It was a welcome return to the payout queue on Wednesday at the Open GDF Suez, as Yanina Wickmayer defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The Belgian outlasted the Russian, who was grumbling about jetlag pre-match, but there didn’t seem a great deal wrong with Nastia to me – in the opening two sets at least.
Elsewhere, Christina McHale served for the opening set against Marion Bartoli, but faded after failing to see it out. This was unfortunate for +1.5 set backers and it was a similar story with Petra Kvitova, who also struggled against Stefanie Voegele.
Thursday’s play features five moderate favourites and of these I feel that the strongest two, who should be backed in a double, are Klara Zakopalova and Yanina Wickmayer.
Zakopalova takes on Carla Suarez Navarro at around 12pm UK time and these quite fast conditions in Paris should suit her much more than the Spaniard, who laboured to a narrow win over Monica Niculescu in round one.
Klara isn’t one you would want playing for your life by any means, but at around 1.45 she should be more than capable of recording another win over an opponent who she has beaten in both of their previous hard court matches.
They were a long time ago and they haven’t met for over three years now, but I’d be very surprised if the Spaniard, who has only once in her career been past the second round of any indoor hard court tournament, was good enough today.
Zakopalova reached the semi-finals here last year and is much more comfortable playing in these conditions.
Another of last year’s semi-finalists is Yanina Wickmayer and the Belgian has a great opportunity of repeating that finish, but first she must take care of big-hitting Kristina Mladenovic in the night match.
Wickmayer’s tough battle with Pavlyuchenkova will have her used to conditions here and she would have been expecting to play Julia Goerges, but the German blew a 5-2 lead to Mladenovic in the final set of their first-round match.
It will be the first meeting between the pair, but I suspect that the more reliable hitting of the Belgian will prevail in this one.
Mladenovic is a decent ball-basher, which worked against a similar style of player in Goerges, who still should have prevailed, but the all-round game and better movement of Wickmayer should be enough today.
In the other matches, I’m not sure that I trust Sara Errani at 1.33 on indoor hard, even against someone like Magdalena Rybarikova.
Errani hasn’t been in great form so far in 2013, losing in round one to Suarez Navarro in Melbourne and despite Rybarikova struggling yesterday and looking like she has a cold, I’ll bypass this match.
I would expect Lucie Safarova to out-hit Alize Cornet in their match today, but Safarova was awful early on against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino and any repeat of that will cause her a problem against Cornet.
Safarova looked to have her eye in by the end of that match and she should win this, but I don’t really trust her at the moment.
Best Bet: Back Zakopalova and Wickmayer in a double at 2.06
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