The wind and rain came to Toronto on Wednesday, but it didn’t affect proceedings too badly as two of my three best bets were winners in the 2013 Rogers Cup.
Sloane Stephens edged past her handicap mark of minus 2.5 games against Mona Barthel in a three set battle, while Roberta Vinci found things a whole lot easier against Ekaterina Makarova, who she defeated in straight sets. Unfortunately, Varvara Lepchenko was unable to make it a hat trick, as she was beaten by the seemingly indefatigable Magdalena Rybarikova.
Serena Williams came through her first match last night in a patchy display against Fran Schiavone and she faces another crafty opponent at 7.30pm UK time tonight in Kirsten Flipkens, who defeated a poor Venus Williams in round one. Serena should win this against an opponent who has been struggling with injury, but there doesn’t seem much value in the market here.
Rybarikova vs Marion Bartoli is an interesting one, with a touch of value on the Slovak, but surely she must be due a physical let down very soon and the Wimbledon champion looked fit and fresh yesterday against the tiny Lauren Davis. I don’t see much value on Bartoli here with Rybarikova in the form of her life.
Stephens has pushed Aga Radwanska in their two career meetings and taken a set on both occasions, which makes 4.40 for the American an interesting one. The handicap markets might be the way to go in this one.
But the bet of the day for me has to be to take the generous-looking 1.83 for defending champion Petra Kvitova to defeat Sam Stosur in the late match at around midnight UK time tonight.
Stosur is coming off the back of a good title win last week in Carlsbad but has struggled her way through to this stage with shaky wins over very average opposition, which indicates to me an element of fatigue. In any case this a good match-up for the tall left-handed Kvitova, who is able to nullify Sam’s main weapon - the kick serve.
Petra has won all three of their previous meetings on hard courts and we know she’s motivated here, as she needs to defend ranking points ahead of the US Open. She began impressively last night in a comfortable win over Eugenie Bouchard and, all told, Kvitova looks a good bet to me.
Vinci’s reward for taking care of Makarova is a meeting with one of her favourite opponents in Domi Cibulkova, who the Italian has beaten in their last five matches on fast clay, slow hard, grass and quickish hard, so the match-up looks a good one for the Italian. Vinci is 1.80 and that looks fair enough to me.
Ana Ivanovic looked to be struggling physically last night and in any event I would fancy the chances of her opponent Li Na tonight. The Chinese player’s hard court form makes much better reading than the Serb’s and I’d expect her to prevail in what, surprisingly, will be only their second meeting after their first ended in retirement in 2006.
Ana has a poor recent record against top 10 opponents, with three wins from her last 17 matches and Li minus 3.5 games looks good here at 1.92.
Back Kvitova to beat Stosur at 1.83
Back Vinci to beat Cibulkova at 1.80
Back Na Li -3.5 games to beat Ivanovic at 1.92