The WTA Tour heads to Russia and Luxembourg for week 42 of the season with the Kremlin Cup and BGL Luxembourg Open this week’s events.
The Premier level Kremlin Cup is played on a fairly paceless RuKort surface and our champion here last year was Caroline Wozniacki, which gives an idea as to just how slow the conditions are.
Top seed Sara Errani pulled out of the event with a back problem a few days ago and after winning Linz Angelique Kerber also withdrew, so the highest ranked player here this week is fellow Italian Roberta Vinci. Other big names in action this week include Maria Kirilenko, Sam Stosur, Ana Ivanovic and Sveta Kuznetsova.
Over in Luxembourg conditions are perhaps even slower and this event is played on an indoor Deco Turf surface, which has suited the likes of Monica Niculescu, who’s been successful here of late.
Wozniacki opted not to defend in Moscow, but instead plays Luxembourg and she heads the field here, with Sloane Stephens and Sabine Lisicki also in attendance.
Tsvetana Pironkova vs Annika Beck
This match, which begins at around 6pm UK time in Luxembourg, features two very much out of form players, who will be delighted to get a win on the board in the first round of a tour level event.
Grass-loving Bulgarian Pironkova hasn’t won a main draw match since reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon on her favourite surface and is likely to drop out of the top-100 in the world soon if her poor run continues.
Beck has scarcely done any better of late either, with one victory in the hard court swing from six tournaments. She had a tough first round in Linz last week against Domi Cibulkova in which she was competitive and took the opening set from the Slovak before fading.
At least that performance shows that she is hitting the ball well and in slow conditions that she enjoys, the German should be too solid for the often-wayward Pironkova in their first career meeting.
Other matches in Luxembourg worthy of consideration include backing the overs in Heather Watson’s match with Yanina Wickmayer. Neither of these two are in any sort of form and it’s hard to see either winning in straight sets.
Elsewhere, I’m tempted by backing wild card Alisa Kleybanova against Varvara Lepchenko in Moscow, but she hasn’t played in a long time, while Alize Cornet is struggling with a back injury and asked for more time to recover before her first round match today. She didn’t get it and Elina Svitolina has a shot as underdog, but the prices seem to have taken the situation into account there.
Back Beck to beat Pironkova at 1.60
Follow Sean Calvert's tennis betting tips every day