The second round of matches at the 2014 WTA Sony Open begins on Thursday at Crandon Park, with many of the world’s top players in action.
It was one of those strange days of WTA betting on Wednesday, with one winner, one void bet and one loser – all achieved in the kind of way that makes women’s tennis unique among sports.
My opening advice of the day proved very profitable for those that took the outright or opening set options on Rebecca Peterson, who was a winner when Mona Barthel retired a set and 4-2 down, but for those who took the overs or set handicap the German’s failure to see out the match resulted in a void bet.
Then Marina Erakovic went 3-0 up in both of her sets against Coco Vandeweghe and lost them both, while Nadia Petrova scraped over the handicap line against Urszula Radwanska after blowing a 4-1 lead in the decider to make that one a nervy winner.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are among the stars in action on Thursday, but my opening wager of the day takes place on Court 7 at around 15.00 UK time.
Sorana Cirstea 1.94, Tsvetana Pironkova 1.83 – starts at 15.05 GMT
I was tempted to go against Pironkova in her first round here at Crandon Park, where the Bulgarian has an awful record, but her opponent was suffering with sickness and lack of form so I avoided that one. Today could be a different matter though.
Tsveti’s opponent Galina Voskoboeva was a big factor in her own downfall that day, with nine double faults and an appallingly low 36 percent first serve mark that isn’t likely to produce anything other than a loss and I still think that Pironkova is vulnerable in these conditions.
A lover of grass and quick hard courts Pironkova may well be outhit by Cirstea today, with the Romanian looking to improve her own 3-6 record here in Miami.
Sorana did produce her best effort here 12 months ago though when she beat Angelique Kerber on her way to the fourth round and she looks a good price as a 1.94 underdog to level up her career series with Pironkova.
Rather typically with Cirstea, things haven’t been what one would expect in this match-up, with Sori winning on Tsveti’s beloved grass, while the latter beat the Romanian on clay in their first clash.
Pironkova was the winner on quick hard in Sydney this year when she was in the form of her life and the layers may have paid too much heed to that result. Conditions here won’t suit the favourite and if Cirstea’s on a go day she should win this.
Ana Ivanovic 1.27, Lauren Davis 3.60 – STARTS AT 16.05 GMT
This match looks like it could be a potential upset, with the tiny American in the form of her life at the moment and today she takes on a player who has only once made the last eight here in Miami – and that was way back in 2005.
It could be that the often windy conditions here play havoc with the highly unreliable Ivanovic ball toss, but whatever it is this is a tough first match for the Serb against an opponent who is full of confidence right now.
OK, her win over a hobbled Vika Azarenka at Indian Wells last week wasn’t as good as it will look on paper, but she backed it up well with a straight sets win over Varvara Lepchenko before being taken out of the tournament by food poisoning.
Davis is used to conditions here, as she trains nearby at Boca Raton, and she showed no signs of any lingering issues from that sickness when she eased through against Shuai Zhang last night.
She’s yet to face Ivanovic, but the Serb comes here having won just three of her last seven matches – one by retirement and two in final set tie breaks – so she’s not exactly at the top of her form.
The +4.5 games and +1.5 sets on Davis appeal here and a small wager on the 3.60 outright wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Elsewhere, I’m tempted by the handicap options on Kiki Bertens as an outsider against Sam Stosur, while Kerber and Petra Kvitova both have poor records here and could be worth taking on too.
Back Cirstea to beat Pironkova at 1.94
Back Davis +1.5 sets to beat Ivanovic at 1.96