The second round of matches in the Red Group at the WTA Championships in Singapore are the order of the day on Wednesday, with Serena Williams looking to extend her winning streak in this event.
The world number one faces Simona Halep, while Ana Ivanovic faces Genie Bouchard on day three at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Tuesday wasn’t the best of days for me, as a pretty mediocre showing from Petra Kvitova and a very good one from Aga Radwanska contributed to a loss on the day.
Maria Sharapova was also beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in the opening match of the day and as Kvitova herself put it: “I think probably [Maria and I] were both favourites in our matches and of course in our group – that's what happens in tennis.”
Indeed it is, Petra. Indeed it is.
Serena Williams vs Simona Halep
We start earlier in the day at 09:00 UK time on Wednesday with the fourth career meeting between the American and the Romanian.
Williams has won all three priors, but the most recent was over a year ago when Halep was still ranked outside the world’s top-20 and it could well be more competitive than any of their previous meetings.
Halep’s price of around 4.25 would certainly suggest that anyway, as she was a 10.0 shot last time she took on Williams and was beaten 6-0, 6-4 in Cincy last summer.
But I’m not so sure about Halep against top class opponents with power, as her combined 0-10 record against Williams, Maria Sharapova and Vika Azarenka shows.
Admittedly, many of those matches were prior to the Romanian becoming a top-five player, but her results against Sharapova of late must be a concern to those backing her to beat Williams.
Serena doesn’t tend to be beaten by opponents who rely on speed, consistency and guile and who tend to lack raw power and Halep falls into that category.
It does happen – as Jana Cepelova and Alizé Cornet have shown this season – but it’s rare and I can’t see past a 17th straight win in this competition for Williams and another 2-0 success.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Ana Ivanovic
This 12:30 UK time start could be an opportunity to side with the underdog for the first time in this tournament – at least for me anyway.
Bouchard was poor against Halep in her first match here, but often she works her way into tournaments after a slow start and that could be the case again here.
The Canadian was all over the place with her timing against Halep and consequently the errors were plentiful – 30 in total in two fairly quick sets.
One would expect that Bouchard has to improve and she will at least have the confidence of two wins in two career meets with Ivanovic to look back on.
Genie defeated Ana at Wimbledon last year and Melbourne this, so she knows she has the game to cause Ivanovic problems and she’ll surely be desperate for a much improved performance than she showed against Halep.
There is possibly still an injury issue that is causing Bouchard problems and indeed both of these two withdrew after one match in Linz due to injury – Bouchard with a left thigh issue and Ivanovic with a left hip problem.
The Serbian seemed not to be affected by any injury in her opening round robin match with Williams and she performed fairly well in it – hence the prices today – but Ivanovic is too short for me.
Genie did play with her left thigh taped against Halep and that is a major concern given her Linz withdrawal and it puts me off the over 21.5 total games at 1.92, which would otherwise be my pick in this one.
Back Williams –4.5 games to beat Halep at 1.79