The semi finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open are in-play in the early hours of Saturday morning UK time in Tokyo.
And we head there in good shape after a nice 4.1 winner on Friday in the form of Garbiñe Muguruza’s 2-1 win over Casey Dellacqua, which preceded a loss for the overs in the Ana Ivanovic/Lucie Safarova match.
Muguruza came from a set down against the Aussie to make the semis and indeed Dellacqua served for the match in set two, but the latter allowed the former off the hook and the comeback was on.
Safarova was rarely in danger of pushing Ivanovic as I thought she would, with such a fine prior record over the Serb, and she could have been bagelled in the first set.
We start at 04:00 UK time on Saturday, with Muguruza taking on Caroline Wozniacki.
Garbiñe Muguruza vs Caroline Wozniacki
To my mind Wozniacki looks awfully short at 1.33 against a player who does possess the power to hit her off the court if she’s having a good day.
The radar wasn’t quite on against Dellacqua, but if she finds her range early there’s every chance that Muguruza could run out a comfortable winner here in lively conditions at the Ariake Coliseum.
That’s without considering that the Spaniard has won both of her two previous clashes with Wozniacki and the market seems to have put a huge amount of faith in the improvements that the Dane has made to her game since they last met in January this year.
Muguruza was a three set winner that day in Melbourne and a straight sets winner on slow hard in Miami in the spring of 2013 and even allowing for the ‘new’ Wozniacki being in attendance here I find it hard to see why she’s 1.33 today.
She probably should be more like a 1.5 shot, which makes the 3.4 on Muguruza a decent wager.
Muguruza has shown a more patient approach this week, which has helped her out when her powerful shots aren’t finding the lines and that more mature style of play can only be good for her.
Woz is a really poor price for this and it’s worth taking a chance on Garbiñe at these odds.
Angelique Kerber vs Ana Ivanovic
The second semi final at 05:30 UK time looks very hard to call, with Ivanovic taking on another leftie in Kerber.
This seventh career meeting between the German and Serb is a repeat of the third round match here a year ago, which Kerber won in straight sets at around the same sort of price she is today.
The 2.25 shot has won two of the last three against Ivanovic and came awfully close to making it three in Dubai in February this year when she lost a final set tie breaker.
That one was a really up and down affair, with Ivanovic leading 5-1 in the deciding tie break before Kerber won five points in a row to get to match point and then lost the next three.
It could easily be that close again, as both come into this match on the back of dominant wins over good quality opposition on Friday.
Kerber’s win over Domi Cibulkova was expected, but not to the tune of 6-3, 6-0, and the German will be confident on Saturday at a tournament where she now boasts an 11-4 record.
The conditions here clearly suit her game and she’s able to redirect much of the power that comes at her at this venue, with two of her four losses here being at the hands of a more wily opponent in Aga Radwanska.
Cibulkova had been playing well up until she met Kerber, while it could certainly be argued that Safarova looks a little jaded after a tough year in which she made her debut in a major semi final.
Taking of semis, Kerber has a 12-13 record in semi finals at main level, while Ivanovic has a similar 21-20 mark, so not much to glean from that unfortunately.
I’m tempted to side with Kerber here at 2.48 or the over 21.5 total games at 1.95, but it’s a really tough one and better value might lie with Muguruza tonight.
Back Muguruza to beat Wozniacki at 3.40