It was a good night for Sloane Stephens backers last night, as my tip eased to victory in straight sets over Sofia Arvidsson in Brisbane.
Tonight’s WTA action features the quarter final matches in all three of this week’s tournaments and this time last year only one of four favourites won in Brisbane, while three of four in Auckland were successful.
In Brisbane I’m not totally convinced about Serena Williams at 1.10 against Stephens, purely because of her record in Australian Open warm-up events, which is sketchy at best.
I would expect Daniela Hantuchova in a tournament she likes to defeat lucky loser Lesia Tsurenko and Vika Azarenka looks in the mood as well and she should prevail against Ksenia Pervak, but Angelique Kerber has looked below par so far and an in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova could well cause the German some problems.
A-Pavs is not the most reliable of campaigners, but she’s a confidence player and her win over Petra Kvitova in the previous round will have given her a boost after a poor end to the 2012 season.
Kerber has looked very rusty and threw in 10 double faults against Monica Puig in her most recent match here when she scraped past the world number 124 in a final set breaker.
The world number five doesn’t have a great record at this early stage of the season and her Russian opponent has the tools to defeat her today at a price of around 2.75.
Over in Auckland I’m siding with Jamie Hampton to continue her good form against Heather Watson’s conqueror Kiki Bertens in their match, which begins at 6.30am UK time.
Hampton has been quietly been compiling some decent results on hard courts since the US Open and she’s now 12-3 since New York, with the only losses coming against Sam Stosur, Aga Radwanska and Ekaterina Makarova.
She’s yet to drop a set this week in Auckland and faces an opponent who has had to go the distance twice in two good wins over Watson and Sveta Kuznetsova respectively.
Dutch 21-year-old Bertens was underdog for both of those matches and she is quite inconsistent still, which is something that American Hampton can take advantage of.
This will be their first career meeting and I fancy the progressive Hampton, who is a hard-hitting player, to prevail on her favoured hard court surface over Bertens, who is equally at home on clay.
Back Pavlyuchenkova to beat Kerber at 2.75
Back Hampton to beat Bertens at 1.62