The second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix completes on Thursday in Stuttgart, with several top-10 stars in action today.
My two big hitters let me down on Wednesday, with Kaia Kanepi flattering to deceive when up an early break against Sara Errani, before Sabine Lisicki produced another awful display to lose in two to Ana Ivanovic.
Indeed, I managed to pick the only two outsiders that didn’t win, as Alisa Kleybanova assumed the role of big hitting underdog reserved for Kanpei or Lisicki when she took down Petra Kvitova, while Flavia Pennetta and Julia Goerges also won at odds-against.
Play starts at 11.30am UK time on Thursday with what should be a routine win for Aga Radwanska over Roberta Vinci, while Maria Sharapova should keep her perfect record here in Stuttgart going when she faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Angelique Kerber could have a tough day though against Carla Suarez Navarro after a long trip to Australia and back in Fed Cup, but it has to make more sense to take on Jelena Jankovic in her 14.00 UK time clash with Flavia Pennetta.
Jelena Jankovic 1.75, Flavia Pennetta 2.00
Flavia was friendless in the betting market ahead of her win over Andrea Petkovic last night, but she a pretty convincing winner in the end over an opponent who struggled physically.
It was a strange market move considering all the travelling that Petkovic endured the previous weekend, but Pennetta played some very nice tennis as well and Jankovic can be beaten on this surface and conditions.
Since winning this in 2008 Jelena has struggled here and she was fortunate not to go out early again when saving four match points against Mona Barthel in the first round.
Pennetta beat Jankovic the last time they met on clay, which was here back in 2009, but JJ has had the best of the career series, which is why she’s favourite, but her very heavy schedule looks to be taking its toll at the moment.
Including doubles, which she insists on playing for some reason or other, she’s played 43 matches this season already, while the Italian, who also likes doubles, has racked up only 31.
Flavia said that she had a fever at the weekend, but feels much better now and that match should have her feeling well and confident for this challenge today over what looks another jaded opponent.
The 2-1 to Pennetta is tempting at 4.40, as well as the outright win at 2.0.
Simona Halep 1.37, Svetlana Kuznetsova 2.95
This match may not be as comfortable for Halep as the odds suggest, with the Russian one of the few players to express pleasure at playing on this tricky indoor clay surface here at the Porsche Arena.
A former champion here back in 2009 she’s not at that sort of level too often these days, but with Halep yet to play a match on this surface Sveta could easily cause problems for the Romanian here.
Halep was a comfortable winner over Sveta on slow, outdoor clay in Rome last year, but she was beaten by Ana Ivanovic in Fed Cup at the weekend in straight sets and she’s hardly the strongest of physical specimens.
Simona will do very well to come here and deliver a similarly convincing win over the Russian as she did in Rome, given the travelling, fatigue and her first match ever on this indoor clay surface, so the 1.37 looks a touch short to me.
The 2-1 Halep win would be more to my liking at 3.90, but I wouldn’t count Kuznetsova out of this one, despite clay being Halep’s stated favourite surface and her fine record on it last season.
Sveta seems to have been plagued by injury in recent times and latterly she withdrew from Charleston with a left hip problem, but when she’s fit her level is still very good and she was impressive in her opening match here.
Either the 2-1 to Halep at 3.90 or the +1.5 sets on Sveta at 1.77 look the options here.
Back Pennetta to beat Jankovic at 2.00
Back Halep to beat Kuznetsova 2-1 at 3.90