Sunday was a winning day in Bad Gastein, as my straight sets tip Yvonne Meusberger eased to the title in her home country with a 2-0 win over Andrea Hlavackova.
The WTA Tour makes the move to hard courts this week. with a Premier event in Stanford, California – the Bank of the West Classic. Serena Williams has won this title for the past two years, but she opted to play Bastad instead, so the top seed here is Aga Radwanska, with Maria Sharapova having withdrawn due to a hip injury. There’s no Marion Bartoli here either due to injury and the field isn’t great for a Premier event, with just Radwanska and Sam Stosur from the top 20 in the world.
Conditions in Stanford are generally regarded as being quite quick. Last year the big serving Coco Vandeweghe made the final as a lucky loser and she will suffer a big ranking drop if she fails to make an impact here this time around. I will be ignoring the tournament in Baku this week due to the extreme heat and unsuitable match times, but I would say that it’s worth backing a few outsiders there, where retirements could be plentiful.
Today’s main draw schedule in Stanford begins at 7.30pm UK time with Julia Goerges facing Olga Govortsova. Julia is always worth considering opposing as favourite: she has lost eight times already this season at today’s price of 1.45 or shorter and has been away in Portugal training after apparently overcoming the wrist issue that’s plagued her of late. Govortsova is on a four-match losing streak, but if I was betting in that one I’d be on her at 2.60.
But a wager I prefer is to side with former Stanford college player Mallory Burdette, who knows these conditions extremely well having played here for three seasons of college tennis. Her game was formed here and she should be too strong for veteran Fran Schiavone today.
Schiavone’s decent clay swing has made Burdette a backable 1.72 today but the Italian hasn’t won two straight matches at a hard court tournament since Brisbane at the start of 2012. She’s lost five of her seven hard court matches this season and although it will be an interesting match-up for the ball-bashing Burdette against the variety of Schiavone, the home player should take this one in quite quick conditions.
Sorana Cirstea is next against Ayumi Morita, who has been struggling with a wrist injury of late. But I would not be keen on backing Cirstea at today’s price of 1.52.
Madison Keys is also very short at 1.35 against Magdalena Rybarikova, while the late match at 5am UK time tomorrow features Kiki Bertens and Nicole Gibbs. Bertens has had major ankle problems lately and looks really out of sorts and lacking in court time, but that’s been factored in and Gibbs is too short at 1.58 considering her limitations.
Best bet: Back Burdette to beat Schiavone at 1.72