The WTA Tour splits off in three ways in week 41, with International level events in Linz, Osaka and Tianjin.
I will be concentrating solely on the Generali Ladies in Linz, Austria this week and among the players at this indoor tournament are scheduled to be Genie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki, Domi Cibulkova and Andrea Petkovic.
Assuming all of these turn up it looks a decent field and it’s played on a medium paced Decoturf surface that gets re-laid each year and has been noted in the past for being a quite gritty and rough surface.
Angelique Kerber won this last year by beating Ivanovic in the final, but the German won’t be back to defend her title this time around after failing in her bid to qualify for the year-end knockabout in Singapore.
We have only three first round matches on the schedule for Monday and they all take place on Centre Court, where play begins from 13:00 UK time.
One match appeals from a betting viewpoint here and that takes place at around 17:30 UK time.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs Stefanie Voegele
This match should be one for the tennis purists with both of these two deploying all court games with plenty of variety and no little skill.
There won’t be much baseline bashing in this one and for me, the Swiss, who made the semi finals here a year ago looks a touch generously priced here.
Voegele had a great week in Linz 12 months ago, beating Klara Koukalova, Karin Knapp and Sloane Stephens before losing in the semi finals against Ivanovic and she’ll have great memories of that week.
She’ll also be keen to back up her ranking points and her motivation should be higher than that of her Czech opponent who has little to play for at this stage of the season.
Both players are not exactly known for their physical endurance and at the end of a very good season BZS is likely to be at the end of her capabilities after 58 matches in 2014.
I expect this one to be a tight, tactical affair and BZS’s record indoors – and particularly here in Linz – doesn’t do her many favours.
She’s been beaten in round one here on her last two visits and she’s only ever won one match in the main draw in Linz, which was back in 2010.
Indeed, she hasn’t made it past round two indoors in seven of her last eight events and those stats make her price of 1.33 look a little skinny.
Voegele has proved tricky to win with, as she has a very frustrating habit of being unable to close matches out, so instead of the outright win at 3.20 I like the +4.5 games or the +1.5 sets on the Swiss.
Back Voegele +1.5 sets to beat Zahlavova Strycova at 1.86