The WTA Championships began in the perfect fashion for this column, with what turned out to be an odds-against win for Petra Kvitova.
After spending most of the day on the drift, the Czech started the match against Aga Radwanska at around 2.25 from the odds-on 1.75 of earlier in the day, but as is often the case with such price moves it meant nothing in the end.
Earlier in the day Vika Azarenka struggled to get the win over an injured Sara Errani and all the talk related to the slow nature of the conditions at the Sinan Erdem, which allowed the Italian to be competitive before her calf injury.
Errani is scheduled to play again today, but standing by is first alternate Caroline Wozniacki should the Italian fail to appear, which is quite possible with the doubles here and Fed Cup still on her horizon.
So, there’s little value in backing Na Li today, as she starts at 1.07 when in her last match against Errani on a hard court the Chinese was a 1.65 shot in Montreal last summer. It’s fair to say that the injury has built in there more than a bit.
Serena Williams vs Agnieszka Radwanska (BET and WATCH LIVE on Unibet TV from 17.05 BST)
Williams started in fine form against Angelique Kerber yesterday and she should have few problems against Radwanska, who has taken just a single set from the American in the 15 they’ve contested.
The ball sits up on this slow, gritty surface, allowing the big hitters like Serena to tee off and we saw yesterday that Aga isn’t able to defend in these conditions, much like she’s unable to on clay, where her record is littered with odds-on defeats.
Williams defeated Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 here last year and a similar result seems highly likely today. With the American coming out fully focused and the Pole deflated after her loss to Kvitova there seems only one way this match can go.
Finding a bet is harder with all avenues on Williams prohibitively short, but in four of their last five meetings Serena has won by 6-2 or better so the under 8.5 total games in set one is worth a risk at 1.85.
Victoria Azarenka vs Jelena Jankovic (BET and WATCH LIVE on Unibet TV from 16.05 BST)
This match holds by far the highest likelihood of an upset and it’s worth siding with JJ here in some capacity against a shaky-looking Azarenka.
Vika may well improve from yesterday’s very average showing, but she’ll need to against the Serb, who should enjoy the conditions here and make a match of this, her ninth meeting with Azarenka.
JJ has been talking a good game here this week already, but she’ll need to arrest a slump of four straight losses to today’s opponent which she is capable of doing, as this will be their first match that won’t be taking place on outdoor hard.
All eight of their previous encounters have come on outdoor hard and perhaps only this season’s clash in Cincy, where Vika won in three holds any relevance to today.
This season Jankovic is 2-6 against top 10 opponents, while Azarenka is 9-3, but the Belarusian is not at her best or most confident after a poor Asian swing and she may struggle to find the range to hit through JJ’s stern defences at times.
Vika will need to improve from yesterday and if she does she’ll win this, but I think this will be competitive and the Jankovic +1.5 sets appeals here at 2.16
Back under 8.5 games in set one of Williams/Radwanska at 1.85
Back Jankovic +1.5 sets to beat Azarenka at 2.16