The quarter finals of the 2014 WTA China Open are all set for Friday at the National Tennis Centre in Beijing.
And we arrive at the last eight stage in good shape after both of my best bets on Thursday were winners thanks to Ana Ivanovic covering the handicap against Sabine Lisicki and Sveta Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber going past the overs.
And those who took a chance on Andrea Petkovic based on the possible injury to Simona Halep can count themselves a tad unfortunate after the German was beaten in a final set tie break, only for Halep to withdraw from the tournament injured.
So, we have only three quarter finals on Friday, as Ivanovic gets a free pass to the semis, and we start at 05:30 with Petra Kvitova facing Roberta Vinci.
The Italian has had a pretty poor season, but she’s found some form out of nowhere this week seemingly, and took down Kate Makarova rather surprisingly on Thursday.
I can’t see her being up to the task of beating Kvitova though and especially as the Czech had a day off when Venus Williams withdrew with a virus.
That day’s rest was probably just what Kvitova needed after a long week in Wuhan and she should have too much power for Vinci’s measured game to deal with on a hard court.
Kuznetsova’s reward for beating Kerber is another shot at Maria Sharapova, who defeated Sveta in Wuhan last week.
Sharapova has played some of her best tennis of the year – certainly of the summer – this week in Beijing and she has the edge in this one, with the feeling being that Kuznetsova faced a tired Kerber, who was unable or unwilling to battle to the end as she usually does.
Kuznetsova does have a shot in this one if she plays her best tennis, but she’s a little to in and out for my liking and I prefer taking a chance on the biggest price of the lot on Friday.
Samantha Stosur vs Serena Williams
You’ve only usually got a limited window to catch Stosur when she’s confident and in-form and one of those spells appears to be this week in Beijing.
The Aussie doesn’t have a good record in China and wasn’t playing well at all coming into this tournament, so I’m not too sure where it’s come from, but it’s worth taking a chance on Stosur in this 09:00 UK time start.
Williams is suffering with what she describes as “a little swelling” on her left knee and had it taped up in an up and down win over Lucie Safarova on Thursday that went the distance.
At this stage of the season it can’t be a good idea backing a 1.16 shot who is even by her own admission somewhat below par and with Stosur in form it makes sense to side with the Aussie either outright at 5.25 or to win a set at 2.38.
Stosur has beaten Williams three times and took her to two tie very tight tie breaks in their last meeting in Cincy seven weeks ago, so it’s not that unlikely that Sam could take this one.
There’s always a chance of Serena retiring if the knee does play up and all in all it’s worth the risk.
Back Stosur to beat Williams at 5.25