Jelena Jankovic should have enough to get past Alisa Kleybanova, but the Russian's big shots could pose a few problems for JJ, writes tennis expert Sean Calvert...
We’ve reached the last 16 stage of this week’s Premier 5 event the Qatar Total Open 2014 in Doha.
And we head into the latter stages of the event in decent shape after all three of my best bets were winners on Wednesday, as Yanina Wickmayer, Petra Cetkovska and Monica Niculescu all prevailed at handy prices.
It was a bumper day all round as anyone on my other suggestions of Petra Kvitova and Alisa Kleybanova would also have profited on another day that featured some eye opening results again.
Those tireless Czechs Klara Zakopalova and Lucie Safarova prevailed again, with the latter denting my day once more after beating my suggested pick of Shuai Peng – and both ladies did it in three sets.
Both are big underdogs today against Angelique Kerber and Kvitova and it would be quite something if either of them were able to get close to winning again on Thursday.
Alisa Kleybanova 5.50, Jelena Jankovic 1.14 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.35 GMT
JJ took full advantage of another of the fatigue brigade in Karin Knapp on Wednesday in a very comfortable win that has perhaps made the Serbian a tad too short against the dangerous Russian in this 12.30pm UK time start.
In the days prior to her illness, Kleybanova defeated Jankovic on three occasions, which indicates that the power she has in her game can trouble JJ – it would be the fitness and stamina that will most likely be Alisa’s issue today.
Played in the heat of the afternoon it should be fairly quick conditions for this match and although I expect Jankovic to come through she’ll do well to cover a 5.5 game handicap against a powerful opponent.
Jankovic’s 6-3, 6-2 win in similar conditions in New York last season is a touch misleading, as it was one of Alisa’s first matches back on the tour after her two year hiatus and after gaining confidence from prevailing against two admittedly below par opponents this week she can push JJ in this one.
I also would not be surprised if Cetkovska threatened Li Na with a 5.5 game start today too after a very shaky showing from the Chinese yesterday, but as ever it’s guesswork as to which Li will show up.
Aga Radwanska should be a comfortable winner over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, while Sara Errani should out-junk Niculescu in one for the purists at around 2pm UK time today.
Jana Cepelova 2.40, Yanina Wickmayer 1.55 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 16.35 GMT
It would be just like Wicky to lose this match after the delight of finally beating Wozniacki for the first time yesterday and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s what happens in this 5pm UK time encounter with Cepelova.
The pair have met on one previous occasion on the tour when Wicky edged a tight one in Melbourne a year ago and naturally the loser that day claims that she was a little under par physically during that clash.
The Slovak has enjoyed two good wins here this week over a couple of jaded Fed Cup players in Sam Stosur and Kiki Mladenovic and after only playing doubles herself in that competition Cepelova shouldn’t be too fatigued.
Wickmayer may well be tired though after several singles and doubles matches in Fed Cup ahead of this tournament and I’m happier with the 1.55 on Cepelova +1.5 sets rather than the same price on Wicky to win. It looks like it could be a tight one.
Back Kleybanova +5.5 games to beat Jankovic at 1.70
Back Cepelova +1.5 sets to beat Wickmayer at 1.55