Friday is semi-finals day in the California desert, as the last four ladies in the BNP Paribas Open face off at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Thursday’s best bet and suggested advice proved to be sound, with Li Na landing a very nice 3.90 gamble on her winning 2-1 against Domi Cibulkova in what was a pretty awful match in truth.
Li and Domi combined threw in well over 100 unforced errors in a match that neither will be proud of and Cibulkova will be left to rue missed chances in that one.
Those betting in the Flavia Pennetta vs Sloane Stephens clash who took my suggestion of the overs would also have been comfortable winners, as that one went all the way to 6-4 in the third and also involved more than a century of unforced errors in windy conditions.
Simona Halep 1.58 vs Agnieszka Radwanska 2.33 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 01.35
The rise and rise of Halep continues unabated and the Romanian comes into her sixth career meeting with Radwanska as favourite for the first time.
Simona has won their last two meetings, which took place last month on a medium to quick hard court in Doha and on the slow clay of Rome last spring, and she looks a worthy favourite in arguably the biggest match of her career so far.
Generally regarded as the ‘fifth major’ making a semi-final here is a big deal for Halep, and the only thing that concerns me about backing her at around 1.58 here is a potential fit of nerves.
I remember very well her no-show only a couple of months ago in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open against Cibulkova, in which she admitted the nerves were a big factor in her heavy defeat and hopefully she will have learned from that experience and can draw on it today.
Halep has won a Premier 5 event, which was in Doha when she beat Aga en route recently, and this is the logical next step for her in her quest to cement a top-five spot in the world rankings.
She’s playing well enough and her aggressive game should enable her to break the distinctly breakable serve of Radwanska, who has had her serve taken from her 14 times already this tournament.
It’s always tough to read Aga’s matches, as she can play some sublime tennis at times, such as during her Australian Open victory over Vika Azarenka, in which she was awesome in spells, but we also see her struggle to overcome the likes of Heather Watson and she was thrashed by Cibulkova in Melbourne.
I feel that the Pole is vulnerable against attacking players and Halep now comes into that category and the confidence that the Romanian is now exuding on court is clear for all to see.
Radwanska has never been past this stage at Indian Wells and I can’t see that stat changing today if Halep is able to keep her nerves in check and play the kind of game that she has done lately.
I like the minus 2.5 games on Halep here at 1.83.
Na Li 1.40 vs Flavia Pennetta 2.90 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 03.35
On the basis of yesterday’s offerings either player would be fortunate to make a final this week after error-fests that rather hurt my eyes to watch on Thursday in their quarter-finals.
This pair are just a day apart in age, but a little way separated at the very top level of the women’s game, with Li proving her superiority over the Italian once more in the last eight of the Australian Open a couple of months ago.
The Chinese player was a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 winner that day and she has much more composure and experience in these sorts of matches than Pennetta, whose opportunities at the business end of big tournaments have never gone well.
In three quarter-finals and one semi-final at major level Flavia has just one set to her name and she has a 4-7 record in Premier quarters and 0-3 in semis, with zero sets won.
Sadly for this talented and likeable pro she lacks that killer touch at the top level and nerves play a big part, as we saw again last night when she failed to serve out for a 2-0 win and went on to lose six straight games.
She won’t get away with that against Li, who plays a similar kind of game to Pennetta – she’s just better at it.
That said, Li will need to improve upon some of the awful play she served up on Thursday and if she does this should be 2-0 to the top seed at 1.96.
Back Halep –2.5 games to beat Radwanska at 1.83
Back Na Li to beat Pennetta 2-0 at 1.96