Victoria Azarenka’s three-set victory over Serena Williams in Doha on Sunday made it six winners from seven bets at the Qatar Total Open last week. My recommended wager of backing over 2.5 sets at 2.60 proved profitable when an up-and-down encounter went to a decider.
The WTA Tour makes the short journey to Dubai this week for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships – a $2 million prize fund WTA Premier event where Aga Radwanska is the defending champion. The draw this year sees eight of the top 10 ranked players in the world, with Na Li and Maria Sharapova the missing two.
In this event last year there were nine winning favourites from 12 in the first round. Two that should get off to winning starts on Monday are Laura Robson and Ana Ivanovic, both of whom are priced up at around the 1.37 mark.
Ivanovic is first on court at around 3pm UK time against Nastia Pavlyuchenkova - against whom she has a good record. A-Pavs began the year in good style by reaching the final in Brisbane, but she hasn’t won a match since and her erratic hitting hasn’t been able to put much of a dent in Ivanovic’s more consistent game in the past.
Ana’s form has been good enough of late for me to have faith in her to take down Pavlyuchenkova in this one, although it could be fairly tight.
Robson takes on Yulia Putintseva, and these two teenagers will be meeting for the first time since the second round of the Australian Open juniors back in 2010. Laura won that day and although she’s been in patchy form lately it would be a surprise if she wasn’t able to beat the world number 97 today. This could be another that’s closer than some would think, though.
Putintseva has been producing some solid results lately - reaching finals in Dubai and Nantes - and she’s performed well at a higher level this season too. But Robson should be too good for her fellow wildcard today.
Best bet: Back Ivanovic and Robson in a double at 1.86