Saturday at the 2013 Internazionali BNL d’Italia was another successful one for WTA betting as my best bet proved to be a winner. My wager on fewer than 8.5 total games in the second set of Serena Williams vs Simona Halep was spot on, as Williams took it 6-0 for a comfortable success.
And those betting in the other ladies semi-final would have profitted from my advice of siding with Vika Azarenka minus 4.5 games on the handicap. She also dished out a bagel in a 6-0, 7-5 win over Sara Errani.
Sunday’s WTA final sees Williams and Azarenka facing off for the 15th time in a series that the American leads 12-2. But this will be only their second ever meeting on clay after the Madrid final last year that Serena won 6-1, 6-3.
The good news for Azarenka backers is that she won the most recent encounter between the pair - in Doha in February - but that’s all she has going for her today in my view. Her only WTA Tour title on clay came at a minor event in Marbella in 2011 and I can’t see that particular stat changing on Sunday afternoon.
Serena has certainly made serene progress through this tournament, dropping just ten games in total, and she’ll be hungry to land this Rome title for the first time since 2002. Indeed, Williams did the Rome/Roland Garros double that year, but she hasn’t won either tournament since.
Vika isn’t as effective on the red dirt as she is on hard and it’s very tough to make a confident case for her causing an upset today. I like the Williams –4.5 games on the handicap in this one. For me, the best that the Belarusian can hope for is to take a set today. That’s certainly a possibility, with the Azarenka +1.5 sets available at 2.04, but I see no reason to believe that Vika will get too close to this title.
Williams hasn’t lost a tour-level final on clay since losing to Justine Henin in Charleston in 2003 and has won her last five straight, while that win in Marbella is Vika’s only success in six tour-level clay court finals. This one is headed the way of Williams in my view and it should be by 4.5 games and quite possibly more, so I’m taking the handicap as my wager today.
Best bet: Back Williams –4.5 games to beat Azarenka at 1.73