It’s semi-final Saturday at the Family Circle Cup Premier tournament in Charleston on the green clay.
And the line-up, it’s fair to assume from my experience, will most likely not be overly familiar to the largely insular tennis spectators holding tickets for today’s play.
I vividly recall numerous watchers at the US Open, to name but one occasion, exclaiming their ignorance when viewing Nikolay Davydenko, who at the time was in his heyday and top-five in the world, so the chances of Belinda Bencic, Eugenie Bouchard, Jana Cepelova and Andrea Petkovic being heard of today are slim.
It will highlight all too starkly the lack of home grown talent to the paying fans and tournament directors, bearing in mind that when the Williams sisters do call it a day the USA has only Sloane Stephens currently inside the top-30 in the singles rankings – and the men’s situation is even worse.
That is a debate for another day though and yesterday’s bets went one from two and highlighted why I, by and large, avoid backing Dani Hantuchova, as the Slovak produced an awful performance to slump to a two and one defeat to Cepelova, but there was better news when Petkovic and Lucie Safarova went past the overs mark.
Play begins at 18.00 UK time on Saturday and both matches are priced up as pretty not far off 50/50 clashes.
Andrea Petkovic 2.02 vs Eugenie Bouchard 1.75 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 18.05
This one promises to be a decent encounter, with both players having produced some fine tennis to get to this stage and between them they now hold a combined record of 13-1 at this tournament.
Bouchard landed the bigger scalp by taking down last year’s finalist and world number eight Jelena Jankovic in a tough, three set battle and I give her the edge coming into this third career clash with Petko.
The German won both of their previous matches, but one was back in 2011 and even the clash indoors in Luxembourg at the latter part of 2013 isn’t overly relevant today given Genie’s improvement.
Indeed it may play into the hands of Bouchard backers today, as the 2-0 head-to-head may have contributed to a better price on the Canadian for this one.
It’s been good to see Andrea get back to something like her best form here this week following a torrid time with injuries and if she wins today she’ll be back inside the top-30 in the world rankings.
Bouchard though is already a bone fide member of the top-20 and if she wins this tournament she’ll most likely be top-15 in the rankings.
I just favour the slightly more attacking and intelligent approach of Bouchard on this surface, which does give its rewards to those who can take the game to their opponent accurately and not produce error after error, which is what happened to Hantuchova last night.
For me Petkovic is just a little methodical and predictable to really crack the higher echelons of the game and I also give Genie the edge in terms of temperament, so at the prices I’m happy to side with the Canadian today at 1.75.
The second semi-final really looks a tough one to call with both players likely to be at the end of their physical capabilities following tough weeks and Bencic at just turned 17-years-old could well struggle after six matches here already.
Cepelova has been supported by strapping for her last few matches and there are too many variables in this one for it to be a decent betting medium, but I’m not sure I like Bencic as slight favourite after all those matches.
Back Bouchard to beat Petkovic at 1.75