The season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul continue their round robin phase on Thursday, with three more matches on the card at the Sinan Erdem.
The great start to the tournament for this column continued on Wednesday with Jelena Jankovic defeating an out-of-sorts Vika Azarenka before Serena Williams completed the first set of her match with Aga Radwanska in under 8.5 total games.
Na Li vs Jelena Jankovic (BET and WATCH LIVE on Unibet TV from 15.05 BST)
The opening match of Thursday’s play at around 3pm UK time should be a tough test for the Chinese player, who will start as favourite at around the 1.36 mark and that looks short to me.
Jankovic will feel that she’s on a bit of a roll at the moment and she seems to be at her belligerent best right now, which may not be good news for Li or her backers today.
JJ will fancy this, as she has emerged victorious in three of the last four encounters between these two, although Li will be buoyed by her 6-3, 6-0 thrashing of the Serb in New York a few months ago.
Many of their nine career meetings were a long time ago and aren’t relevant to today’s clash, but JJ did win their third round match on the slow clay of Rome this season, which suggests that on a slow surface such as today’s she is in with more of a chance.
As ever with Li the consistency just isn’t there and she goes through several patches during her matches where she can barely find the court before switching back to the Li we all know, who can hit clean winners to all parts.
In her first match in Istanbul the Chinese player should have beaten an injured Sara Errani much more comfortably than she eventually did and she does still have problems with nerves on the big occasion.
I think that Li will come through this one, but it should be a good deal closer than their US Open meeting and the 3.85 about a 2-1 Na Li win looks the best bet of the day.
The second match on the card at 5pm features Radwanska and Angelique Kerber and that really is a pick ‘em match and is priced up as such. If you’re betting on that one you’re a braver individual than me.
Finally, perhaps the most entertaining clash of the day takes place at around 7pm or probably later looking at the first two matches, which could well go long.
Serena Williams vs Petra Kvitova (BET and WATCH LIVE on Unibet TV from 17.05 BST)
Seemingly all of the ladies here are complaining of either mental or physical fatigue, which is hardly surprising at this stage of the year and Williams is another of these, which isn’t great news for backers of the American here at around 1.12.
There could be an opportunity here for Kvitova at a big price, but her record against Williams is poor, largely due to her awful movement and Serena gives her no time to tee off on those big groundies.
Serena has won all four of their meetings and dropped just the one set in the process, but they are yet to meet on Kvitova’s favoured indoor hard and the Czech did win that one set in their only meeting this year.
That was on a much quicker surface than today’s in Doha, but in these circumstances where motivation and fatigue could be an issue I see no value in 1.12 on Williams.
The 1.55 on the match lasting longer than 18.5 games looks a solid wager to me here and the game and set handicaps on Kvitova also look worthy of consideration with Williams playing twice in two days, while Petra has had a day off.
Back Li to beat Jankovic 2-1 at 3.85
Back over 18.5 total games in Williams vs Kvitova at 1.55