The WTA Tour returns this week after a break for Fed Cup and the big event on the calendar on Week 17 can be found on indoor clay in Stuttgart.
The second of two tournaments on the 2013 calendar to be played on indoor clay is the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, which is a Premier event hosted at the Porsche Arena where the defending champion and number one seed is Maria Sharapova.
Also in action this week in Stuttgart from the top-10 in the world rankings are Na Li, Angelique Kerber, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, Sam Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki.
As ever with this particular week on the WTA Tour there are many players returning from exhausting Fed Cup action at the weekend and fatigue will be a factor.
Indeed, of the 12 first round matches this year, 10 of them involve at least one player who has been involved in Fed Cup this weekend and some were still playing on Monday.
Only Nadia Petrova, who takes on qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier and Yanina Wickmayer, who also plays a qualifier, haven’t been away playing Fed Cup, so fitness and desire will need to be taken a little bit on trust.
It’s much the same story over in Marrakech, where the succinctly titled Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem has seven of it’s first round matches involving players on Fed Cup duty.
Tuesday in Stuttgart sees a truncated schedule, presumably to allow the Fed Cup stalwarts some rest, with just four first round clashes set for today and Elena Vesnina may be one who’s vulnerable today.
After starting the season very well, Vesnina has tailed off and has been struggling with an elbow injury of late. She will be on a high after winning the vital doubles for Russia to take them to the Fed Cup final, but she’ll be tired and this is a quick turnaround considering the effort and emotion of that plus the travelling.
She also has a 0-2 record against today’s opponent Mirjana-Lucic Baroni, who has three matches under her belt already at this venue from qualifying and the 1.67 about her winning with a set start on the handicap looks worth taking today.
It could be a similar story with Ana Ivanovic, who looks short at 1.37 against Andrea Petkovic. At least Ana is in good form. Sabine Lisicki as ever can’t be trusted at 1.30 against Nastassja Burnett, who’s beaten Garbine Muguruza and Monica Puig – both in straight sets – to reach this stage in qualifying.
Lisicki has lost at roughly today’s price in four of her last five events and each of her last five on clay. Although she won the deciding rubber in Fed Cup doubles here in Stuttgart at the weekend and hasn’t had to travel, she can’t possibly be recommended in singles at that price. Burnett +1.5 sets at 1.83 looks the call.
Back Lucic-Baroni +1.5 sets to beat Vesnina at 1.67
Back Burnett +1.5 sets to beat Lisicki at 1.83
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