Thursday at the Portugal Open brought a winning bet when Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won the all-Russian affair with Elena Vesnina in a deciding set tie-break. Friday’s semi-finals begin at 10.25am when Romina Oprandi faces Pavlyuchenkova for the first time, before Carla Suarez Navarro takes on Kaia Kanepi. Both of these matches feature power versus guile to a certain extent and are priced up as pretty even.
The Kanepi vs Suarez Navarro clash is a repeat of last year’s final in Estoril, when Kanepi won a tight three-setter. But the Spaniard is marginal favourite on this occasion. Neither player has dropped a set so far this week in Portugal, but I’m slightly favouring the Estonian in what could well be a tough battle.
Suarez Navarro has played more tennis than Kanepi and travelled further over the last few weeks and Kaia could easily take advantage of any drop in physical level from the Spaniard today. It’s essentially a pick ‘em game and I’ll side with the Estonian’s bigger hitting to prevail at 1.94
Oprandi has been impressive this week in dealing with some powerful hitters in Kiki Bertens and Sveta Kuznetsova and she faces a similar sort of challenge today in Pavlyuchenkova. The Swiss is favourite for this at around 1.78, based on her results here and the possibility that her opponent is tired after playing for almost three hours yesterday.
However, it is Oprandi’s first semi-final since s’Hertogenbosch on the grass in 2011 and she’s yet to win a set in a WTA Tour level semi. Nerves will likely play a part and I wouldn’t like to be on her as a favourite today.
Best bet: Back Kanepi to beat Suarez Navarro at 1.94