The remaining eight ladies in contention for the Western & Southern Open title are all in action today, with a great day’s tennis viewing in prospect in Cincy.
I managed to find a pair of good value losers yesterday at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre, with both of my picks flopping after starting well.
Sloane Stephens served for the opening set against Jelena Jankovic and almost got back into it right at the death, with JJ suffering and taking a medical time out before closing it out.
Then Angelique Kerber began brightly against Caro Wozniacki, but faded badly in set two, and Caro didn’t need to do much more than remain solid to take the win.
It looks a decent day in prospect on Friday, with bearable heat and comparatively low humidity on Friday in Mason, Ohio, so hopefully we’ll see some great tennis today.
Jankovic had her pulse taken after feeling iffy late on against Stephens and she surely won’t be up to the job of defeating Serena Williams in the 18:00 UK time (13:00 local) start today.
Serena has won 10 of their 14 prior meetings and she looked in good enough form against Flavia Pennetta yesterday to ease past JJ today if she keeps the same sort of level.
Woznaicki faces Aga Radwanska in the next match on the schedule and this one is an absolute pick ‘em match and it’s priced up as such.
Aga had an easy time of it against an exhausted Sabine Lisicki, who was presumably tired from all the second serves she had to hit (and failed with) against Sara Errani the previous day and the career series reads 5-4 to Wozniacki.
Two players with quite similar styles in terms of relying on assets other than power to win matches could lead to a bit of a dour encounter and one that really could go either way.
Maria Sharapova vs Simona Halep
Hopefully, this one won’t fall into the ‘good value losers’ category, as I like the idea of backing underdog Halep in this one.
I was with Sharapova in the French Open final against Halep, but it was a real struggle and there’s a decent chance that the Romanian could get a bit of revenge in this midnight UK time clash.
The Russian has won all four of their career meetings so far, but that head-to-head advantage surely won’t last and Halep can make her first inroad into that Sharapova lead tonight.
I haven’t been impressed by Sharapova’s game for a while now and her famous mental strength might just be a little less so in these sorts of matches rather than in majors.
Maria’s forehand was poor again yesterday against Nastia Pavlyuchenkova and Halep can expose any weaknesses in the Sharapova game with her far more reliable game.
The Romanian should be the fresher of the two, having played just twice since winning Bucharest five weeks ago.
She was given the test that I expected by Lucie Safarova yesterday, but she came through in two tight sets and Maria will need to improve to win this one.
She’s perfectly capable of doing that of course, but at the prices I’m happy to side with Halep today.
The final match on the card tonight features Elina Svitolina and Ana Ivanovic and neither of these two seem to be fully fit, with Ivanovic still bothered by a painful nerve issue in her back/hip and Svitolina sporting tape on her calf/Achilles yesterday.
Combined with the short price on Ivanovic, who has beaten Elina four times from four meetings, it doesn’t stand out to me as one to get heavily involved in.
Back Halep to beat Sharapova at 2.08