The last-16 ladies still in contention for the WTA Mutua Madrid Open 2014 title will be whittled down to eight after Thursday’s play at La Caja Mágica.
I thought it would be a while until a player let me down from a *4-1 double break up in the final set again, as Sveta Kuznetsova did last week in Oeiras, but not only did she do it again in Madrid – she went further.
The mentally suspect Russian led Aga Radwanska by 4-1 in the final set of their clash on Wednesday, only to lose the next four games and head into a tie break.
She then led by 6-3 in that breaker and missed two sitters on match point before crumbling and slapping a forehand into the net at match point down.
Sveta’s fellow Russian, Nastia Pavlyuchenkova, made matters a lot better in the last match of the day though when my +1.5 sets tip came to fruition in the opener of Pavs’s clash with Jelena Jankovic, which also ended in a final set tie break.
Play begins at 10.00 UK time on Thursday, with a very winnable match for Li Na against Sloane Stephens, but the 11.00 clash between a couple of Czechs could be a belter.
Lucie Safarova 1.82 Petra Kvitova 1.95
This battle of the Czech lefties has been priced up in a quite peculiar way, with Safarova as slight favourite, which surely should be the other way around.
They’ve met on three occasions so far in their careers and Kvitova has come out ahead each time, although the two this year were pretty close, with the most recent meeting in Doha going the distance, and I wouldn’t back against the full three sets here again.
Petra just can’t finish a match in straight sets and again on Tuesday she was made to go three against Varvara Lepchenko, who took the opener while watching the back fence get a peppering from the Kvitova racquet.
Safarova, meanwhile, was putting Magdalena Rybarikova to the sword for the second time in a fortnight and her 12-2 record here clearly shows how much she enjoys the pacey conditions in Madrid.
Kvitova is a former winner here, so she enjoys the speed too, and this one should be a really entertaining clash.
She was seen out last evening eating sushi, which can’t be a wise move given past events involving Petra and uncooked seafood, but hopefully she’ll be OK to fight out another three set battle.
Safarova’s great record in Madrid of 12-2 is perhaps clouding the thinking of the layers here and I can’t see any other reason to make her the slight favourite.
Lucie doesn’t have a great time against fellow lefties, with just one win in her last nine matches against left-handers and combined with her 0-3 mark against today’s opponent she doesn’t offer much value.
The over 21.5 total games at 1.80 or the Kvitova 2-1 win at 4.25 look the ones here.
Serena Williams has been sporting a substantial strapping on her left leg, so who knows what sort of condition she will be in to face Carla Suarez Navarro, but I’d still fancy a very comfortable Serena win there.
Maria Sharapova has a 12-2 record over Sam Stosur and will most likely increase that mark, but Sara Errani may not have things all her own way against one of the most in-form players on the tour.
Caroline Garcia had a day off yesterday when Maria Kirilenko’s injury nightmare continued and if Garcia finds her spots she can punish Errani’s pathetically weak serve and fire her way past the punchless Italian, with the 2-0 to the Frenchwoman a 4.20 shot.
Pavs will surely be too tired to fight against Ana Ivanovic today after finishing off Jankovic at around 01.00 local time this morning and in any case she’s lost all five previous meetings to the Serb.
Sabine Lisicki finally showed some half decent form last night against Irina-Camelia Begu, but she’ll have to have a superb day to defeat Simona Halep. It is possible, but rather unlikely that she’ll have the consistency required.
Best Bet: Back Kvitova to beat Safarova 2-1 at 4.25