Serena Slam'. The first two Slams are already in the bag for Williams who is yet to really spark into life at Wimbledon and is perhaps most vulnerable in the first week of the tournament.

That is what Heather Watson has to believe if she is going to cause an upset, but I think the British Number 1 will struggle to deal with the power coming at her from the other side of the court. Much like Serena Williams dismisses the challenge of light hitting players much higher than Watson in the World Rankings, I am expecting the American's power to guide her through to the Fourth Round.

This is the kind of match that will fire up Williams and get her to bring her best to the court- she will know the fans will want to cheer on the home player and so I expect Williams to come out and make a point. I do think Watson can make a set semi-competitive, but Williams should eventually prove too strong, too consistent and too experienced for her in a 64, 61 win.

MY PICKS: Nick Krygios-Milos Raonic Over 44.5 Total Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Leonardo Mayer-Kevin Anderson Over 42.5 Total Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andrea Petkovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 10-10, - 0.89 Units (39 Units Staked, - 2.28% Yield)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 4 Picks 2015 (July 2nd)

The first three days at Wimbledon have been bathed in warm weather, but the first rain delay of the tournament looks set to take place on Thursday as rain is scheduled for much of the early afternoon. It would be a big surprise if the roof isn't used for the first two matches on Centre Court, but some of the British public might be surprised to hear that Andy Murray has not been scheduled to play his match on the main show court.

While he is scheduled to be first up, and likely able to complete his match before the close of play with the rain cleared up later in the afternoon, Murray might have to face a wait of up to three hours before he is able to begin his match while rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal know for certain that they will have their Second Round matches taking place at the scheduled time.

It is unlikely that the entire Second Round matches that have been set for Thursday are able to get through before the end of play, especially if the expected rain arrives. However, Wimbledon would do well to employ every court they have and perhaps hold the Doubles matches over for another day which should give them half a chance to get all of their Singles matches through and keep the tournament on point.


Roberto Bautista Agut - 5.5 games v Benoit Paire: There weren't any problems in the First Round for either Roberto Bautista Agut or Benoit Paire as both moved into the Second Round with a straight sets victory. However, I think Benoit Paire might have been the beneficiary of a kind draw and I am not sure how much he believes he can have a long-term impact at Wimbledon.

I mean while most players continued their preparation on the grass courts, Paire decided his two qualifier defeats in Hertogenbosch and Halle were enough and instead played in a Challenger event on the clay in Milan last week. He does have a decent serve which should suit the grass courts, but the change in surface has to be a concern if Paire falls behind in this match as I am not sure how much he will want to turn things around.

It is all the tougher that Paire faces Bautista Agut who has won all six previous matches between these two including straight sets wins at the Australian and French Open in 2014. However it has to be said that the Spaniard has not been in the best form of late and that has seen his Ranking drop down to Number 22 and Bautista Agut lost both matches played on the grass ahead of Wimbledon.

However, I think Bautista Agut has the defensive skills to extract the errors from the Paire game and he was a little unfortunate to lose to Fernando Verdasco at Queens. If he serves well, I expect him to frustrate Paire and that should eventually lead to a 64, 76, 63 win and a place in the Third Round.


Victor Troicki - 5.5 games v Aljaz Bedene: He might have shifted his allegiance to Great Britain over the last couple of months, but Aljaz Bedene is not as comfortable on the grass courts as others representing the nation. While his win over Radek Stepanek in five sets was impressive, it was Bedene's first win in the main draw at Wimbledon and Stepanek is still suffering from lingering affects from his injury.

Suffice to say the level of competition has gone by two or three levels on Thursday as Bedene gets ready to take on Victor Troicki, a player who reached the Final in Stuttgart and Semi Final at Queens Club preparing for Wimbledon. Troicki had been serving very well at both of those events and bringing that kind of form into Wimbledon will make him a tough out over the best of five set format.

Barring a blip in the third set, Troicki was a comfortable winner in the First Round and his form looks good. He has beaten Bedene on the clay courts last year and I think he prefers the faster surfaces so I do think Troicki has a real edge in this Second Round match, one that is perhaps not shown up by the number of games he is being asked to cover.

While Bedene has a decent first serve, he can struggle to hold serve against someone as aggressive as Troicki on the return and I think he is worn down in this one. Bedene will have plenty of crowd support, but I don't think he is very comfortable on the grass and I expect Troicki to come through 63, 64, 64.


Roger Federer - 6.5 games v Sam Querrey: There is every chance that this match could be played under the roof if the expected rain hits SW19 and that could make it one with a serving clinic offered by both players. Roger Federer remains one of the best indoor players in the world, while his pedigree on grass is known to all.

Playing under the roof at Wimbledon isn't something that Federer hasn't dealt with before so I expect him to be comfortable, while Sam Querrey might have his best chance of causing an upset. An indoor match should help the Querrey serve, which remains his biggest weapon, but I think the American has to really produce his best match of his career to move into the Third Round.

If the shots are kept short, Querrey will have his best chance of causing the upset, but any time the rallies reach the fourth shot and beyond has to favour Roger Federer. Both players will look to target the backhand side, but Federer's ability to ghost to the net and Querrey's sometimes mental lapse in concentration should give the former seven time winner chances to win this one without too many difficulties.

Querrey showed tremendous character to reach the Final in Nottingham last week, but he rode his luck at times and Federer is unlikely to be as generous allowing him back into this match. Federer has won all five sets previously against Querrey and I like him coming through this one 63, 76, 63.


Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 games v Silvia Soler-Espinosa: After her run to the French Open Semi Final last month, the big question for Timea Bacsinszky was how she was going to back that up. She proved she is mentally ready for Wimbledon with an impressive First Round win over Julia Goerges and I expect her to be too good for Silvia Soler-Espinosa who isn't so keen on the grass court season.

Instead of playing a grass court tournament in preparation for Wimbledon, the Spaniard took in a clay court event in France and Soler-Espinosa has failed to go beyond the Second Round at this Slam in the past. While she does have a few First Round wins under her belt, Soler-Espinosa generally finds the increased level of opponent too difficult to handle at Wimbledon.

It should be the same again for her against Bacsinszky who has won their two previous matches without being threatened at all. Bacsinszky doesn't have a deep Wimbledon portfolio and was beaten in the Second Round last year, but her mindset has changed since moving up to World Number 15 in the Rankings.

This is a player that is determined to give her all to her tennis career which was close to ending a couple of years ago and Bacsinszky has the accuracy and consistency to dominate the rallies. The match up has been a good one for her in the past and Soler-Espinosa's disregard for the grass court season suggests a 63, 63 win is in the offing for the Seed.


Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 games v Kristyna Pliskova: One of the Pliskova sisters was beaten in the Second Round on Wednesday and I think the lower Ranked Pliskova is going to be beaten in the Second Round on Thursday. Kristyna Pliskova has failed to reach the heights that sister Karolina has on the Singles Tour and she has struggled for consistency heading into this Grand Slam.

She takes on the veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova who is a two time Slam winner, but someone who has struggled at Wimbledon through her career. While Kuznetsova has some Quarter Final appearances earlier in her career, the Russian has failed to reach that stage in her last six appearance and had been a First Round loser the last two times at Wimbledon.

Kuznetsova had shown some decent form heading into Wimbledon this year and she was a comfortable First Round winner. That will be a boost in confidence for someone that isn't overly comfortable on the grass, but she has to be aware of her opponent who has some solid results on this surface in events below the main Tour level.

The lefty serve could pose Kuznetsova some problems and Pliskova has decent pop on the serve, like her sister, but I think the movement of the Russian wins the day. As long as Kuznetsova doesn't let the fact that she is on grass play on her mind, I think she will have a little too much 'know how' and come through 63, 64 against an opponent that is yet to make waves like Karolina Pliskova has.

MY PICKS: Roberto Bautista Agut - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Victor Troicki - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 6.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Timea Bacsinszky - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Svetlana Kuznetsova - 4.5 Games @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 8-7, + 1.84 Units (29 Units Staked, + 6.34% Yield)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Wimbledon Day 3 Picks 2015 (July 1st)

The First Round at Wimbledon, barring two women's matches, has been completed through the soaring temperatures at SW19 and most of the top contenders have moved through to the Second Round as expected.

That is especially the case for the men's draw, but the biggest casualty of the tournament so far has to be Simona Halep who has performed admirably at Wimbledon over the last couple of years. She wasn't as well backed as Serena Williams or Petra Kvitova, but Halep would have expected much more after an early exit at the French Open and now has to regroup for the hard court season which follows this one.

Carla Suarez Navarro was a vulnerable top ten player, but no Seed was more vulnerable than Eugenie Bouchard, even if it was a match that she should have been winning in the First Round. However, the level of opponent that seems to get the better of Bouchard is certainly dropping, although the Canadian revealed she has been suffering with an abdomen injury.

Bouchard has admitted that she is going to take some time off the Tour to heal physically, but I also think it will be important for her to get her mind right. Tennis is such a mental game at the highest level where the talent isn't enough to win matches and it is clear that Bouchard has next to no confidence whenever she steps onto the court.


While the first two days at Wimbledon have been very hot, the temperature is set to increase even more on Wednesday and I think it will be a physical battle for players out there. There is a heat rule in place for the women, but the majority of those matches have been scheduled for later in the afternoon when the hope will be that the temperatures do dip enough to keep the players on court.

Another fantastic day of tennis looks to be in the offing for the spectators and the Second Round begins with the competition moved up a level from what we have seen so far.


Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 games v Steve Johnson: There was little doubt that Grigor Dimitrov was going to get through his First Round match against a disinterested opponent, but Steve Johnson should pose a much stronger test. Johnson has to have recovered from a five set win in his own First Round match, but has the big serve and strong forehand to pose plenty of problems in this one.

However, Johnson has never really produced the goods on the grass courts aside from early success at Challenger level. He did have a win over Bernard Tomic earlier in the grass court season, but defeats to the likes of Florian Mayer and Sergiy Stakhovsky don't do much to inspire confidence as well as the difficulties Johnson had in the First Round.

It has not been the greatest season for Dimitrov though and that would be a concern in backing him. However, I think the Bulgarian is good enough and comfortable enough on grass to reach the Semi Final this week out of a tough Quarter of the draw and I do think Dimitrov will feel happier being on this surface of the two players.

Even the loss to Gilles Muller at Queens hasn't looked as bad considering how Muller has been playing and I think Dimitrov will be too good for Johnson in this Second Round match. He might need to come through one tie-breaker, but Dimitrov winning this one 63, 76, 64 looks the call for me.


Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 games v Dominic Thiem: With the conditions as they are, no player wants to really spend five sets out on court, especially not having to play 25 games in the final set to move into the Second Round. That is what Fernando Verdasco will have to deal with in this match, but he has had a couple of days to recover physically and you have to expect the Spaniard is used to the weather we are seeing in South London.

His grass court know how has to give him a big advantage in this Second Round match against a talented opponent in Dominic Thiem who came from a set down to beat Dudi Sela. However Thiem has really struggled to get to grips with the grass courts in his young career and I do think he will still take some time to adjust to this surface.

Thiem won't have a lot of time if Verdasco is in strong form as he has the big serve and heavy groundstrokes to really make hay on grass. Verdasco has reached the Quarter Final at Wimbledon before and is very comfortable on the grass and I think that gives him a big edge in the contest.

Physically Verdasco has shown he is capable of coming back from five set matches and still producing strong tennis and I don't have too many concerns about his 13-11 win in the fifth set against Martin Klizan. This one might not need to go as far as that, although I think Thiem is good enough to take a set as Verdasco moves into the Third Round with a 63, 36, 63, 64 win.


Sam Stosur - 4.5 games v Urszula Radwanska: There is no doubting that Sam Stosur has failed to really make the best of her potential on the grass in the past, but I still think she can get the better of the younger Radwanska sister playing on the Tour. Urszula Radwanska came through her First Round match without any difficulties, but Stosur should give her a lot more problems to deal with in the Second Round.

The serve has been surprisingly less effective on the grass than it should be- Stosur gets a great kick out of the second serve, but I guess she just struggles to deal with the lower bounce consistently.

It is hard to put a finger on her issues though as Stosur is a decent volleyer and has a wicked slice off the backhand to go with the big serve. Those weapons should give her a chance to keep Radwanska on the back foot and the Pole has lost comfortably in her two defeats on the grass this season.

Radwanska is also not as comfortable on the grass as elder sister Agnieszka and I think she may struggle to keep Stosur from staying ahead on the scoreboard. It should lead to a fairly routine 64, 63 win for the Australian as long as the 'grass court monsters' don't affect her game too much.


Venus Williams - 5.5 games v Yulia Putintseva: Serena Williams continues to dominate the women's game, but elder sister Venus Williams has definitely looked a much more competitive player over the last year. After suffering through some serious illnesses, Venus Williams has rediscovered her form and Wimbledon remains the tournament closest to her heart.

It took a big effort from Petra Kvitova to end the Venus Williams run twelve months ago and a double bagel over Madison Brengle shows that Williams is someone who can still dominate on this surface. Williams comfortably dismissed Yulia Putintseva when they met last year in Canada on the hard courts, and she will feel confident to come through without too much fuss on grass.

Putintseva has to be given credit for beating Marina Erakovic in the First Round, a tough competitor on this surface, but that is a rare success on grass for the player representing Kazakhstan. She is going to have to try and handle the difficult conditions as well as the power of the Venus Williams game and I am struggling to see how she will do that.

It has all the hallmarks of a similar kind of match to when they met on the hard courts last year and I think Venus Williams matches the 63, 62 scoreline.


Andrea Petkovic - 5.5 games v Mariana Duque-Marino: Another player that recorded a double bagel in the First Round that I am expecting to back up that performance is Andrea Petkovic. She takes on Mariana Duque-Marino who surprised a British hope in the First Round, although I think Petkovic is going to be far too solid for her.

This is not really the kind of surface that appeals to Duque-Marino and the Colombian hasn't had a lot of success on it which isn't really a surprise. She can transfer some of her clay court nous onto this surface, but someone like Petkovic should be able to hit through her on the faster court.

One concern has to be that the grass hasn't always been the favourite part of the year for Petkovic and she hasn't really produced the goods at Wimbledon. However, she has been given a kind couple of draws to help build some confidence and get into a position to have her best result in this Grand Slam.

It might be competitive at times, but Petkovic should have a little too much in the locker as she breaks down Duque-Marino in a 64, 62 win.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sam Stosur - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrea Petkovic - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Wimbledon Update: 5-5, + 0.36 Units (19 Units Staked, + 1.89% Yield)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Wimbledon Day 2 Picks 2015 (June 30th)

The warm weather has come at a very good time for Wimbledon which saw the first day of the tournament bathed in perfect weather for tennis. The next few days might be a little more awkward for the players as the heat is expected to hit some huge highs and there is even talk of a heat rule being enforced similar to what the Australian Open regularly fields.

In terms of British tennis, the big news story of the day was Liam Broady winning his First Round match, but I thought it was a little amusing the way the win was being portrayed. Yes, anyone who comes back to win a match from two sets down has to be respected, but Broady was a pretty healthy favourite to beat Marinko Matosevic which makes me look at the match from a different angle.

It would have been a huge low if Broady hadn't won the match and the fact he was 2-0 down in sets to a player that has barely won a match in three months has to be a disappointment. I can understand taking the positives of the comeback and the fact Broady has moved into the Second Round, but the BBC were almost making it out to be a huge upset and the odds suggest it simply wasn't and the upset would have been Matosevic moving through.


There weren't too many surprises on Day 1 at the tournament and most of the big names have moved through to the Second Round that were scheduled to play on Monday. The biggest players that have been knocked out are Carla Suarez Navarro and Tommy Robredo, but the exit of Suarez Navarro underlined previous thoughts I have had about her and what looks like an inflated Ranking.

As well as Suarez Navarro can play and as pretty as her game looks, the lack of power means she is vulnerable in every tournament she plays where the Spaniard fails to bring the consistency to the court. Her defeat to the 2014 Junior Wimbledon Champion Jelena Ostapenko was disappointing, but the manner of the 62, 60 defeat is nothing short of embarrassing for a supposed top ten player and I expect a significant drop in Suarez Navarro's Ranking this time next year.


Gilles Muller + 1.5 sets v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: This would likely have been a difficult First Round match for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in normal circumstances, but his lack of grass court action prior to Wimbledon just increases the danger Gilles Muller presents.

After injury meant Tsonga's 2015 season started later than others, it is another injury since his Semi Final run to the French Open which has prevented the Frenchman from taking part in any grass court tournaments this last month. Now he has to take on an in-form opponent who has the kind of serve and physical play to make life very difficult for him.

Gilles Muller has had decent results in Hertogenbosch and Queens prior to Wimbledon and the lefty delivery naturally will head towards Tsonga's weaker backhand wing. Muller doesn't have the biggest serve on the Tour, but his accuracy is very good and he will be tough to beat if he is hitting his marks.

This was a First Round match I considered the upset to be a real chance of happening and I still believe that. I am not completely convinced by Muller who might be a little over-rated from his performances at Wimbledon, but Tsonga will need time to get used to the grass and has not been playing much tennis of late.

Muller has to hit his spots to keep the pressure on Tsonga and I can see a couple of tie-breakers playing a major part in the match. Tsonga did beat Muller in two tight sets in Metz last year, but the injury issues and Muller's form suggests he can turn that around. I will play it a little safer and back Muller to win at least two sets on the handicap rather than actually back him to complete the upset and backing Muller to win at least two sets looks a decent price.


Rafael Nadal - 7.5 games v Thomaz Bellucci: This is the lowest Rafael Nadal has been Ranked heading into Wimbledon for over a decade and there hasn't been too many times in that period where Nadal comes in not as the defending French Open Champion. A win in Stuttgart, Nadal's first title on a grass court since winning Wimbledon in 2010, was good preparation for this year's event in SW19, but an early exit at Queens suggests it would be a huge surprise for Nadal to win it all.

The Spaniard might have hoped for someone a little more routine than Thomaz Bellucci in the First Round, although Nadal has won all four previous matches. That includes a straight sets win at Wimbledon three years ago and Nadal has yet to drop a set to Bellucci, although the hot conditions will give the Brazilian a chance to really get his serve ramped up.

Bellucci has reached the Third Round at Wimbledon in the past so he is far from an easy prospect on grass, although recent years have been more of a struggle. The Brazilian has lost six matches in a row on grass and many of those have been in straight forward fashion.

He will have his way with Nadal at some point in this match, but I think he won't be able to keep it up mentally. While Bellucci might keep it tight for a set, eventually Nadal will begin to wear him down and I think the latter is the kind of player that never drops his intensity, even if the performances on the court are not quite up to scratch.

I expect Nadal will manage to get enough balls back in play and he may wear down Bellucci with a 75, 63, 63 win.


Tomas Berdych Win 3-1 v Jeremy Chardy: The last few years since reaching the Wimbledon Final in 2010 have been difficult for Tomas Berdych on the grass and his form coming into Wimbledon is not exactly inspiring. He could have asked for a much easier First Round match than against Jeremy Chardy who has the game that is suited to the grass courts, although Chardy hasn't been in the best form himself.

Both men will look to dictate things behind a big first serve and look to attack the second when they can, although I do think Berdych is the more consistent player on the ground. The extended rallies should see Berdych find a way to power Chardy into mistakes, but the Frenchman is more than capable of playing special tennis as he showed at the French Open in a four set defeat to Andy Murray.

Berdych has generally been able to play at a consistent level which is enough to keep Chardy from causing a shock and that has also led to three wins against him in the past. The grass courts haven't been the most productive for Berdych though and I think this match is a little more difficult than the last two wins over Chardy have been for him.

I can see a couple of tie-breakers being played in the match and perhaps each player to win one of those, but Berdych should be a little too strong and solid for Chardy in a four set win.


Camila Giorgi - 5.5 games v Teliana Pereira: It seems like Teliana Pereira has given up the ghost when it comes to playing on the grass courts and decided to take no preparation tournaments in prior to Wimbledon. That might have been because Pereira was beaten in all three matches she played on grass last season and two of those losses did come fairly comfortably.

Now she takes on Camila Giorgi who won the title in Hertgenbosch and who has the game to be a real threat on the faster surfaces. The Italian hits very big from the back of the court and has a decent first serve, although Giorgi has the tendency to throw in far too many double faults to think she can be a threat to win a Grand Slam at this stage of her career.

However, I do think Giorgi will hit a little too flat for someone like Pereira who might not have much in the way of belief to stay in the tournament if she falls behind. Giorgi is not someone I would regularly back to cover big spreads because of the yips she gets on serve, but this looks the perfect First Round match for her and I expect her to take advantage.

After a tough opening set, Giorgi might take control and move through 64, 62.


Sabine Lisicki - 4.5 games v Jarmila Gajdosova: I do respect the kind of game that Jarmila Gajdosova can bring to the court, but I also know she is the kind of player that can lose heart when things are not quite going to plan. On the grass courts, Sabine Lisicki has the kind of power to break someone mentally and I think that is going to be a factor in a routine First Round win.

There are many other players in the draw that Sabine Lisicki might have preferred to face because Gajdosova can be very dangerous when she brings her 'A' game to the court. She can serve big and has heavy groundstrokes that will expose some of the movement issues that Lisicki can have, but I think the scoreboard pressure might play a big part.

As good as Gajdosova's serve can be, Sabine Lisicki's is a huge weapon on this surface and the German serving well will put a lot of pressure on her opponent. She can get herself out of trouble with big aces and that will frustrate Gajdosova and I believe will lead to her breaking down the Australian's game.

It should be a fun match to watch while it lasts, but I think Lisicki will end up coming through with a routine looking 75, 63 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Gilles Muller + 1.5 Sets @ 1.90 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 7.5 Games @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych Win 3-1 @ 3.80 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Camila Giorgi - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sabine Lisicki - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units) To be completed at 1-1 in sets.

Wimbledon Update: 2-2, - 0.34 Units (8 Units Staked, - 4.25% Yield)