There are 14 WTA matches on the schedule for Wednesday across our two tournaments this week in Moscow and Luxembourg.
First and second round action is the order of the day the Kremlin Cup and BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open after Tuesday’s bets returned two winners from two when Aleksandra Krunic comfortably defeated Caroline Garcia before Varvara Lepchenko defeated Julia Goerges.
Krunic landed a very welcome 2.75 winner in straight sets, while Lepchenko was certainly harder work, but the American got it done in three in the end.
We start at 10:00 UK time in Moscow with two very winnable matches in Moscow for Sveta Kuznetsova and Lucie Safrova and the only match that takes my interest in terms of potential vale at the Kremlin Cup takes place at around 17:00 UK time today.
Flavia Pennetta vs Camila Giorgi
I mentioned yesterday that Giorgi had a tough turnaround from losing the Linz final to playing the first round here in Moscow yesterday, but she handled it very well in easily beating Lesya Tsurenko in straight sets.
But Pennetta should be a much bigger challenge today and this all-Italian clash should be the match of the day at the Kremlin Cup today.
Giorgi has been unusually consistent over the last week or so, with a distinct lack of her usual dips in form and concentration that tend to lead the ball being sprayed to all parts.
I’m not convinced about her as a 1.58 favourite in this one though, with the slow courts here surely not in her favour, as well as the likely physical dip to come after a long week at this stage of the season.
Her record on clay is poor and although we’re on indoor hard here it’s playing at about the same speed and not as many of her bullets will be winners in these conditions.
With Pennetta it tends to be all about the serve and if that’s firing she has a decent chance of repeating her win over Giorgi on another slow hard court in Indian Wells this spring.
Monica Niculescu vs Mona Barthel
This 16:00 UK encounter between the Romanian and the German will be a classic clash of styles, with the unorthodox Niculescu utilising her fairly unique game against the powerful bashing of Barthel.
Mona managed to inflict yet another defeat at her home tournament upon poor old Mandy Minella on Tuesday, with the local hope stating after a very scratchy match that she has an arm injury and her season is over.
Barthel didn’t impress in beating the ailing Minella and she’ll need to do a lot better if she’s to come out on top against an opponent with an excellent record in this tournament.
Niculescu has a 10-3 record here and was a finalist in 2011 and 2012 and her only losses in Luxembourg have come at the hands of Vika Azarenka, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
The unusual sliced forehands are more than enough to put many a ball-basher off and when she’s comfortable in conditions that she knows suit her game she can be a very difficult player to beat.
The Romanian drew enough errors from Barthel to beat her in straights when the pair met in windy conditions in Hobart in January and while she won’t have the elements on her side this time Niculescu should prove too solid.
Niculescu has come in from 1.70 to 1.60 this morning, but she looks the best bet in Luxembourg today.
The only other one I might be tempted with today is to go against Lepchenko, who looked less than fit by the end of her win over Goerges and the knee seemed to be the issue there.
Back Pennetta to beat Giorgi at 2.32
Back Niculescu to beat Barthel at 1.60