The last WTA action before the French Open takes place in France and Germany today, with the finals of week 21’s two International level events set for Saturday.
Monica Puig delivered a straight sets winner for this column yesterday when the Puerto Rican despatched Madison Keys in Strasbourg and she goes forward to today’s final, where there will be a first time WTA Tour titlist.
Monica Puig 1.39 vs Silvia-Soler Espinosa 2.90 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 14.05
So, it’s the Spanish qualifier facing the much-touted ‘Pica Power’ in the championship match of the Internationaux de Strasbourg from 14:00 UK time today.
It will be their second tour meeting, with the first going the way of Puig in a match that I was courtside for at Wimbledon last summer.
I watched most of the match that day and there wasn’t a great deal between them, but neither player would profess to loving playing on grass that much I should imagine.
Both players will be nervous in their first finals at this level and it looks to me like Puig has been put in just a little short here at 1.39.
SSE has battled her way through qualies to get to this stage and although she may be the more fatigued of the two she should be very much up for this in her first final.
The Spaniard was a bit lucky to come through against Christina McHale, who choked badly in sight of a straight sets win yesterday, but she could well make her luck count today.
Puig has played some excellent tennis this week and she’s the rightful favourite, but she’ll do well to win this in 20 games or fewer and the overs appeals here – or it would do if the last five finals here hadn’t all ended in straight sets.
The proximity to the French Open makes it ripe for a tank, but this is a big match for these two with a title in sight and these opportunities are scarce.
I think we’ll see a tougher match than the prices suggest.
Karolina Pliskova 3.40 vs Eugenie Bouchard 1.30 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.05
I can’t be backing Bouchard on clay at 1.30 against, well, anyone really, but certainly not against Pliskova, who can have spells where she’s unplayable.
Genie looks anything but a natural on the red dirt and although she may end up being a little too consistent for Pliskova by the end it could be a very tricky assignment for the Canadian for the most part.
Indeed, Pliskova is the only one of the four ladies playing today that does have a WTA Tour title to her name, so she may be the more composed, although Bouchard does have a great temperament.
The Czech had to come back from 6-1, 1-0 down to beat Elina Svitolina yesterday and she did it in some style, with great serving and a flurry of winners. Any repeat of that level today and Genie is in big trouble.
Pliskova isn’t exactly the most reliable though and the best play here looks to be to back her with a 1.5 set start on the handicap, as she’s likely to have at least one set of excellent tennis in her in this Nurnberg final.
Back Pliskova +1.5 sets to beat Bouchard at 1.85