Tuesday night in California yielded one winner from my two wagers at the Bank of the West Classic.
Dani Hantuchova easily covered the handicap against Yanina Wickmayer, who obligingly fell apart and suffered a bagel in the final set after a typical Dani dip allowed the Belgian back in it in set two.
There was real disappointment for a number of punters earlier when Marina Erakovic threw in a real shocker against Vera Dushevina out on Court 6 with no spectators and a pre-match gamble on the Kiwi was sunk without trace.
Elsewhere, number two seed Sam Stosur was beaten and, as predicted, Coco Vandeweghe put in a performance that blew Monica Niculsecu off court.
There are just three singles matches on the schedule for tonight in Stanford, with Vandeweghe in action again at around 10pm UK time taking on the erratic talents of Sorana Cirstea.
They’ve met twice in the past on hard courts and it’s one win apiece, with Coco’s success coming here in California at the Carlsbad event in 2011. Conditions are a touch slower there, but it is fair to say the California resident plays her best tennis in familiar surroundings.
Cirstea, as ever, remains an enigma and may have benefitted from a tough training schedule with Andre Agassi’s former fitness coach Gil Reyes. But this one will be a big-hitting battle and whoever gets the first strike in with more regularity should win, unless the errors flow from either player. A tough one to call, but the value lies with Vandeweghe here at 2.30 for me.
The first match on the schedule at 8pm UK time features the seemingly always injured Tamira Paszek, who takes on American leftie Varvara Lepchenko in what will be their fifth career meeting.
Three of their four clashes have gone the full three sets but they haven’t played since last autumn, when Lepchenko won in three on hard in Seoul, where it was quick, warm and humid.
Paszek is another who professes to “love this tournament”, but the reality is that she defeated an opponent who was struggling with her health in the first round here and, interestingly, she hasn’t played a lefty since that match with Lepchenko in Seoul.
Lepchenko hasn’t won two straight matches at any tournament since that Seoul run to the semi finals, but Paszek’s win over Alla Kudryatseva (by retirement) was her second in the main draw all year and her first since January. Lepchenko should win this, but it holds little betting appeal to me.
Finally, number one seed Aga Radwanska takes on Fran Schiavone at 3am UK time and if you’re staying up late for this one, surely the Polish pusher will prevail.
Schiavone withdrew from the doubles here this week with a viral complaint and her record on hard courts is poor. Aga was last seen offering a perfunctory handshake to Sabine Lisicki after her Wimbledon loss to the German and this is her first match on a hard court since Miami, but her hard court record this season has been excellent so far.
She has beaten Schiavone comfortably in their last three encounters and Aga just doesn’t lose to players outside the top 20 on hard courts these days. Her last such defeat (that didn’t involve a retirement) came in 2011 to Petra Cetkovska and the -5.5 game handicap is the most appealing option in that one at 1.75.
Best Bet: Back Vandeweghe to beat Cirstea at 2.30