The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships continued to confound yesterday. Despite picking three winners from four matches, the one I had chosen as my best bet was the only one that lost. This time it was the tennis brain of Nadia Petrova that went AWOL against the basic pushing of Sara Errani. The Russian converted just five of her 22 break point chances and despite hammering the Italian 6-0 in set two she allowed Errani to bamboozle her into too many unforced errors.
As predicted, Roberta Vinci took down Sam Stosur to set up an all-Italian semi-final that no one would have predicted in these quick conditions. Unless there are injury concerns I’m not too sure how Vinci can be favourite against her friend/coach/doubles partner. I’ve been waiting for Errani to lose all week, but she does have a very good recent record against Vinci and I’m leaving that one well alone.
But I would expect Petra Kvitova to restore some sort of order to this event by beating another defensive pusher in Caroline Wozniacki this afternoon. They are meeting for the eighth time in all competitions and Kvitova has won the most recent three matches between the pair. Two of Wozniacki’s three wins came on clay in 2009 and 2010.
Conditions clearly suit Kvitova and I would expect Caro to have to call upon the services of her father Piotr on a regular basis this afternoon as she struggles to deal with the power of the Czech.
It’s worth putting Kvitova at 1.52 in a cross tournament double with Sabine Lisicki, who is 1.38 to beat the limited Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in Memphis tonight. Lisicki has lost only three matches this year – one to Vika Azarenka and two fairly huge chokes against Wozniacki in Melbourne and Maria Kirilenko in Pattaya City.
I doubt she’ll suffer with nerves against the lanky Rybarikova today, though, having already beaten Madison Keys and Kiki Mladenovic this week and with the added bonus of playing a fatigued opponent. Rybarikova eventually overcame Kirsten Flipkens after two hours and 41 minutes and she won’t relish chasing down Lisicki’s bullets today.
Best bet: Back Kvitova and Lisicki in a double at 2.10