The world’s top female tennis stars have reached the business end of proceedings in Beijing, as the quarter-finals of the China Open take place on Friday.
Yesterday’s bets went one from two, as Aga Radwanska was a comfortable two set winner over Polona Hercog, for whom the match-up, as I indicated yesterday, was a poor one. Aga’s variety was too much for a player like Hercog, who likes to stay back and hit winners.
My second wager looked good too for a while, as Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens had a real battle in set one of their match. Ultimately the Dane proved too solid and Stephens was forced to go for too much, leading to 51 unforced errors from her racquet.
Play begins at 5.30am UK time on Friday, with Jelena Jankovic once again getting the early start, this time against Lucie Safarova, while Na Li and Petra Kvitova face off at around 8am UK time in what should be a high quality affair.
Serena Williams vs Caroline Wozniacki
This will be the seventh meeting between this pair of current former world number ones and it should start at around 10am UK time, depending on how long Na Li and Kvitova takes.
It’s a classic clash of styles, with the all out attack and pure power of Williams facing the dogged defensive skills and athleticism of Wozniacki. In normal circumstances the former would come out on top, as it has on six of the seven past encounters. But Williams hasn’t looked quite the ticket all week here in Beijing and she’s been complaining of various physical ailments and was seen in tears after practise on Wednesday.
Her tennis hasn’t been great so far, with laboured wins over Fran Schiavone and Maria Kirilenko – both of whom she’d usually crush, which indicates all isn’t well just now.
Woz enjoys conditions here, where it is slow and someone is going to have to play well to get the ball past her. She’s clearly been working on her fitness, as she looks slimmer to me and this can only aid her cause, although it won’t help her non-existent forehand. This may be tough for Williams if she’s not feeling great and I like the chances on Wozniacki with a 1.5 set start at 2.60.
Agnieszka Radwanska vs Angelique Kerber
Asia is a familiar meeting point for these two, who have met over the net four times in the Far East from their seven career matches. The most recent one was only last week in Tokyo, where the quicker conditions assisted Kerber to a 6-4, 6-4 win over the Pole.
Their head-to-head series is rather tough to evaluate though, with three of their last four matches coming in Tokyo, but results have been wildly different each time. Last week in Japan Aga looked very jaded and wasn’t overly competitive. Radwanska has played a fair few matches more than Kerber this season – 77 in total, while Kerber has played 60 and it is the German who looks in the better form of the two right now after a pretty indifferent season so far.
She swept aside another all-court, tactical player in Roberta Vinci on Thursday and if she adopts similar tactics of being aggressive she could achieve the same result she did last week.
Conditions are different here in Beijing though, which will aid Radwanska, so it’s a tough one to call. Motivation may edge this one Kerber’s way, as she still needs ranking points to make the year end championships and I think it’s worth taking a chance on the 2-1 Kerber win at 4.90.
Back Wozniacki +1.5 sets to beat Williams at 2.60
Back Kerber to beat Radwanska 2-1 at 4.90
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