There was disappointment in Florianopolis on Thursday night as a dreadful performance from Jana Cepelova saw her beaten by Olga Puchkova. The 6-1, 6-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the full story of a truly awful tennis match in which Cepelova, who I can only assume was injured, failed to hold serve at all.
Puchkova was barely any better, serving at a 40% first serve mark with eight double faults and despite Cepelova calling her coach onto court and taking a medical timeout she just couldn’t find her range at all and sprayed the ball to all quarters.
Today’s WTA Florianopolis schedule sees Puchkova take on Venus Williams, who cruised past Magdalena Rybarikova, while Monica Niculescu faces Kiki Mladenovic. In Acapulco, top seed Sara Errani faces Alize Cornet, and Silvia Soler-Espinosa takes on fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
I don’t envisage anything other than wins for the favourites in Mexico and it’s worth considering the 2.06 about the 2-0 win for Suarez Navarro against an opponent that she hasn’t dropped a set against in four meetings.
But the match between Niculescu and Mladenovic is a fascinating one: it will be interesting to see how the big hitting Mladenovic deals with the unusual style of Niculescu. The forehand slice that the Romanian likes to utilise may not be to the liking of the French player, but if she can deal with the lack of pace coming at her she could make her quote of 2.35 look rather generous in the form she’s been in lately.
She defeated Julia Goerges, Petra Kvitova and Yanina Wickmayer in Paris, which kickstarted her current run of form. But having never faced Niculescu before it could take a while to figure out the strange technique coming at her from the opposite side of the net and she’ll need to be careful not to let the Romanian bamboozle her.
I think this one will go to a deciding set and backing the over 20.5 games at 1.82 looks a good bet.
Best bet: Back over 20.5 games in Niculescu vs Mladenovic at 1.82