The rain fell in Birmingham on Thursday, wiping out the morning’s play – so it was one winner from my two best bets at the Aegon Classic.
Dani Hantuchova defeated Kiki Mladenovic, but she left it too late to find her best form in a match interrupted by the rain and she failed to cover the handicap in that one.
But much later in the day Mirjana Lucic-Baroni restored some order to proceedings by amassing an unassailable lead on the +4.5 game handicap against Sabine Lisicki when she won the second set 6-2.
Friday is quarter finals day in Birmingham and it begins at 11am with Donna Vekic taking on Sorana Cirstea. After breaking the habit of a lifetime the other day and betting in a Cirstea match, I won’t be doing so again.
The Romanian had another classic Sorana match on Thursday, winning 6-1 1-6 6-1 against Bojana Jovanovski. I’m not sure it’s possible to predict what’s coming off Cirstea’s racquet from one point to the next.
I would say that the 16-year-old Vekic appeared to be quite tired at the end of a tough three-setter on Thursday, and perhaps Cirstea can get through to her first ever semi-final on grass, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it.
The match between Hantuchova and Fran Schiavone will be their tenth meeting in all competitions in a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 2001, with the Italian leading the series 6-3 at the moment.
They’ve never met on a grass court though and they haven’t faced each other since early 2012 when Dani won on hard in Sydney, and I would have to favour Hantuchova on grass.
Schiavone did well again to come back to beat Marina Erakovic on Thursday, but this represents a fine chance for Dani to move a step closer to winning this title and I can’t see her letting Schiavone’s questionable grass skills stand in her way. Dani can be backed at around the 1.6 mark for this and that will be my first bet today.
I also fancy Madison Keys to continue her good run of form on the grass against Magdalena Rybarikova in the mid-afternoon match.
I said a few days ago that I think Keys has a good game for the grass and she’ll get better when she’s more used to moving on it and she can certainly overpower Rybarikova on this surface.
Keys is a 60/40 shot in my book, so the 1.87 for the American looks good value in what will be their second meeting after Keys won on hard in Miami last year.
Back Hantuchova to beat Schiavone at 1.55
Back Keys to beat Rybarikova at 1.87