The remaining eight ladies in contention for the 2014 AEGON Classic title are in action on Friday, as the grass court tennis continues.
Thursday was one of those days where my other recommendations did better than my best bet, as Casey Dellacqua did indeed beat Sam Stosur and Klara Koukalova defeated Coco Vandeweghe, but Timea Babos was beaten in a strange match.
The Hungarian looked the favourite to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova after landing a bagel onto the Czech in set two of their clash, but BZS emerged the winner as Babos let her dominance slip in the decider.
We start at 11:00 UK time again on Friday, with an intriguing clash involving the number one seed.
Ana Ivanovic vs Klara Koukalova
If this match was won by smiles there would be only one player in it, with the charming Ivanovic taking on the sour faced countenance of Koukie for the fourth time in their careers, but it’s about tennis and Ana struggles on the grass.
The Serb has shown some improvement on her previous efforts on the green stuff already this week, but she hasn’t faced much and she looks awfully short on her worst surface against an opponent she lost to last time they met and who plays well on grass.
Indeed, in that last meeting on fairly quick hard courts in Doha in February Klara had made a mad dash from Fed Cup to make the tournament, beat Elina Svitolina, then took down Ivanovic from a set down, so she was hardly in the best of condition for that encounter.
It certainly shows that the Czech can go toe-to-toe with Ivanovic on a quick surface and Ana’s opponents have been unable to do that so far this week in Birmingham.
Klara was very close to beating Na Li at Wimbledon last year and she’s a former Rosmalen champion and made the Eastbourne semis two years ago – all of which shows that she can be effective on this surface.
Ivanovic is a frequent loser at short prices on grass and in her last dozen grass court events she’d made it as far as the quarters just once before this week.
Much will depend on the attitude of the moody Koukalova, but she looks worth backing either on the game handicap or set handicap, with my preference for the latter at 2.55.
Elsewhere, there should be wins for Kirsten Flipkens, Casey Dellaqua and Sloane Stephens, but none of the three look anywhere near good things.
Stephens faces Shuai Zhang, who had a great win over Petra Cetkovska yesterday and if she starts like she did yesterday the Chinese could easily make Sloane work very hard for a win there.
Dellaqua should have a clear fitness advantage over Kimiko Date-Krumm, who I love to see still playing, as she’s actually older than me, but surely with the doubles as well she’s pushing her luck today against the in-form Aussie.
Flipper has a great record over BZS, but the Belgian really had to battle to overcome Alex Wozniack yesterday. I expect the style of BZS to give Flipkens fewer problems and she looks perhaps the best of the favourites today, but surely Ivanovic is worth taking on at 1.15?
Back Koukalova +1.5 sets to beat Ivanovic at 2.55