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NBA Picks December 2017 (December 11-17)

December has not started as well as I had hoped and I have taken a couple of days off from the NBA Picks to get back on track. I missed an...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Canadian Masters Tennis Picks 2017 (August 9th)

It's hard not to feel frustrated when having a rough patch with the Tennis Picks and what looks like a player in a very strong position is then not allowed to complete the win because an opponent retired. For the second time in two weeks that has happened now with Casper Ruud and Oceane Dodin pulling out when on the brink of losing (brink is probably harsh on Dodin).

The irritating part is when you pick a player and they completely tank away a match with little to no interest, but show little sign of wanting to pull out.

The Dodin retirement made for a bad day on Tuesday with a 2-3 record which has dropped the weekly total into a negative yet again. Nothing is more annoying than when you feel you are on the right side of the numbers, but that was only the case in the Elina Svitolina match on Tuesday.

Three tight games all went against her at the beginning of the second set and she dropped into a 4-0 hole, but still managed to win six games in a row to win the match 7-6, 6-4, but miss the cover by a single game. Those kind of losses hurt because it really feels one or two points earlier in the set could have made all of the difference.

Wednesday looks to be another busy day with almost the entire Second Round in Montreal and Toronto being played on the one day. It looks another clear one in terms of weather, although the latter part of this week looks anything but impressive.

With the huge amount of matches on schedule for today, the breakdown of the picks won't be as long as usual.


Caroline Garcia - 2.5 games v Varvara Lepchenko: Both Varvara Lepchenko and Caroline Garcia had impressive three set wins this week, although the numbers were against Lepchenko who battled past Jelena Ostapenko. Out of the two players Garcia looked the more convincing in the First Round and perhaps will feel she should have gotten the job done in straight sets than being forced to play a decider.

The hard courts are the best surface for Lepchenko who has a game that can be very dangerous when she is feeling at her best. The lefty serve can produce plenty of cheap points when Lepchenko brings in her 'A' game while she also has enough firepower off the ground to stay with players like she proved in her win over Ostapenko.

Lepchenko also had two solid Qualifying wins which should mean she is very comfortable in the conditions in Toronto. Her return has been a big factor in her wins, but now she has to deal with a Garcia serve that can be very strong.

Like with many on the WTA Tour, Garcia can sometimes lack consistency behind her serve, but she does have enough pop to bring up the short ball and a lot of the way her service games go will be on her racquet. A better return game would see Garcia shoot up the World Rankings, and that is a factor that concerns me when I consider how well Lepchenko can serve on a hard court, but the American has not brought her best to the court on that side of her game just yet.

Coming off a huge win over a Grand Slam Champion with the energy that was exerted could be tough to replicate and I am looking for Garcia to come through with a 7-6, 6-4 win.


Garbine Muguruza - 5.5 games v Kirsten Flipkens: I have previously stated that Garbine Muguruza should be aiming to be the next star on the WTA Tour, but she didn't really kick on from her French Open win in 2016. Winning Wimbledon last month was a huge boost for Muguruza in what has been a difficult season for her, and she has produced some of her best tennis on the hard courts.

The first match at a new event can be tough, especially when facing an opponent like Kirsten Flipkens who will try and get as many balls back into play as she can. Flipkens has also won three matches in the tournament already having come through the Qualifiers, but this match will be on the racquet of Muguruza.

She has produced solid numbers on the hard courts in 2017 and that has to be an encouragement to a two time Slam Champion. Last week Muguruza played well in Stanford before running into eventual winner Madison Keys in the Semi Final, and she is not going to be facing the same firepower as the American brings to the court.

Flipkens did stun Muguruza on the grass courts of Mallorca in 2016, but that was hot off the heels of the French Open success. They have met on two occasions on the hard courts since January 2016 and both times Muguruza won and covered this number of games. I will look for her to do the same in a 6-4, 6-2 win on Wednesday.


Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: For the first time in her career, Karolina Pliskova will be playing a match as the World Number 1 and you simply don't know how a player will react. While her opponent has been getting used to the hard courts with events over the last couple of weeks, Pliskova may think this is the perfect match for her having beaten Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in all four professional matches.

They haven't met since the US Open in 2016, but all four wins have come in the last two years and Pliskova is yet to drop a set against the Russian. I can see why her game matches up so well compared with Pavlyuchenkova because Pliskova can match the firepower that is coming from the other side of the court, but has the superior serve.

So where Pliskova may be able to take a few heavy swings against the return, Pavlyuchenkova has a few more difficulties getting into the service games of Pliskova. If you take their three main Tour matches, Pliskova is leading in terms of breaks of serve 15-5 and that is likely to be a difference maker here.

It may take time for Pliskova to feel totally comfortable having only just returned to the court, but I will look for her to win this match 6-4, 6-3.


Johanna Konta - 3.5 games v Ekaterina Makarova: You have to respect Ekaterina Makarova for winning the title in Washington last week and then producing strong tennis to see off Shuai Peng in the First Round in Toronto. It had not been the best of seasons for Makarova before the last ten days though and now she has to face Johanna Konta who has beaten her in all four previous matches.

A couple of those have been close and Makarova was perhaps not at 100% when losing to Konta in the Australian Open Fourth Round back in January. This is also the first match for Konta since losing in the Wimbledon Semi Final last month which are all factors that could be pointing away from the British player from covering this number.

However I think she has every chance of doing that with the way Konta has performed on the hard courts over the last twelve months. She is a genuine contender to win the title at the US Open at the beginning of September and winning the Miami Masters will give Konta confidence going into the next month.

The numbers are really impressive for Konta on this surface... She is 32-4 against players Ranked outside the top 20 as a top 20 player in her own right over the last two seasons. In the last twelve months she has won thirty-nine matches and gone 33-6 when covering this margin of games in that time and I will look for her to earn another cover against an opponent who could show some fatigue from her exploits over the last ten days.


Petra Kvitova - 4.5 games v Sloane Stephens: Both of these players are off long-term injuries, but it was Petra Kvitova who was making the 'quicker' comeback on the Tour. Sloane Stephens has earned her first win on the Tour for over twelve months in the First Round, but she will need to be at her very best to hold off Kvitova even if the latter has been up and down day to day.

It will take time for both Stephens and Kvitova to get back to where they were before the injuries, but both will feel they have the level of tennis and the improving confidence to do that. There is going to be plenty of big hitting on display for the fans, but the key to the match, and the cover, may be the superior Kvitova serve.

While Stephens gets plenty of pop off her own serve, I think Kvitova has the more consistent delivery when it comes to earning the cheap points. At the moment you can't really tell which Kvitova is coming onto the court, but Stephens won't be used to playing two matches in a short space either and I think that potentially shows up.

I am anticipating Kvitova is going to earn the majority of break points in this one and a solid serving day should help her get into a position to come through with a 6-3, 6-4 win.


Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Ryan Harrison: 2017 has been a strong season for Ryan Harrison as he is back in a position to earn automatic entry into the Grand Slam events. With a title win on the indoor hard courts in Memphis, Harrison may feel this is his time of the season, but he has yet to produce a strong run on the hard courts this summer.

There are things to like about the Harrison game with a decent first serve and heavy forehand that can see him ease through games. However work needs to be done on the return game, although that may not show up so much against Roberto Bautista Agut.

However the Spaniard has a decent return game which should put pressure on Harrison and Bautista Agut has played well on the hard courts in 2017. His numbers look stronger than Harrison's on both serve and return and I think that is going to be important in this Second Round match as I look for the Spaniard to move past his opponent.

Bautista Agut has won nine best of three set matches on the hard courts in 2017 and he has covered this number eight times. That includes in the First Round when Bautista Agut got used to the conditions in Montreal and I will look for him to win this one 6-4, 6-4.


Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Mischa Zverev: There is no doubt that Grigor Dimitrov can be a hard player to trust because he has the tendency to throw in far too many loose service games. When it comes to covering numbers like this against players who can serve as well as Mischa Zverev can on his day, I do think this can be a dangerous number to back Dimitrov.

However he has been playing better against the players further down the World Rankings and the hard court numbers have shown improvement in 2017. While I don't anticipate Dimitrov is a threat to win the US Open, I do think he is capable of coming through a few Rounds fairly comfortably with the way he has been returning.

The return is a key against a serve-volley player like Zverev, but I can't help feel the German is a touch overrated because of his exploits at the Australian Open. His general numbers are not that strong and Zverev can have a few issues on the return which puts pressure on the left hander to serve at the peak of his powers or risk being beaten.

His two performances on the hard courts this summer have not been that impressive and even the win in the First Round came after dropping serve too often for Zverev's liking. I think Dimitrov is going to have his chances in this one and I am hoping he can produce one of his better serving days which should see him find a way to earn a couple more breaks of serve than Zverev and win the match 7-5, 6-4.


Jack Sock - 1.5 games v David Ferrer: If this match was played eighteen months ago, I would have expected David Ferrer to be the favourite as he was when they met in Auckland in January 2016. However things have changed in that time, although I am not sure the layers are giving Ferrer a little too much respect with the handicap for the match.

Jack Sock is a difficult person to read because he can look really flat when it comes to the return game, while controlling his service games. That is a general view of Sock and it may just be the way his body language is, but the numbers back up the fact that his return game has got room for improvement.

In saying that, Sock has returned better this season than previous years which shows he may be working on a few things himself. He will certainly have a chance to get into the David Ferrer service games, and the Spaniard is clearly not as consistent as he once was with age beginning to catch up with him.

The win over Edmund in the First Round as well as the title win in Bastad may make Ferrer a little overrated for this match. Sock's serve should be good enough to keep Ferrer from earning too many break points and I expect the American to force his own opportunities as he comes through 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.


I've added the four other ATP Picks below.

MY PICKS: Caroline Garcia - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)
Johanna Konta - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Jack Sock - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
David Goffin - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Canadian Masters Update: 4-4, - 1.04 Units (16 Units Staked, - 6.5% Yield)

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