The Women’s Singles in the 2014 Australian Open has reached the fourth round stage, and the first four matches take place at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
Conditions are expected to continue to be cool now that the heatwave has passed, and Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will both try for a quarter final spot on Sunday.
Saturday's bets went one from two when Domi Cibulkova breezed past Carla Suarez-Navarro for the loss of just one game, while Caroline Wozniacki was beaten from a set ahead by talented youngster Garbine Muguruza in what was some effort from the Spaniard given the amount of matches she's played lately.
Serena Williams 1.06 v Ana Ivanovic 10.00
The world No. 1 was not in great shape in her most recent match here, with a laboured win over Dani Hantuchova being put down to illness. Williams didn’t face the TV media after that match as she was claiming dizziness which could easily be put down to the heat.
We have seen this before from Williams and doubtless she’ll be much more fit and focussed for the challenge of Ivanovic, who is in good form right now and who enjoyed a great win over Sam Stosur last time out.
The forehand was the key to that win, with the Serb hitting it accurately and with decent power, but she’ll need to do that again and more if she’s to beat Serena, or even grab a set for the very first time.
The pair have met four times – three of them at the US Open – and Ana has been beaten 2-0 in each, but if Serena does have a wobble then Ana should cause her more problems than Hantuchova managed. A more likely outcome though is Williams to win minus 5.5 games at 1.50.
Casey Dellaqua 2.80 v Eugenie Bouchard 1.40
The Aussie has enjoyed a charmed run here this fortnight after defeating two players that were barely able to walk or see properly because of the extreme heat in Kirsten Flipkens and Jie Zheng, and now that the temperature has dropped I expect normal service to be resumed.
Bouchard meanwhile has done all she has needed to do in a section of the draw that has opened up nicely for her, and now she’s past that dangerously hot weather this match is very winnable for the Canadian.
She has lost four of her last five to lefties, such as Dellaqua, but they were far classier operators like Petra Kvitova, Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova and Lucie Safarova, and this is a test that Bouchard is more than capable of handling.
The pair have never met on tour before, but I’m leaning towards a 2-0 win or minus 3.5 games on the handicap for the improving Canadian, who enjoys the courts here and should make the quarters with a little to spare.
Angelique Kerber 1.50 v Flavia Pennetta 2.50
This could well prove to be the toughest test of a favourite in the women’s draw on Sunday, with Kerber no cert at 1.50.
The pair have met on four previous occasions with the score tied at 2-2, and the German has never been able to take down the Italian in straight sets so far.
Indeed, their last meeting on a hard court was won easily by Pennetta and I get the feeling that this one will go to a decider or two close sets, so the over 20.5 games appeals here at 1.83.
Flavia came into this tournament with a wrist problem, but she says that’s righted itself and she’s playing pain free, which is great for her and she should be able to give this a go with no pressure on at all.
Li Na 1.26 v Ekaterina Makarova 3.70
Li came within a couple of centimetres of going out of the tournament to a leftie when Safarova narrowly missed against her on match point, and she’ll be relieved to even be here after finally overcoming the Czech in that one.
Now she faces another leftie in Makarova, who is a tricky opponent if on her game as Li will ascertain to after being pushed close by the Russian in three of their four previous meetings.
Their last clash, which was in New York last season, was another three-setter and Li will need to be on her game and not have one of her usual lapses to win this one as comfortably as her price of 1.26 suggests.
Both players have appeared to struggle in the heat and Makarova admitted as much after a bit of a struggle of a win over Monica Niculescu, but she’ll be out for revenge after that US Open match and backing the Russian with a 1.5 set start appeals here at 1.94.
Back Bouchard –3.5 games to beat Dellaqua at 1.75
Back over 20.5 games in Kerber/Pennetta at 1.83