Petra Kvitova will struggle to justify her status as favourite against the dangerous Svetlana Kuznetsova, writes Sean Calvert...
After an exhausting day of tennis watching on Sunday, the BNP Paribas Open resumes on Monday, with eight third round matches on the schedule at Indian Wells.
Those poor souls who, like myself, were forced to sit through nigh on three-and-a-half hours of attritional tennis between Carla Suarez Navarro and Alizé Cornet were left speechless and penniless when the Spaniard blew three straight match points and went on to make us suffer for another painful set.
At least Eugenie Bouchard restored some order with a comfortable win over Sara Errani, but I chose the wrong wager for my last one, as Lauren Davis won in two while Annika Beck suffered a rather harsh double bagel from Aga Radwanska.
Dominika Cibulkova 1.52, Ekaterina Makarova 2.45 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 00.05 GMT
This match seems like a very decent opportunity for Makarova to make progress at a Premier Mandatory at the expense of Australian Open finalist Cibulkova.
Domi will find conditions very different here at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to Melbourne, with slower courts, a higher bounce and that will count against both her flat hitting and lack of height.
I always feel that the smaller players are at a disadvantage here, as they often have to play heavily spun shots up around their shoulders as the ball rises off the gritty surface and Domi’s poor record at Indian Wells lends credence to that belief.
The Slovak’s good recent form and 2-0 head-to-head over Makarova lead to favouritism for Cibulkova here, but both previous matches were close, with the most recent being decided on a tie break in quicker conditions than these in Sydney last year.
The +3.5 games on the Russian looks decent here at 1.78.
Svetlana Kuznetsova 3.05, Petra Kvitova 1.35 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 21.35 GMT
Another Russian underdog who could have a good day today is Sveta, whose game is much more suited to conditions here than Kvitova, who prefers a quicker, slicker surface.
Sveta seems to be constantly plagued by injuries and this season has been no different, with a left hip problem limiting her to just three completed matches this season before a win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round here this week.
Kuznetsova has a 22-10 record here, with two straight runs to the final in 2007 and 2008 and the similarity of conditions here to clay suits her, with her kick serve and top-spin forehand aided by the surface.
Kvitova’s record at Indian Wells isn’t the best, with a quarter-final showing 12 months ago being her best finish and a win over the pretty poor Coco Vandeweghe in her first match here this year tells us little about her form.
I can’t see this being a straight sets win for Kvitova by any means and the 3.05 about Sveta to win or the 1.75 about her winning a set look worthy of consideration.
Elsewhere, Kuznetsova’s doubles partner Sam Stosur’s game should also be suited by conditions here in the desert, with her kick serve and forehand aided by the surface, but her 0-5 record against today’s opponent Flavia Pennetta puts me off a decent bet on the Aussie.
Something tells me that today might be the day for her to break that hoodoo against the Italian though and the 1.94 about Stosur is worth thinking about.
Back Makarova +3.5 games to beat Cibulkova at 1.78
Back Kuznetsova +1.5 sets to beat Kvitova at 1.75