Thursday at the Aegon International sees the round of 16 matches take place on the grass in Birmingham – weather permitting.
The rain didn’t affect the schedule too badly on Wednesday, which was a day when one of my three bets won. One was disappointing and the last was a really tight loss.
Andrea Hlavackova got the day off to a good start by taking the opening set from Bojana Jovanovski, which made my set handicap bet a winner. But the other early match ended in a surprising loss on her favourite surface for Tsvetana Pironkova against Sorana Cirstea before we had to wait until after 8pm for a winner between Kirsten Flipkens and Ajla Tomljanovic.
Flipkens, sporting a knee support for that problem I talked about yesterday, finally won it 7-5 in the third. But Tomljanovic threw it away from a set and a break up against an opponent who could scarcely move in the early stages.
Kicking things off on Thursday are Dani Hantuchova and Kiki Mladenovic, with Madison Keys and Mona Barthel being the other 11am match. And I like the idea of backing the in-form Hantuchova to win relatively comfortably against big hitting Mladenovic.
There is a huge chasm between these two in terms of grass court experience and Kiki had played only one match on the green stuff before this week, while Hantuchova is a big fan of this time of year.
Dani also has her eyes set on winning this event, as it was her first WTA tournament. And who’s to say she won’t if she can keep up the kind of form that saw her defeat Laura Robson comfortably on Wednesday.
I expect Hantuchova to expose Mladenovic’s questionable movement on this surface and make her play from areas she’s not comfortable with, and the 1.92 for her winning minus 3.5 games looks good to me.
I quite like Bojana Jovanovski to beat Cirstea, but Sorana always seems to do the opposite of what I expect, so I’ll leave that one and I’ll opt not to back Donna Vekic and Alison Riske, who both seem short to me although they should both win.
Marina Erakovic also seems a little short at a similar price against Fran Schiavone and perhaps the best odds-against shot today is Mirjana Lucic-Baroni against Sabine Lisicki.
The Croatian has come alive back on grass after a miserable run on clay and Lisicki is usually too short in these circumstances due to her well-known grass prowess.
Sabine began her grass campaign well yesterday, but this is a tougher match and certainly trickier than the 1.3 price suggests, so I’ll take the +4.5 games for Lucic-Baroni at 1.90 in this.
Back Hantuchova –3.5 games to beat Mladenovic at 1.92
Back Lucic-Baroni +4.5 games to beat Lisicki at 1.90