The semi finals of the only indoor clay court tournament on the WTA Tour are all set for Saturday in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Maria Sharapova is still unbeaten at the Porsche Arena and landed our odds-against bet on Friday, with a straight sets win over Aga Radwanska.
The Russian took her time, but eventually got it done on her eighth match point and goes on to face Sara Errani for a place in the final at 12.30 UK time today.
Maria Sharapova 1.16 vs Sara Errani 5.10 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.35
Errani was helped along the way by an injury to Carla Suarez Navarro in their quarter-final yesterday, with the Spaniard retiring in the final set, but in any case this should be routine for Maria.
The Italian struggles against anyone with the power, consistency and aggression to take on her amazingly feeble serve, which is borne out by her record against the highest ranked opponents.
Errani is 7-46 lifetime against top-10 ranked opposition and she has just the one career win over a top-five ranked opponent, which was over Radwanska at the French Open in 2012. She's never beaten any of the top ranked power players.
Against this particular opponent Errani has lost all four matches and all eight sets they’ve played and this surface and playing conditions will surely assist Maria, who will be able to hit right through the Italian’s defences.
Sara has done well to get as far as this in these slick, slippery conditions, but she hasn’t faced anyone with power and the ability to use it without peppering the back fence and the front row of the crowd.
She will today though and the margin of victory here is likely to depend upon how often Maria can convert the numerous break point chances that will surely come her way today.
It may also depend upon how Maria serves, as she coughed up 14 double faults in the two sets it took to beat Errani in their last meeting in Miami just over a year ago, but this week in Stuttgart she’s served only 12 in total in three matches.
Without the assistance of Sharapova’s double faults this could and should be a thrashing and under 19.5 total games looks the call here at 1.78.
Jelena Jankovic 1.95 vs Ana Ivanovic 1.82 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 17.35
Following that there’s an all-Serbian battle between Jankovic and Ivanovic that should have taken place earlier in the tournament before withdrawals led to a change in the draw.
JJ has been moaning all week, in typical style, about the court surface, but she’s made the last four and I would be amazed if she wasn’t whingeing and shouting throughout this one as well.
Ivanovic has had by far the better of this career series, with nine wins to three dating back all the way to 2005 and she had another good victory here yesterday against a resurgent Sveta Kuznetsova.
It was a pretty decent match and Ana has said that she’s been working on her serve lately – which is not before time, let’s be honest – and that’s given her a bit more confidence when she steps up to the line.
Ana has found it much easier to hit winners in these conditions than JJ, as you would expect, with Jelena preferring the steadier approach, and she fired 33 past Sveta yesterday.
The only concern for Ana backers may be the treatment she had on her right foot in the final set of the Kuznetsova match, but otherwise I think that conditions favour the more attacking player here, which is Ivanovic.
Back under 19.5 total games in Sharapova/Errani at 1.78
Back Ivanovic to beat Jankovic at 1.82