The semi-finals in Charleston and Monterrey take place this evening, with the highlight undoubtedly being a first clash of the Williams sisters since 2009.
Serena and Venus face off for the 20th time in a series that the former leads 13-6. The younger sister has won the last four but it will be only their second ever meeting on clay. Their only match on this surface until now was the French Open final of 2002, which Serena won in straight sets. Much has happened since then of course and in 2013 Serena is around 1.10 to win today, which is clearly worth avoiding.
It can’t be easy for the pair to play each other and my cynical mind is cooking up all sorts of conspiracy theories around this one, which leads me to side with Venus in what will be one of last meetings between them on tour.
Serena hasn’t been at her best this week in Charleston, but she hasn’t really needed to be so far, while Venus has been pretty good. There’s no value whatsoever in backing Serena and one feels that she wouldn’t be overly concerned about losing to Venus today. Venus does still have the game and if she does turn it on there are far worse 7.0 shots around today than this. Serena should win of course, but the value clearly lies with the outsider under these unique circumstances.
The other three matches today are not far off 50/50 calls, with Jelena Jankovic taking on Stefanie Voegele, who enjoyed a good win over Caroline Wozniacki on Friday. Jankovic and Voegele have never played each other on the tour, and this one could well go long. The overs is worth considering.
Over in Mexico there is also a first meeting between Angelique Kerber and Maria Kirilenko, while Nastia Pavlyuchenkova takes on the unique talents of Monica Niculescu in the other semi-final. A-Pavs has the latter match on her racquet, but it depends on whether or not she turns up. She defeated the Romanian in their only career meeting thus far, but that was way back in 2008.
If the Russian is to win this one I think it will be convincing, so the 2-0 Pavs win at around 3.05 is the most appealing bet in that one. Whoever’s terms this match is played on will probably win 2-0, as their styles are so different, but for me the value bet is to take a chance on the Russian hitting top gear.
The Kirilenko/Kerber clash is very interesting, as these two have never met before. Although I slightly favour Kirilenko in this match it could well be a tight one and I’d want a bigger price than 1.96 about the Russian.
Kerber has been below par this season, largely due to injury, and although she’s showing signs of a recovery I’m not too sure that she’s operating at 100% capacity due to the back issue she’s had. Kirilenko is more than capable of taking advantage, although she has lost three of her last four to left handers. With it being the first meeting between the two I don’t see much value in backing her today.
Back Venus Williams at 7.0 to beat Serena Williams
Back Pavlyuchenkova to beat Niculescu 2-0 at 3.05