There’s second round and quarter final action in Moscow and Luxembourg on Thursday at the Kremlin Cup and BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
And I’m hoping not to have to suffer the pain of seeing my player lose after winning the opening set 6-0 today, after that very thing happened on Wednesday in Luxembourg.
Monica Niculescu was slicing and dicing her way to a win over Mona Barthel when injury struck and the Romanian wasn’t as effective with her unusual game after a MTO.
It was still good battling from Barthel, who isn’t known for such resilience, and things didn’t improve later when Flavia Pennetta was unable to get the better of fellow Italian Camila Giorgi.
Aleksandra Krunic vs Tsvetana Pironkova
I’m not too sure why Krunic is the underdog for this one after her fine performance against Caroline Garcia a couple of days ago.
If one can find a player at this time of the year with motivation to do well in these end of season events it makes sense to side with them and Moscow native Krunic certainly has that.
Playing in front of her friends and family in the city she calls home she won’t want a poor show and there’s no reason why she can’t get the better of Pironkova, who has little to offer in slow conditions.
Always much more at home on grass or quick hard courts where her highly suspect forehand can be more effective it seems unlikely that the Bulgarian will be able to hit through the excellent defences of Krunic.
The price of 2.33 on the Serb seems generous to me in this 10:00 UK time start.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Alison Riske
This 13:30 UK time start in Moscow looks one in which to side with Pavs against an opponent who is surely feeling a little leggy after a tough, title winning run in Tianjin last week and is now playing for a fifth straight week on tour.
It may be a step too far for the American and Pavs has played six matches fewer and done much less traveling than Riske since the US Open.
The Russian, who is a Moscow resident, will be very keen indeed to exact a bit of revenge over Riske, who has beaten her twice this season, and this looks the perfect chance to do it.
Pavs made a breakthrough here last year by making the semi finals, having previously struggled to make any sort of impact at the Kremlin Cup, and it took Simona Halep to end her run 12 months ago.
Nastia’s schedule does seem to have been tailored with Moscow in mind and she has what seems a very good chance of beating a jaded Riske at a price of 1.78 in this one.
Reports from the venue in Moscow suggest that Domi Cibulkova has been hobbling around in the last few days, which explains her price of 1.54 against the world number 140 Vitalia Diatchenko.
Domi needs a win here to claim the last alternate spot in Singapore from Ekaterina Makarova, so you’d think she’d be trying, but she can only do so much if her injury is as bad as it seems.
Over in Luxembourg Barthel seems a little short after her battle with Niculescu and her match with Kiki Bertens today will be much more of a big-hitting affair that the latter could well come out on top in.
Annika Beck also looks far too short in her match with Patricia Mayr-Achleitner considering the German’s serve is breakable pretty much every time she steps up to the line.
Back Krunic to beat Pironkova at 2.33
Back Pavlyuchenkova to beat Riske at 1.78