Friday at the International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha sees the remaining eight players in the Qatar Total Open 2014 go head-to-head for places in the semi-finals of this Premier 5 event.
I said yesterday that I wouldn’t be surprised if Petra Cetkovska troubled Li Na with a 5.5 game start on the handicap and rather annoyingly I went for the other option of Alisa Kleybanova +5.5 games instead and that one never got going.
Cetkovska’s battling win over the error-ridden Li was the only surprise of a day where my second wager was a winner, as Jana Cepelova took the first set of her match with Yanina Wickmayer.
That was as good as it got for Cepelova though, as at 2-1 ahead in set two the Slovak didn’t win another game and lost 11 straight to slump to a dispiriting loss to the Belgian. Good thing that we only needed one set from her.
Petra Cetkovska 4.30 vs Angelique Kerber 1.20 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.35
Backing up that great win over Li may well prove a step too far for the injury prone Czech who is scheduled to play her sixth match in this tournament at 12.35pm UK time today.
She hasn’t played more than six matches at a tournament since the last time she defeated Li, which was at New Haven in 2011 when she made the final as a qualifier.
Cetkovska will undoubtedly be tired and Kerber is highly unlikely to contribute 60 unforced errors as Li did yesterday to the Czech’s cause. Indeed, Kerber is coming off the back of a win over another fatigued opponent in Klara Zakopalova, and the German will be a tougher nut to crack than the errant Li.
I think the prices are about right in this one and the determined Kerber to win 2-0 at 1.62 looks likely here.
Petra Kvitova 2.25 vs Jelena Jankovic 1.60 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.35
This pair have had very different passages to this last eight stage, with Kvitova enduring two tough three setters, while JJ has breezed into the quarters for the loss of just five games in total.
Admittedly, Jankovic’s opponents have been poor, with Karin Knapp exhausted after a long journey from Fed Cup and Kleybanova wasn’t at the races and never got going at any stage.
Kvitova had to overcome an inspired Venus Williams and an in-form Lucie Safarova, who unsurprisingly ran out of energy in the end after a crazy week of tennis and travelling and Petra will need to do better if she’s to justify her higher seeding in this one.
Jankovic, as ever, will get plenty of balls back and Kvitova will need to be at her best to get by the Serb, but I’m still a little surprised to see JJ as a 1.60 favourite here. Petra has won 14 of her last 17 matches against lower ranked opposition and I don't like that 1.60 about Jelena at all.
This to me has the feel of a tight, tough battle, full of ups and downs and the over 21.5 total games looks a decent call in the second match of the day.
Simona Halep 1.52 vs Sara Errani 2.45 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 14.35
Halep will be anxious do perform a lot better than in her only previous encounter with Errani, which resulted in a 6-1, 6-0 defeat on slow outdoor hard in Miami almost a year ago.
Since then, Halep has gone from strength to strength, winning six titles and rising up the rankings to her current position in the top 10, and this week represents a decent chance for her to land a Premier level title with many of the biggest names either out or missing.
But first she’ll have to overcome Errani, who continues to stick around the top 10 despite having a powder puff serve and no power on her ground strokes.
She does this by using her defensive and tactical skills to frustrate opponents who punch themselves out – all bar the very elite, who can hit huge holes in that defence and inflict heavy defeats upon the Italian.
I’d side with the Romanian here, but not as confidently as a 1.52 shot should be.
Yanina Wickmayer 4.80 vs Agnieszka Radwanska 1.16 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 17.05
This match will surely go one of two ways – Wicky will turn up in her best form and hit Radwanska off the court or Aga will absorb everything that the Belgian has to offer and return it with interest.
The latter option has tended to be the outcome in their career series so far, with the Pole winning in straight sets in their three most recent encounters and it is a tall order for Wicky to get the better of Aga in this one.
The Belgian has shown her best form for quite some time here in Doha, but she must be nearing the end of her physical capabilities after a lot of tennis in the last week and she will be made to play plenty of balls by the wily Pole.
The over 19.5 or Wicky +5.5 games is tempting, but I’m not sure that she won’t hit the wall at some stage.
Back over 21.5 total games in Kvitova/Jankovic at 1.80