Thursday at the All England Club is Ladies’ Singles semi finals day of The Championships Wimbledon 2014.
And we arrive here after a couple of nice stress-free winners on Wednesday, with Simona Halep easily covering the handicap against Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard easing past Angelique Kerber in straight sets.
Play begins on Centre Court at around 13:00 UK time on Thursday, with an all-Czech affair.
Petra Kvitova vs Lucie Safarova
Semi finals of the Ladies’ Singles at Wimbledon in recent years have tended to follow the pattern of one routine straight sets win and one tight one and that looks set to continue in 2014.
Last year Marion Bartoli thrashed Kirsten Flipkens, while Lisicki edged Aga Radwanska 9-7 in the decider in the other semi final, and there was a similar story in 2009.
Generally, it’s been one three setter and a straight setter in recent times and surely the comfortable win will come in this one, with Kvitova holding all the aces against her compatriot Safarova.
This will be Lucie’s first major semi final and having watched her many times over the years she’s bound to be affected by nerves, while Petra will be playing her fifth and third here at Wimbledon.
She’s only won one of those though and obviously that was in 2011 when she won the Wimbledon title, but surely Petra will be too classy for the surprise package Safarova.
Lucie had never been past the third round here before this fortnight and she’d lost in round one on five occasions, but something seems to have clicked this year.
Admittedly, she’s had a comfortable draw, with three opponents from outside the top-50 and a highest rank beaten of 10 (Domi Cibulkova), but she’s yet to drop a set this fortnight.
Lucie has never beaten Kvitova in five attempts, but she should have done in Eastbourne the week before here when she lost in a final set tie breaker.
This is a different story though and I can see a repeat of the Flipkens semi last year when the Belgian froze and the minus 2.5 games in set one on Kvitova looks good here at 2.75 for that reason.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Simona Halep
This one should be the tough, tight affair that we usually see in one of the semi finals and the value looks to be with Bouchard here for me.
The Canadians have enjoyed their time at Wimbledon this year and I don’t see any reason why Genie’s attacking game can’t emerge victorious here in probably three sets.
She did what she had to do yesterday against a fatigued Kerber and Halep will no doubt be a tougher proposition, but I think the grass suits Bouchard just a little better than it does the Romanian.
Lisicki showed yesterday before she faded badly that you can get on top of Halep in these conditions with attacking play and that’s what we’ll see from Genie today.
For me, this one has three sets written all over it and that bet is available at 2.30 and seems a good choice, but I also like the 4.90 about a 2-1 win for Bouchard here.
Halep, for all of her successes over the last year or so, is yet to prove herself on the biggest of stages and, although she may well do that today, there’s enough doubt to take her on in today’s circumstances.
I can’t see either of these two winning in two sets, so for me it’s the three sets or Bouchard 2-1 bets that stand out.
Back Kvitova –2.5 games in set one at 2.75
Back Bouchard to beat 2-1 at 4.90