The WTA China Open’s third round matches conclude on Thursday morning in Beijing, with a host of top stars on show.
Serena Williams again gets an early berth at 5.30am UK time and should have few problems dispensing with Maria Kirilenko, who’s been suffering with injury of late.
Also playing in the early slot is Jelena Jankovic, who faces a tricky clash with Carla Suarez Navarro and that’s followed by a pick ‘em between Lucie Safarova and Andrea Petkovic. At 8am UK time Angelique Kerber takes on Roberta Vinci in a winnable match for the in-form German, while Carolina Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Aga Radwanska and Polona Hercog contest the late matches.
It was one winner from my two bets yesterday, as Na Li and Sabine Lisicki went past the total games mark, while Petra Kvitova fell a single game short of landing the handicap against Sara Errani.
Polona Hercog vs Agnieszka Radwanska
Hercog deservedly takes her place in the round of 16 after a fine win over Ana Ivanovic in which the Slovenian didn’t face a break point.
Polona has been in good nick lately and has had good wins over Dominika Cibulkova, Kirsten Flipkens and now Ivanovic in recent months. She does lack somewhat in the movement and athleticism department though and that is surely what the queen of variety will be looking to take advantage of when this match begins at around 10am UK time.
It will be the first meeting between the two and if her match against Madison Keys is anything to go by we will be seeing all of the tricks come out again from Aga. The Pole was aided in that victory over Keys by a severe lack of patience from the American and I expect we’ll see something similar again from Hercog.
Radwanska is likely to have too much variety for Polona here, despite looking less than 100% fit with strapping on her shoulder, but this is pretty much the norm for Aga these days. I like the Radwanska minus 1.5 sets here at 1.70.
Sloane Stephens vs Caroline Wozniacki
This third meeting in the career series between the American and the Dane is set for around 12.30pm UK time and I suspect it will be a little tighter than their previous two, both of which went the way of Wozniacki. The pair have a similar style of game, although Stephens has a little more pop on the serve and her forehand is better than Caro’s, which wouldn’t be difficult in truth.
Wozniacki has the more reliable and penetrating backhand and both are good athletes, so this one could be quite a lengthy affair. Stephens had to overcome another test from Eugenie Bouchard in the previous round here in Beijing, while Wozniacki had little to trouble her from the junk coming off Monica Niculsecu’s racquet.
I expect this match to be a real grind and although Wozniacki might just edge it, it’s a close call and the overs at 21.5 total games at 1.95 is the bet here.
Back Radwanska –1.5 sets to beat Hercog at 1.70
Back over 21.5 total games in Stephens/Wozniacki at 1.95