This week’s Premier level event on the WTA Tour is the Toray Pan Pacific Open, and we’ve reached the second round of matches in Tokyo.
Dani Hantuchova narrowly failed to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova on Tuesday, but really had only herself to blame after pitching in with no fewer than 14 double faults in the match.
After a slow start Hantuchova fought back and once she’d recovered a substantial deficit in the deciding set to level at 5-5 hopes were returning, but the Aussie edged over the line to foil my wager.
Elsewhere, hopefully I put a few off backing Sabine Lisicki at a short price, as the German was beaten by Casey Dellacqua, while despite being injured again Kimiko Date-Krumm did take a set from Vika Azarenka.
We start at around 04:30 UK time on Wednesday with a match involving a fair old height differential.
CoCo Vandeweghe vs Dominika Cibulkova
The diminutive Slovak, who stands just 1.61 metres tall (5’3”), takes on the 1.85 metre (6’) American in the first match of the day, but I would favour the shorter player here.
The ball stays quite low here in Tokyo in quick conditions and there won’t be many high bouncing balls that Cibulkova will have to play at shoulder height today.
The Australian Open finalist’s form has been very patchy indeed this summer, but a surprisingly routine win over Kirsten Flipkens in round one here indicates she’s getting back towards some good form.
And that should be good enough against the big-hitting, but erratic Vandeweghe, who, despite having an excellent season, is not one to rely on and she looks too short in price today against a quality opponent.
Vandeweghe was a 3.85 shot to beat Ana Ivanovic in Montreal and 2.92 to beat Jelena Jankovic at the same tournament and she won both, which has probably made her too short in price today, considering her overall record against top-20 opponents is 7-18.
At 2.38 Vandeweghe doesn't strike me as value and the 1.56 about a Cibulkova win here seems a better choice.
Victoria Azarenka vs Ana Ivanovic
We’re still not seeing the best of Vika at the moment and being outplayed by an injured 43-year-old isn’t the best way to start your week in Tokyo, as far as Azarenka is concerned.
Ivanovic has a fine opportunity here to improve her 2-5 career deficit against Azarenka in a series that has seen the Belarusian win the last four.
This will be their first meeting in 2014, after two close three setters last season on hard courts at the US Open and in Carlsbad, and it will be the first time that Ana has been favourite since their initial meeting at the French Open in 2009.
Since her injury right at the start of the season Azarenka hasn’t been able to defeat a single player ranked in the top-20 and she isn’t playing anywhere near her best right now.
Whether that’s largely to do with injury or not isn’t clear, but she certainly isn’t at her former level and Ivanovic should be able to take advantage, although the concern is that she hasn’t played since a disappointing loss in New York.
The ones on my shortlist here are the Ivanovic win at 1.62 and the 2-1 win at 4.0.
Wednesday’s other two matches should see Angelique Kerber overcome Elina Svitolina, but it’s a tricky one and the German is too short in the betting, while Belinda Bencic has a very decent chance of upsetting Lucie Safarova.
Back Cibulkova to beat Vandeweghe at 1.56
Back Ivanovic to beat Azarenka 2-1 at 4.0