French Open Women's Betting: Watson To Take At Least a Set Off Halep

Wednesday at the French Open 2014 was one of those days of grand slam tennis that will be remembered for quite a while.

After number two seed Na Li suffered a shock defeat a few days ago we lost our number one ranked player Serena Williams to a stunning 6-2, 6-2 success for Garbine Muguruza.

I said yesterday in this column that Serena and Venus’s matches “may not be as easy as is assumed by the short prices on both sisters,” but I didn’t expect both to lose and certainly not Serena in such a fashion.

Muguruza taking a set was always a possibility, but the Spaniard thrashed the American to blow the draw wide open in both halves.

It was a stunning day all round, as Flavia Pennetta lost from 7-5, 3-0 up to Johann Larsson, while my tip Varvara Lepchenko blew four set points against Angelique Kerber in the only set she needed for my bet. The American also had points for a 5-1 lead in that set.

The carnage didn’t end there, as Sabine Lisicki injured her wrist and retired, while Alizé Cornet was beaten by Taylor Townsend.

Quite a day all told and the first time in the Open era that the number one and two seeds were beaten before the third round of a grand slam.


Heather Watson vs Simona Halep

Could this be the next upset, when Britain’s in-form Watson takes on number four seed Halep.

Watson has been in rare form of late after a new coaching regime led to a more attacking approach and the improvement has largely come on the forehand side, which is now more of a weapon.

Since working with Diego Veronelli and overcoming the health problems she had a year ago Watson has been steadily working her way back up the rankings and she’s on a nice run right now after capturing a title in Prague and qualifying here.

It’s a tall order for her to win today, but she can certainly make Halep work on her best form, with the Romanian perhaps a little undercooked coming into this.

Halep has just the one match under her belt since skipping Rome with an abdominal injury and she wasn’t tested by Alisa Kleybanova in round one.

Watson took a set from Halep in their only career meeting on hard courts last season and although this is on Halep’s preferred clay both players have improved since then and it will be interesting to see how much in Watson’s case.

The 2.80 about her winning a set again looks the bet.


Maria Teresa Torro-Flor vs Magdalena Rybarikova

This one should be a case of the clay courter against the non-clay courter, with MTTF a good favourite for this 11:00 UK time clash with the rangy Slovak.

Rybarikova is far from comfortable on clay and she doesn’t have anything like the weapons to hit through this stodgy, damp clay that we are seeing this week.

She’s admitted to having “minimal training” on clay ahead of this tournament and is in this round thanks to a retirement from Urszula Radwanska in the first round.

U-Rad has really been struggling after injury and had lost 10 of her previous 11 before that match with Ryabrikova, which was into a third when the Pole retired and Rybarikova I suspect will be pleased to have made it into round two.

She’s more much at home on the grass and hard courts and will be looking forward to the former and I don’t expect much fight from her today.

MTTF had a good win over the dangerous Klara Koukalova in round one and she has enough power to make this a reasonably comfortable win.

The minus 3.5 games at 1.80 looks the bet in this one.

Elsewhere, surely Kiki Mladenovic will back up her win over Na Li with another over Alison Riske, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova looks good as an underdog against Kiki Bertens.

At a very big price I wouldn’t count out Coco Vandeweghe against Kate Makarova, who’s been struggling with illness lately, while Sloane Stephens looks a backable price against Polona Hercog.


Best Bets

Back Watson +1.5 sets to beat Halep at 2.80

Back Torro-Flor –3.5 games to beat Rybarikova at 1.80