The final of the last remaining Premier level event of the main 2014 WTA Tour season is all set for Sunday morning at the Kremlin Cup.
Fittingly, the Olympic Stadium in Moscow will see a Russian representative in the final, as Nastia Pavlyuchenkova takes on Irina-Camelia Begu.
The final of the Luxembourg Open didn’t exactly go the way I had expected – quite the opposite in fact – as Annika Beck destroyed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
It wasn’t a great day by any means for the Czech who couldn’t get anything gong against a more aggressive than usual Beck, who, as I suggested yesterday, did use her speed to get to the drop shots of BZS.
I didn’t expect such a one-sided contest though and the fans in Moscow will be hoping for more of a contest at 10:00 UK time when Pavs and Begu clash.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Irina-Camelia Begu
I said earlier in the week that Pavs had more than likely been tailoring her end-of-season towards playing well here and she’s taken full advantage of the huge amount of withdrawals by the big names that were meant to be here.
The result is a chance that most likely won’t come around again to win a Premier event in her home country against an opponent ranked outside the world’s top-50.
Everything seems to be in favour of the Russian in this one: crowd support; experience in big matches; the head-to-head career record; and she really ought to be winning this match.
Pavs is into her 10th WTA Tour final and she holds a 6-3 record at the moment, which is pretty decent and only once has she been beaten in a final by a player ranked outside the top-five in the world.
That was a loss to Magda Rybarikova in Washington back in 2012 and she’s already landed one Premier level title this season, which was also indoors in Paris in January.
Begu on the other hand has participated in only three tour level finals prior to this one and lost two of them – to Vika Azarenka in Marbella in 2011 on clay and to Roberta Vinci three months later, also on clay, in Budapest.
The one she won was in Tashkent on outdoor hard a couple of years ago against the then 183 ranked Donna Vekic and the furthest she had managed at Premier level before this week was four times in the last-32.
So, this is a very rare chance for the Romanian and from her point of view after beating Lucie Safarova she has nothing to lose in this one.
Pavs was a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 winner when they met in Seoul a year ago on outdoor hard and Pavs feasted on the Begu second serve that day, allowing Begu to win only three of 17 behind it.
Should Nastia adopt the same approach today it’s had to see a different result and the 1.82 about the Russian winning –1.5 sets looks the bet here.
It probably won’t be as comfortable as the Seoul match and the first set might be tight, with the over 9.5 games appealing at 2.20 also, but Pavs should win it in two.
Back Pavlyuchenkova –1.5 sets to beat Begu at 1.82