The final of this week’s Premier event on the WTA Tour – the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, USA is the main feature of the day on Sunday.
And with no Williams sisters or any of the other top-13 seeds having made it this far, we have unseeded Jana Cepelova and number-14 seed Andrea Petkovic trying to extend their unbeaten records in this tournament.
Jana Cepelova 3.25 vs Andrea Petkovic 1.32 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 18.05
For Petkovic, this week has been a most welcome return to competing at the business end of big tournaments again – for the first time since she suffered a series of injuries in 2012.
The German has overcome back, knee and ankle injuries to make her first Premier level final since Beijing on hard courts in October 2011, when she lost to Aga Radwanska, and her run this week has already seen her jump 11 places in the rankings and back inside the world’s top-30.
Should she win today, Petko will rise another place to number 28 and after taking down my bet on Eugenie Bouchard in the semi-finals yesterday she looks a solid favourite to land her first title on the main tour since Strasbourg back in that pre-injury era in 2011.
Andrea’s comeback after losing the opener 6-1 to Bouchard yesterday was built around playing the big points better and in a match that either player could have won Petko took the last four points of the match on Genie’s serve to seal the victory.
Cepelova, meanwhile, has had to do things the hard way this week and it’s showing in her physical condition, which looks as if it will be very much below par today.
I have said that before during this week and the Slovak keeps on grinding out results, which was what she did yesterday in a 9-7 final set tie break win over 17-year-old Belinda Bencic, whose racquet bore the brunt of her frustrations.
Jana won three points fewer than her opponent in that match, but the 20-year-old kept her composure a little better than the teenaged prospect when it mattered and she now makes her first Premier level final and first tour level final.
Prior to this week Cepelova’s best on the tour was three straight sets defeats in quarter finals, so this is by far her best result and one which will see her rise up the rankings to just outside the top-50 if she loses and as high as 43 if she wins.
Not a bad result considering she began the week at number 78, but one has to wonder how much her largely defensive game style has taken out of her this week.
If Jana was in better condition she’d have a decent shot at this the way she’s been playing and she’s clearly taken a huge amount of confidence from beating Serena Williams in straight sets, but the experience that Petko has and her physical advantage should see her get home here.
The German has played just 83 games to reach this stage, as opposed to 122 for the Slovak, which amounts to pretty much two matches fewer and it’s hard to see Jana overcoming that sort of physical handicap today.
Andrea has a decent record as a favourite, with a 102-37 mark lifetime and 25-5 on clay and I’m torn between the 2-0 to her at 1.96 or the minus 4.5 games at 2.04.
With Cepelova likely to fade at some stage the minus 4.5 looks worth taking.
Back Petkovic –4.5 games to beat Cepelova at 2.04