The clay court action continues in France and Germany on Wednesday, with the second round of our two International level events on week 21 of the WTA Tour.
I said yesterday that this would probably be a tricky week, with energies being saved for the French Open and so it proved, as I chose the wrong bet in the end in the Sloane Stephens/Julia Goerges clash.
In Tuesday’s column I wrote that “Goerges could well cause her [Sloane] major problems today if she’s on a good day,” and it turned out that the German was on a great day, but it was another tepid effort from the American.
Considering that her coach is with her at the moment it was another lacklustre showing, although Julia had one of her increasingly rare days when everything she hit went in.
That was just Julia’s fourth career straight sets win over a top-20 opponent on clay and her first for two years.
Elsewhere, my hunch that Mirjana Lucic-Baroni might make a decent outsider was correct, as she took down Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets.
Nurnberg has continued it’s trend of being an event for the favourites, with 14 of 19 winning so far and of their four matches today I like one.
Annika Beck 1.82, Mona Barthel 1.94
This classic match-up of the defender versus the all-out attacker is likely to go the way of Beck in this all-German affair.
On a quicker surface one would perhaps favour the big hitting of Barthel, but on clay it’s hard to see the often-wildly errant Mona having the consistency to hit through Beck on the red dirt.
The pair have met on four prior occasions, with the series tied at 2-2 and it will simply be a case of how often Barthel big shots can find their range.
And that’s been the problem all season for Mona, who coming into this event had won just three matches in the main draw and none since the Australian Open.
She hadn’t won any on this clay swing, but she has had some decent wins in qualies and finally managed to transfer that to a main draw match when she surprisingly beat young starlet Belinda Bencic in round one.
Barthel certainly could win this if she finds her best form, but I think the solid Beck, who made the quarter here last year before losing a tight one to Andrea Petkovic, will make her play one ball too many most of the time.
Mona’s record on clay bears out the obvious train of thought that she doesn’t have the consistency or the patience most of the time to be effective on this surface, while today’s opponent has those qualities in abundance and is able to protect her weak serve the better.
Over in Strasbourg Ajla Tomljanovic should have too much power for Zarina Diyas, but Goerges might well struggle to follow up her win over Stephens against the tricky Lauren Davis.
I also like Shuai Peng’s chances against Silvia-Soler Espinosa, but little else appeals from a betting perspective today.
Best Bet: Back Beck to beat Barthel at 1.82