The rain washed out many of the WTA matches in Washington DC on Wednesday night, but it came too late to save one of my wagers.
Mona Barthel had a poor night, making errors all over the place against a solid display from Andrea Petkovic. It was the same story really with Laura Robson, who had a bad night on serve and was beaten easily by Petra Kvitova.
There was play in Carlsbad, where defending champion Domi Cibulkova was defeated by Ana Ivanovic, while Vika Azarenka celebrated her birthday with a win over Fran Schiavone.
Thursday’s schedule of play in Washington features Heather Watson taking on Alize Cornet at around 7pm UK time. The Brit is tempting at 2.95 against the flaky French star, having been keen to profess how good she is feeling physically.
Combine that with Cornet’s poor record at this time of year and it’s even more tempting. Alize hasn’t been past the second round of any North American hard court event in this swing since 2008 and tends to perform better in the slower conditions of Miami and Indian Wells in the spring. The pair have never met on tour so far and Cornet looks short at 1.38. I much prefer the 1.80 about Watson to take a set here.
Alison Riske won her first ever hard-court match on the tour when she beat Vania King here this week. She has a shot as underdog against the erratic Sorana Cirstea tonight, as does Monica Niculescu against Madison Keys. It’s always a risk backing a big hitter at odds-on in their first match against Niculescu because her style is pretty much unique and she’ll try and get Keys off balance and expose her dodgy movement.
Conditions should suit Keys and if she gets her big game going she should win. But if you fancy a bit of a long shot today the 2-0 win for Niculescu is 4.40 and many’s the time that a ball basher has been given a lesson from Monica.
Another player with a slightly unusual game is defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova, who should progress at the expense of fellow Slovak Jana Cepelova. Rybarikova beat today’s opponent here 12 months ago and should achieve a similar result today. The Rybarikova 2-0 win at 1.78 looks good here.
Disappointingly, most of the chat in Carlsbad has been about the totally irrelevant return of Martina Hingis in doubles, but it does allow me to sneak in an interesting stat about her dubs partner Dani Hantuchova today. Dani takes on Aga Radwanska in singles tonight having not won at today’s price of 4.10 or above on a hard court in a completed match since beating Hingis herself in Doha back in 2007.
She’s certainly interesting at that price tonight, having landed a double bagel against the woeful Tamira Paszek already, while Aga is coming off a loss to Cibulkova and plays her first match tonight. The stats say she doesn't win at that sort of price though.
Back Watson +1.5 sets to beat Cornet at 1.80
Back Niculescu to beat Keys 2-0 at 4.40
Back Rybarikova to beat Cepelova 2-0 at 1.78