The awful British weather continued to play a substantial part in proceedings at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham on Saturday, ensuring a late finish to the semi finals.
Earlier in the day 16-year-old London resident Donna Vekic reached her second tour level final when she took advantage of a rain delay to recover her energy levels to see off Magdalena Rybarikova in a stop/start affair that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.
After several more rain breaks, the second semi final resulted in a win for Dani Hantuchova, who reaches her first final since Pattaya City in 2012, and her third grass court career final.
Daniela is yet to win a title on grass and her record in finals isn’t the best with a 5-9 mark in championship matches, but she’s made no secret of her desire to win this particular title and I expect that extra desire and determination to be the difference today in what should be an entertaining clash.
Fitness will also be key here, with the 16-year-old looking a little fatigued in her last couple of matches and she will almost certainly be a little nervous today. But Hantuchova played her match against Alison Riske yesterday with a taped ankle and she had previously suggested that a foot problem may prevent her from even starting the semi against Riske.
So, we have to be aware that this match could be blighted by injury, but that said there can’t be many finals played on the tour that are injury and fatigue-free and I’m sure Hantuchova will find a way to overcome her fitness issues today.
The match is scheduled for a 1pm start and, weather permitting, it should be a good end to a week blighted by rain.
Hantuchova comes here as the 1.70 favourite and it would be fitting for the Slovakian to finally land that elusive grass court title that her play has deserved over the years. And I get the distinct impression that Vekic is the happier of the two to be here and she’ll have numerous other chances to win her first WTA title in the coming months.
I think that the extra desire of Hantuchova will win out and I’ll take her at 1.70 to make it a memorable day in her career.
Best Bet: Back Hantuchova to beat Vekic at 1.70