Kirsten Flipkens will get the better of Lucie Safarova while Alisa Kleybanova will take at least a set off Dominika Cibulkova in Doha, writes Unibet columnist Sean Calvert...
The Qatar Total Open 2014 really gets going on Tuesday, with no fewer than 18 matches scheduled for today in Doha.
There were contrasting fortunes for my bets on Monday, as Tsvetana Pironkova eased past Roberta Vinci in straight sets, but unfortunately Mona Barthel had a nightmare and ended up crying, as no doubt, did some of us who had backed the error ridden German.
There is some peculiar scheduling on display today, as some players who are set to play will have very little time indeed to acclimatise before their matches begin and several will pretty much step off the plane and onto the court.
Carla Suarez-Navarro, who had a 2.30pm local time (11.30am UK) start against nemesis Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after playing Fed Cup in Seville on Monday withdrew last night for that reason and there seems certain to be a few retirements around on Tuesday.
By my calculations at least 19 players in action today played Fed Cup over the weekend – some ending later and having farther to travel than others – but with at least 13 matches concerning those players we’ll have to take more than a little on trust today.
Lucie Safarova 2.10, Kirsten Flipkens 1.70 – starts at 15.05 GMT
One player that we know will be a little discombobulated will be Safarova, who, after a Fed Cup tie that was carried over until Monday due to bad weather, has travelled by private jet from Seville to Madrid to catch a connecting flight to Doha.
Safarova didn’t play in the deciding doubles against Spain, but did play a long three-setter on clay in the singles after suffering from illness earlier in the week and it’s a tall order for her to come to Doha after a rushed journey and then switch from slow clay in the damp to quickish hard with no practice and come out and beat Flipkens.
The Belgian has the clear advantage of having practiced in Doha and attuned herself to the conditions and in what would have been a tight enough clash anyway the 1.75 about Flipper seems a touch of value on the face of it.
Dominika Cibulkova 1.18, Alisa Kleybanova 4.50 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.35
It’s worth taking a chance on a big outsider in these circumstances and I think that Kleybanova fits the bill here at around 4.50 against what will be a very tired and very short priced Domi.
The Australian Open finalist was always likely to be priced up too short in the weeks after Melbourne and her week in Fed Cup was tough, with a gruelling loss to Andrea Petkovic and a defeat to Angelique Kerber and Domi will have had very little time to practice if she’s had any at all come 2pm UK time on Tuesday when her match is due to start.
Kleybanova has been handed a wild card into this event and she’ll see this as a decent opportunity having beaten Cibulkova in their two career meetings prior to her illness.
The 24-year-old Russian will take confidence from that, although their last meeting was in 2011 and in normal circumstances one would expect Domi to win given the differing paths their careers have taken since then.
Alisa can still play though and recorded some good wins at the start of her comeback last season and I see no reason why she can’t at least grab a set here at a tempting 2.30.
Back Flipkens to beat Safarova at 1.75
Back Kleybanova +1.5 sets to beat Cibulkova at 2.30