The 20th Venus versus Serena encounter turned out to be a disappointing non-event on Saturday in Charleston, as an exhausted Venus was unable to muster much in the way of energy against her younger sister. Anything less than full fitness isn’t going to give an opponent much of a chance against the world number one.
Jelena Jankovic may well be on the receiving end of another one-sided scoreline today when she takes on Williams in the Family Circle Cup final at around 6pm UK time. The Serb looked very tired towards the end of her semi-final win over Stefanie Voegele yesterday and the Swiss missed a good chance to make a final after letting a 2-0 final set lead turn into a 6-2 defeat. But Jankovic was at her barmy best, shouting at all and sundry and somehow she came through.
But after three very long matches here in Charleston on top of a semi-final run in Miami last week I’m not sure she’ll be competitive today against Williams, who has barely broken sweat this week on her return to the clay. Jankovic does have a decent record against Serena and won their only meeting on clay, but that was back in 2010 when the Serb was favourite. Things are different now with Jelena sitting at number 18 in the world rankings.
I can’t see Jankovic pushing the defending champion too hard today and the under 18.5 total games looks good in this one at around 1.78
I said yesterday that the Kerber v Maria Kirilenko clash would be a tight one and so it proved, with the German coming through by just eight points in the end to set up a second meeting this year between Kerber and Pavlyuchenkova.
The pair met in Brisbane in the first week of the season and A-Pavs won it in two tie breaks, but Kerber was below par at that point in the year and I would expect her to push harder today.
Pavlyuchenkova has a great record in this event though, winning here in 2010 and 2011 and she’ll be looking to do better than her most recent two appearances in finals, where she won a combined total of five games. The Russian was understandably beaten by Williams in Brisbane 6-2, 6-1, but the 6-1, 6-1 loss to Magdalena Rybarikova in Washington last year may haunt her.
Like today’s opponent, Kerber has only two titles to her name and she has also lost her last two finals - one to Na Li in Cincy last year and the other to Tamira Paszek on grass at Eastbourne. Given the Russian’s liking for this event the value has to be with A-Pavs in this one and backing her outright at around 3.0 or on the set handicap at 1.7 look the best options.
Back under 18.5 games in Williams vs. Jankovic at 1.78
Back Pavlyuchekova +1.5 sets to beat Kerber at 1.7