The round of 16 is the order of the day in Eastbourne and Rosmalen on Wednesday, as the grass court action continues in week 25 of the WTA Tour.
And I’m hoping that I can carry Tuesday’s form over to today after a pleasing day that saw my best bet of Magdalena Rybarikova beat Andrea Petkovic at 2.80, while those on the Madison Keys + 1.5 sets and the overs in Heather Watson’s win over Tsvetana Pironkova were also comfortable winners.
The remaining six second round matches complete in the Topshelf Open today, while all eight last-16 clashes also play today in Eastbourne at the AEGON International.
Kirsten Flipkens vs Elina Svitolina
This match-up seems to me to be one of a very good grass court exponent versus an inexperienced and quite possibly disinterested one and it should pay to back the Belgian here.
Flipper has a lot going for her here, with final points to defend from a year ago and playing quite close to home and her crafty game is likely to snap the young Ukrainian’s patience at some stage in this encounter.
Svitolina tweeted recently: “For me, grass court season begins at Wimbeldon [sic]” and "Learning how to play on grass…’ which combined with her record on the surface of 1-4 hardly inspires confidence that she’ll put up much resistance if she goes behind in this one.
The one win came this week against Karumi Nara, who is one of the worst grass court players on the tour and this is a huge step up from that match and one that I doubt Elina has the desire to win.
Flipper recently dispensed with the services of short-term coach Xavier Malisse and started well here in Rosmalen with an easy win over Polona Hercog, who is also not great on grass and this one has a Belgian win written all over it to me.
The under 21.5 total games at 1.79 and the minus 3.5 games on Flipkens at 1.88 both appeal here, as does the 2-0 at 2.08.
Over in Eastbourne I’m torn between either backing Elena Vesnina to beat Keys or Dani Hantuchova to beat another American in Lauren Davis and I’m just about plumping for the latter.
Lauren Davis vs Daniela Hantuchova
This first career meeting between 5’2” Davis and the tall, stylish Slovak should go the way of Hantuchova, whose grass court skills should prove the difference in this one.
Davis is reasonably well suited by low bouncing grass due to her small stature, but she’s still quite inexperienced on the surface, with only eight tour level matches under her belt so far.
Her win over Sara Errani yesterday won’t amount to much in the long run, with the Italian a confirmed grass court avoider and perhaps more telling is the 6-1, 6-1 defeat she suffered last week at the hands of Ana Ivanovic.
Davis’s weak serve is the way to get to her and Dani will be sure to test it out thoroughly today and assuming she stays on the front foot she should have more than enough to win this one.
The American will try to move Hantuchova around and she should try and make the Slovak move up the court as well as side to side to put her off her rhythm, but Dani is good on grass and would be very disappointed to lose to Davis after a good win over Roberta Vinci yesterday.
Elsewhere, I can only assume that Nastia Pavlyuchenkova’s back is playing up again, as she’s been put in at a big-looking 2.43 against fellow Russian Kate Makarova.
Pavs has won four of their five meetings, although never on grass, but she has had a back problem for a few weeks now and that must be the reason she’s underdog today after a fine win over Aga Radwanska in round one.
Caro Wozniacki has a perfect 4-0 and 8-0 in sets record against Sloane Stephens, which obviously puts me off any thoughts of backing the underdog in that one, while Britain’s Johanna Konta has a shot of at least troubling Camila Giorgi in a big-hitting battle.
Watson has her work cut out against Flavia Pennetta, and Petra Kvitova should have an easier time of it today against Varvara Lepchenko, but Hantuchova and Flipkens look the calls today.
Back Flipkens –3.5 games to beat Svitolina at 1.88
Back Hantuchova to beat Davis at 1.60