Both Vika Azarenka and Sam Stosur withdrew from the 2013 BNP Paribas Open due to injury yesterday. As I said yesterday, Azarenka had been struggling all week with an ankle injury on top of a cold so it was no real surprise that she pulled out, especially considering her career record of 26 retirements and withdrawals. Taking into account that she’s still only 23 years old, it quite shocking really.
Stosur’s withdrawal was related to a calf injury that she sustained in the final game of her previous match against Mona Barthel. By way of comparison, the Aussie, who will be 29 at the end of this month, has just three retirements and withdrawals in her career so far.
Today’s play, assuming everyone is fit to participate, sees Angelique Kerber take on Caroline Wozniacki at 1.30am UK time, followed by the battle of the two Russian Marias - Sharapova and Kirilenko.
Kirilenko was flat out courtside for some time in her previous match against Petra Kvitova and only one of those bizarre moments where Kvitova couldn’t find the court allowed Kirilenko through to this stage of the tournament. Hopefully, we won’t see a repeat of what happened previously between the Marias - Kirilenko was once given a warning for hindrance after tapping her racquet on the ground as Sharapova was about to hit a winner.
I’d expect Sharapova to come through that. She’ll be looking to overtake Azarenka as world number two on Monday, which should be enough incentive for her to get the better of Kirilenko tonight.
But in the other match I have to side with Kerber as underdog against Wozniacki now that the German seems to have recovered from a recent back problem. She has won the last three against Wozniacki, including the final of Copenhagen on the Dane’s home turf, and she’ll take a mental advantage into the match tonight.
Wozniacki has done little of late to be rated as favourite for this. She’s lost three of her last four against left handers and seven of her last nine against top 10 opponents, so for me it makes sense to side with Kerber in this one at around 2.0.
Best bet: Back Kerber to beat Wozniacki at 2.0