The remaining women’s fourth round matches in the 2014 Australian Open are all set for Monday with a great line-up for the fans on Day Eight in Melbourne after a memorable Sunday.
Hot favourite Serena Williams, affected by a back injury, was dumped out of the women’s draw by Ana Ivanovic, while it was two winners from my two best bets as Genie Bouchard came back to dominate Casey Dellaqua after Flavia Pennetta and Angelique Kerber had fought out the expected tight three-setter.
Jelena Jankovic 2.12 v Simona Halep 1.68
I said in my article ahead of JJ’s last match with Kurumi Nara that the over 18.5 total games was worthy of consideration as it could be tight and that’s what transpired as Jankovic entered one of her frequent meltdown modes and had a damn good scream at her players’ box.
The Serb was frustrated at her form in that match and conceded that she was lucky to get through. One gets the feeling that she’ll need a fair bit more on Monday in her fourth career meeting with Halep.
All three of their meetings so far have been close, with all going to three sets and Halep too wasn’t happy with her form in a functional win over Zarina Diyas in her most recent match here, so this is a match that could really go either way.
Halep, for all of her improvement last year, is playing only her second fourth round at a major, while JJ has far more experience at this stage, so Halep doesn’t appeal at 1.68.
I prefer the overs here at 1.92, but it’s not a match I’ll be betting on.
Dominika Cibulkova 3.15 v Maria Sharapova 1.34
There was a simple winner for this column in Domi’s last match when she took a below par Carla Suarez-Navarro down for the loss of just one game, and the small in stature Slovak isn’t without a chance in what will be a battle of power hitting on Monday.
Domi generates a surprising amount of force on her ground strokes for one so small, but she’ll need to be at the top of her game to keep Sharapova from battering her second serve in this encounter.
She has done it before against Maria, but not lately, and they’ve never before met on a hard court, with four of their previous five meetings taking place on clay (two wins each) and one on grass.
Memorably, Cibulkova thrashed Sharapova at the French Open back in 2009, but her career record against top-10 opponents is 19-41 (32%) and the last time she beat a top-three ranked player on a hard court was back in 2011 at Indian Wells against Vera Zvonareva.
The 2.75 about Domi winning set one or the +1.5 sets at 1.75 look the ones to think about for me.
Agnieszka Radwanska 1.43 v Garbine Muguruza 2.75
This one will be the classic battle of the aggressive, attacking approach of the young Spaniard versus the all-court game and cagey skills of the Pole, and it was the latter that came out on top in their only career meeting thus far.
Much has changed since a 6-3, 6-2 win for Aga on slow hard in Miami back in 2012 though, and Muguruza surprised me, not by winning, but by lasting physically against Caro Wozniacki in a three setter in her last match here.
This will be match number 12 of the last fortnight or so for Muguruza and fortunately for her the best tactic anyway is to come out with all guns blazing and try to hit Aga off court like Serena and Vika tend to do.
Whether or not Garbi has enough left in her tank to do that must be questioned again, but she’s worth a bet to either win set one at 2.55 or with a 1.5 set start at 1.68.
Sloane Stephens 5.00 v Victoria Azarenka 1.17
If you read and believe the ridiculously biased American press, this rematch of last year’s controversial semi-final should be close and Stephens has a real shot at taking down the defending champion.
If I recall correctly Vika did take a questionable medical timeout 12 months ago, but it’s impact on the match was negligible and nothing I’ve seen from Sloane since then would lead me to believe that she has much of a chance of righting any perceived wrongdoing this time.
The hiring of Roger Federer’s former coach Paul Annacone is a good sign for Stephens though and she is a real talent, but her level is much too up and down for my liking and I can’t see her being able to play at her best for long enough to beat the Belarusian here.
Azarenka will rise to this challenge and look to make a point and I like the two-nil win for Vika here at 1.55.
Back Azarenka to beat Stephens 2-0 at 1.55
Back Muguruza to win set one vs Radwanska at 2.55