Wednesday's play will bring straightforward wins for Stefanie Voegele and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Paris, writes Sean Calvert...
Week five of the 2014 WTA Tour continues in Thailand and France on Wednesday, with first and second round matches on the card for today.
My bets went one from two on Tuesday when Andrea Petkovic produced an excellent performance to take down Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets, hitting 24 winners in the process at the Open GDF Suez.
There wasn’t such good news from the heat and humidity of Pattaya City, where Karolina Anna Schmiedlova had the doctor out in a poor loss to Sorana Cirstea, who finally found some of her missing form.
Elsewhere, 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm took out rising star Garbine Muguruza in three punishing sets, while the tournament also lost Sabine Lisicki and Sveta Kuznetsova, who both pulled out due to injury.
All of that means that there are just three matches on the schedule at the Pattaya Open on Wednesday and it’s too much of an early start there, so I’m focusing on the seven games on the card in Paris.
Stefanie Voegele vs Galina Voskoboeva (BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.05 GMT)
This second career meeting between the Swiss and the Kazakh should take place at around 12pm UK time and I can’t see past a victory for Voegele in this one.
On her best form Voegele is a level above Voskoboeva and as ever the main concern with Stefanie is her physical condition, as she has struggled with injury rather a lot over the last year or so.
Most recently there was a thigh problem at the end of last season, followed by a serious stomach complaint in Brisbane at the start of this and she certainly didn’t cope with the extreme heat of Melbourne, where she was crushed by eventual finalist Domi Cibulkova, but back in Europe she should have too much for Voskoboeva.
The Swiss has beaten Madison Keys and Kiki Mladenovic this season and taken a set from Vika Azarenka, so she’s in decent touch and she performs well indoors, reaching the semi-finals of her last three events in these conditions.
Galina just about made it through to this stage by surviving a three-setter against Krystina Pliskova, who twice served for the match and failed and she hasn’t made it past the second round of any indoor tournament since 2008.
I expect Stefanie to win with a bit in hand here and Voegele minus 2.5 games at 1.83 looks the call. She may start slowly in her first match indoors for a while, but she should prove too solid for the Kazakh.
Maria Sharapova begins her campaign against old foe Dani Hantuchova and Masha fans will be concerned about her shoulder and the fact that she’s in the process of changing her service action. I wouldn’t touch the 1.17 about Maria in these circumstances and the handicap options on Dani look the call in their 12pm UK time start.
Kirsten Flipkens looks like she could be a touch of value to me against last year’s champion Mona Barthel in the 10am UK time start, while Kiki Mladenovic has only recently arrived back in Paris after winning the mixed doubles in Melbourne and consequently may well be jet-lagged in her match with Simona Halep.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Carla Suarez-Navarro (BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.05 GMT)
Nastia has very much had the edge in this match-up against the Spaniard and the Russian brings a 5-0 head-to-head career record into today’s 2pm UK time clash.
Indeed, such has been Pavs’s dominance that CSN is yet to win a set in their tour level meetings and she choked badly in the final of Oeiras on the clay last season against today’s opponent.
Nastia took her time to acclimatise against Fran Schiavone in her first round match, but was playing some decent stuff by the end, while Carla enjoyed a fairly routine victory over the weapon-less Johanna Larsson on Tuesday.
A-Pavs should find the conditions pretty much perfect for her to hit through the defences of CSN here, as she has done on all surfaces before and if she’s on form she could win this quite comfortably.
Suarez-Navarro goes away very tamely all too regularly when she knows she’s beaten and the handicap options on Nastia are worthy of consideration in this one. The minus 2.5 games looks a solid call at 1.78 and that will be my second wager on Wednesday.
The final match on today’s Paris card might be tougher than 1.20 suggests for Angelique Kerber against the walking sulk that is Klara Zakopalova and the former champion has been put in a tad short here for me.
Zakopalova’s game also suits these conditions and a 5.5 game start for the Czech on the handicap could prove fruitful in Kerber’s first match since the Australian Open.
Back Voegele –2.5 games to beat Voskoboeva at 1.83
Back Pavlyuchenkova –2.5 games to beat Suarez-Navarro at 1.78