The fine start to the WTA betting week in Rome continued on Tuesday when my best bet was an early winner at the Foro Italico.
Elena Vesnina took the first set from Roberta Vinci and despite eventually going on to lose a really tight match the Russian did enough to earn this column a winner on the set handicap.
Wednesday’s schedule in Rome features Maria Sharapova, Sam Stosur, Sara Errani, Vika Azarenka, and Jelena Jankovic on another packed day of tennis. I quite like the idea of taking Sharapova on in her match with Garbine Muguruza.
This pair are meeting for the first time today at around 2.30pm UK time and the talented Muguruza will enjoy this big stage. She has the game to stay with Maria for long enough to cover a generous +6.5 game handicap.
Sharapova didn’t beat a single opponent by 6.5 games in last year’s run to the Rome title and only once in 10 clay court matches this year has she managed to do it – and that was in quick conditions in Madrid against Christina McHale.
This is Maria’s opening match in Rome this year and it may take a few games to get used to the very different conditions here. Muguruza has played three matches already at the Foro Italico and will clearly be more attuned to the playing conditions.
We’ve also seen some pretty windy conditions on the opening couple of days here, which won’t help Sharapova’s serve, which has begun to look a little ragged again in recent matches.
In her last two matches in Madrid, she served a total of 14 double faults and if the wind gets up again today she may fins things tough in what is not an easy opening match.
The 19-year-old Spanish prospect has wins over Caroline Wozniacki, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in recent months and has looked good in qualifying here, with just the one poor set. She has the kind of game that can cause problems to most opposition when she finds the target.
I would expect Sharapova to come through, but 6.5 games seems an awful lot to cover against a talented opponent and the 1.88 appeals as my bet today.
Best Bet: Back Muguruza +6.5 games to beat Sharapova at 1.88
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