The final of the Luxembourg Open and semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup are the points of business in week 42 of the WTA Tour on Saturday.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova will be there after the Czech was a comfortable odds-against winner over Mona Barthel in my best bet of Friday and Babs faces Annika Beck in the Luxembourg final at 15:00 UK time.
In Moscow the other bet that I considered, which was Lucie Safarova over Sveta Kuznetsova, also came to fruition and the former goes on to face Irina Camelia Begu in one of the Kremlin Cup semis.
Camila Giorgi was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in the other semi and the 18-year-old will play Nastia Pavlyuchenkova in the other last four clash in Moscow.
I’m not sure that I see either Safarova being beaten by Begu or Pavs falling to defeat what will be a fatigued Siniakova in Moscow, but the Luxembourg final looks a close one to call.
Annika Beck vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova
This 15:00 UK time Luxembourg Open final sees Beck contest the championship match for the second straight year.
The German was beaten in straight sets by Caroline Wozniacki 12 months ago and she may have to settle for the runners-up trophy again this year, with BZS probably the right favourite to land her first tour title since Quebec City three years ago.
Since then, the Czech has reached two more finals at tour level and been beaten by Sara Errani on clay in Palermo and on the grass this summer in Birmingham by Ana Ivanovic.
Beck has only ever made that one final at tour level in her career prior to today and she clearly has a better chance this time around than a year ago.
These two players who use their speed around the court and a fair bit of variety to compensate for a comparative lack of power should contest a tight final today and it could well go the distance.
Indeed, the only previous occasion that Beck and Zahlavova Strycova met was also here in Luxembourg in the first round in 2012 when the German progressed in three sets having lost the opener – and it could be equally close today.
BZS scored regularly with the double-handed sliced backhand drop shot that she does disguise very well, but that was against the immobile Barthel and I would expect Beck to pick a few more of those up.
Beck’s usual vulnerability is her feeble second serve and she was a little fortunate yesterday that she faced an opponent in Denisa Allertova, who had nothing left in the tank after 16 prior sets played this week.
Allertova was drained after beating the likes of Sabine Lisicki, Varvara Lepchenko and having battled through qualies, so I’m no reading too much into Beck’s comfortable win in that match.
We could be in for plenty of long tactical exchanges today and as I think that BZS will come out on top and that it will be a long one the 2-1 to the Czech at 4.10 looks well worth a try.
There will be plenty of nerves around and BZS in particular could come out with some emotional outpourings near the end, but on the balance of this week’s form and the season in general I think she deserves a title to her name.
Back Zahlavova Strycova to beat Beck 2-1 at 4.10