The third round of matches in the 2014 US Open Ladies Singles begins on Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York.
We’re down to the last 32 standing and among the stars on show at Flushing Meadows today are Simona Halep, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki.
Thursday’s bets went one from two, with Marina Erakovic losing in a peculiar three setter to Elena Vesnina that featured over 90 unforced errors, before Nicole Gibbs redressed the balance somewhat with a very comfortable handicap win over Nastia Pavlyuchenkova.
Indeed, Gibbs didn’t need the handicap and could have won it in two sets, but she did it in three in the end and those who trusted her slightly more than me would have enjoyed a nice winner on the match odds there.
It won’t be quite as hot today, with the dial set to fall to the mid 20s and the wind at no more than a breeze at 5mph.
Venus Williams vs Sara Errani
No prizes for guessing where I’m going with this 18:00 UK time start and it’s for a comfortable victory for Venus, who has been playing the kind of tennis lately that should destroy Errani.
It’s been good this summer to see the 34-year-old seemingly free of the physical issues that have held her back so much in recent years and if she’s anywhere near her best she wins this match comfortably.
Williams had an awkward opener against Kimiko Date-Krumm, who came to play and it took a while for the American to find her range there, but she followed that up by beating Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets.
This is Venus’s first time in round three since 2010 and unless she has a nightmare day for whatever reason I can’t see the feeble Italian having anything in her game to concern Williams.
The American has a 3-0 match record over Errani, who has never taken four games off Venus in any of their sets so far, and in these conditions I don’t see that changing.
The Williams minus 4.5 games at 1.97 seems very reasonable to me and is my opening bet of the day.
Wozniacki is rather short at 1.28 to beat Andrea Petkovic and others who are a little on the skinny side include Shuai Peng at 1.58 against Roberta Vinci and Lucie Safarova at 1.53 against Alizé Cornet in matches they could easily all lose.
Maria Sharapova vs Sabine Lisicki
Considering how poorly Sharapova has started a number of her matches this season there has to be a case made for siding with Lisicki to win set one at odds of around 3.45 in the 02:00 UK time match.
Sharapova had to fight back against a tiring Alexandra Dulgheru in her second round match and she’s dropped the opener on at least one occasion in each event she’s played since Rome.
The Russian sugary sweet peddler does have a 5-1 career lead over hit and miss German Lisicki, but she’s appeared vulnerable early so often of late that it makes me suspect that she could be again versus the power of Lisicki.
Sabine was very good in her second round win over the admittedly limited Madison Brengle and if she clicks into gear with her serve early she has a fine chance of taking the opener.
I’m not sure I would trust Lisicki to come away with the win here, such is her erratic play and questionable temperament, and if it turns into a dog fight I can only see one winner, which makes the 2-1 to Sharapova at 3.90 another option to consider.
Elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if Belinda Bencic gave Angelique Kerber a real test and the German will have to up her game if she wants to cover a 4.5 game handicap in this one.
Back Williams –4.5 games to beat Errani at 1.97
Back Lisicki to win set one vs Sharapova at 3.45