The WTA Tour heads to Germany and France in week 21, as the final preparations are made to players’ games ahead of the French Open next week.
Both are International level tournaments, with the Nurnberger Versicherungscup into its second year on the tour after it’s debut event last season was won by Simona Halep, who is currently tending to an injury.
Top seed there this time around is Angelique Kerber and conditions on the red clay have been described as quite heavy and will be a test for those not used to the nuances of the clay court game.
Over in France the Internationaux de Strasbourg is a regular feature on the WTA Tour calendar and Alizé Cornet is back to defend the title she won here 12 months ago, with Sloane Stephens somehow the top seed.
This event is meant to mimic the playing conditions at the French Open, with as much as possible likened to the set up in Paris, but they can’t dictate the weather, which is the most important factor in clay court tennis, and it’s set to be sunny until Wednesday at the moment.
Monday’s card has 18 matches on it and several catch my eye, starting with a 13.35 UK time match in Strasbourg.
Teliana Pereira 1.71 vs Alison Riske 2.08 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.35
Simply a clash between a player who has a lot of experience on the red dirt and enjoys it and one who doesn’t, and the slow conditions in Europe should ensure that Riske takes one too many, errm, risks and goes down in a series of errors.
The American likes a quick surface and does well on the grass, but her results on clay have been poor and she rarely bothers with the surface – especially European red clay.
Alison did manage to beat Kaia Kanepi on clay, which is a great result, but it was in Madrid at altitude where it is fast and that is her only win on clay at tour level in her career.
She lost comfortably to compatriot Madison Keys last week in Rome and I would suggest that she’s just waiting for the grass swing to come around.
Pereira had a bad result last week too against Monica Puig, but she’s beaten the likes of Sorana Cirstea and recent title winner Maria Teresa Torro-Flor on the clay this season and she shouldn’t be losing to Riske in these conditions.
The 1.85 about Pereira minus 1.5 games looks good here.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 4.40 vs Eugenie Bouchard 1.20 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.05
The matches that I have seen Genie play on clay this season have been little short of horrific and I can’t have her as a 1.20 favourite on heavy clay in Nurnberg over BZS, who has played some good matches lately.
We had a nice winner with her over Romina Oprandi in Oeiras a few weeks ago and since then she’s made the final of a $75K in Slovakia, so she has plenty of clay matches under her belt.
She’s not one to rely on with her highly questionable temperament, but she can take a set here against Bouchard, as she did when they met on a hard court at the end of last season.
Genie was dreadful against Sveta Kuznetsova in Oeiras and little better against an inspired Fran Schiavone in Rome last week.
The Canadian’s confidence can’t be high on the red dirt at the moment and the overs and the handicaps on BZS look good here.
The 2.33 about the Czech taking a set looks decent to me.
Elsewhere, I like Patricia Mayr Achleitner as underdog against Slava Shvedova and the overs looks likely in the match between Jana Cepelova and Annika Beck.
Back Pereira –1.5 games to beat Riske at 1.85
Back Zahlavova Strycova +1.5 sets to beat Bouchard at 2.33